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SC asks Centre to block explicit content on Internet

With a view to ensuring that explicit videos depicting rape, gang rape (RGR) and child pornography (CP) are not available for circulation in the Internet, the Supreme Court has asked the Government of India to work with companies like Google, Yahoo!, Facebook and WhatsApp to suggest list of key words that will help in blocking such videos.

A Bench of Justices Madan B. Lokur and Uday Lalit passed this order in the petition relating to Prajwala, a non-governmental organisation (NGO) seeking the court’s intervention to block such contents in the Internet. The apex court had in February 2015 taken suo motu cognisance of a letter written to the then Chief Justice of India by Prajwala, along with a pen drive containing two videos highlighting the crime committed by the gang and seeking appropriate action against the culprits, who had the temerity to upload the offensive videos on the Internet. The letter was converted into a PIL.

On March 22 this year, the court had constituted a technical expert committee to assist and advise this court on the feasibility of ensuring that such objectionable videos are not available for circulation, apart from anything else, to protect the identity and reputation of the victims and also because circulation of such videos cannot be in public interest at all. The committee, which included representatives of major search engines like Google, Yahoo! and WhatsApp, submitted suggestions and recommendations aimed at blocking such contents during the Google search.

During the in-camera hearing on Monday, the court accepted the 11 proposals and recommendations based on consensus and asked the Government of India to consider implementing them. It asked Internet companies to provide technical support and assist in capacity building to the relevant agencies in India including NGOs.

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