Indian govt watching more users online: Google report

Last Updated: Thu, Nov 15, 2012 04:42 hrs

The number of government requests to remove or block online content in India was the second-highest, according to Google's sixth transparency report. The US recorded the highest number of such requests.

During the first half of the year, there were about 20,000 inquiries from government entities around the world, with the US government accounting for 7,969 such demands. Indian authorities made about 2,300 such requests. The report added Google complied with about 64 per cent of the requests by the Indian government. Between July 2011 and December 2011, Indian authorities had sought 2,207 users' data and Google had complied with about 66 per cent of these requests.

Though India's internet penetration (about 10 per cent) is low compared to global standards, as of early this year, the country was home to about 100 million internet users, behind only China and the US.

The Google report said the company received 13 court orders and 35 requests related to defamation from authorities (police, etc). For these, it was sought 120 items be removed from Google products Orkut, YouTube, web search and Blogger. Indian courts issued six orders to remove 75 items termed 'religious offences'. "In response to a court order, we removed 360 search results. The search results were linked to 360 web pages that had adult videos, which allegedly violated an individual's personal privacy," said Google.

The items Indian authorities requested be removed were primarily from YouTube, Google's web search and Blogger.

Earlier, a report by Freedom House, a Washington-based internet monitoring group, had ranked India 39th in a list on internet freedom. The report stressed despite the new comprehensive data protection regulations adopted in 2011, the Indian legal framework and oversight surrounding surveillance and interception were weak, with several instances of abuse in recent years. Under the Information Technology Amendment Bill 2008, intermediaries (websites like Google) in India are protected from prosecution for content posted by third parties. However, according to the 2011 rules, they risk losing such immunity if they don't remove the offensive content within 36 hours of being notified. The rules do not provide an avenue for content producers to be informed of the removal or to contest the decision.

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