Google Fails To Sway Indian Government On Web Content Restrictions

google-g-logoThe Indian government has enacted tough restrictions on Internet content and publishers, ignoring objections detailed by Google in a confidential memo earlier this year.

According to the Wall Street Journal, the new rules in India place what appears to be a heavy burden on websites to ban users from publishing certain types of content and to remove such content within 36 hours after government notification. The WSJ says Google disagreed with the specific wording that describes objectionable material:

Google’s memo shows that the company sought changes aimed at limiting its potential liability for hosting objectionable content posted by third parties. For example, the company wanted to eliminate a section of the draft rules that outlawed specific categories of content and replace it with a more general ban on material that “violates any law for the time being in force.” The final rules banned any material that is “grossly harmful, harassing, blasphemous” as well as anything “ethnically objectionable” or “disparaging” or that “impersonate(s) another person.”

Google has been fighting battles for years over the issue of who’s responsible for content posted online — often involving videos posted to YouTube. The Italian government recently issued rules that allow it to regulate Google and YouTube as a “broadcaster”. In the US, Google battled with Viacom for several years over YouTube copyright responsibilities, and Google won that lawsuit last summer.

In India, Google argued that the new rules would expose it to liability for user-published content. An Indian government spokesperson tells the WSJ that it will announce a “clarification” to its rules soon to address concerns raised by free-speech advocates.

Related Topics: Channel: Industry | Google: Legal | Google: Outside US | Legal: Copyright | Legal: Regulation

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About The Author: is Editor-In-Chief of Search Engine Land. His news career includes time spent in TV, radio, and print journalism. His web career continues to include a small number of SEO and social media consulting clients, as well as regular speaking engagements at marketing events around the U.S. He recently launched a site dedicated to Google Glass called Glass Almanac and also blogs at Small Business Search Marketing. Matt can be found on Twitter at @MattMcGee and/or on Google Plus. You can read Matt's disclosures on his personal blog.

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  • Srini

    I am from India and personally, I wouldn’t agree with labeling Google as a broadcasters and they just reflect what is out there on the web.
    It is important to note here that so far the Indian Government hasn’t suppressed speech, unless it is of pornographic or intentionally distasteful to people. The only time people would need to be worried about this bill would be when they start to suppress other people’s views that are opposed to the government. Traditionally, this hasn’t been the case in India though.

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