Google uses Delhi HC, says Search is not a social media middleman

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Google on Wednesday appealed an April 20 (pdf) judgment from the Delhi High Court which it said would essentially lead to Google Search being classified as a social media intermediary under the law. A Delhi High Court division bench issued notice of the appeal on Wednesday, CNBC-TV18 reported.

The April 20 order came in a case filed against several tech companies by a petitioner who found her social media photos uploaded to adult sites, which were then cached by Google search. As Google removed the outdated cached results, the petitioner said the images reappeared on other sites, leading the court to order the company to proactively remove all similar images when approached. by the police.

In a media statement on the 82-page single-judge court ruling, Google said:

Search engines reflect the content and information available on the Internet. And while we maintain a consistent policy on removing objectionable content from search results, Delhi High Court order imposed certain obligations that would wrongly classify Google search as a social media intermediary. The instruction also requires the proactive identification and global disabling of access to any content that may be similar to the offending content, that may appear on any other website / online platform, or in any other context. We have filed an appeal against this part of the order and look forward to explaining to you what steps we are taking to remove objectionable content from Google search results. [emphasis added]

Under the rules on intermediaries, Google’s affiliate YouTube likely has obligations to comply, but the court order essentially subjects search to some of the same rules, which the company says will lead to a heavy classification of d ‘a social media intermediary.

“Use automated tools to […] disable access “

The Delhi High Court order told Google (as well as Yahoo, Bing and DuckDuckGo) that:

(iii) An instruction is issued to search engines Google Search, Yahoo Search, Microsoft Bing, and DuckDuckGo, globally deindex and dereference from their search results the offending content as identified by its web url and image url, including the deindexing and dereferencing of all web pages, subpages or subdirectories concerned on whom the offending content is found, at once and in any event within 24 hours of receiving a copy of this judgment as well as the information requested from the investigator, as indicated below;

(iv) Another instruction is given to search engines Google Search, Yahoo Search, Microsoft Bing, DuckDuckGo, strive to use automated tools, proactively identify and globally disable access to any content that is exactly the same to the offending content, which may appear on any other website / online platform; [emphasis court’s]

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The order appears to allow the police to order directly, with the authority of the court, any website block access to content deemed illegal.

The injured party should also be permitted, on the basis of a court order made with respect to specific offending material, to notify the law enforcement agency to remove the offending material from. other website, online platform or search engine (s) on which identical or similar offending content appears, whether in the same context or in a different context. Upon this notification by the injured party, the law enforcement agency must inform the relevant website, online platform and search engine (s), which (the latter) would be obliged to comply with such a request; and, if there is a technological difficulty or other objection to comply with it, the website, online platform or search engine (s) may apply to the relevant court which made the decision. ‘order, asking for clarification but only after complying at the request made by the injured party. [emphasis court’s]

The order explained that this weighed the right to restore the content against the risk to the reputation of the petitioner in the case. Under the Intermediate Rules, the court said, people whose content is removed can appeal the removal, but only after its immediate removal.

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