New Delhi: US-based search engine Google Inc, facing a civil lawsuit along with 21 other websites for allegedly hosting objectionable contents on its web posts, has told a Delhi court that the blanket ban and monitoring of material would be against the right to freedom of speech and expression guaranteed under the Indian Constitution.
In a reply, filed before Administrative Civil Judge Parveen Singh, Google Inc said, "Its mission is to organize the world's information and make it universally accessible and useful. Most services offered by it are premised on sharing of information and knowledge without the exercise of any editorial control or of monitoring by it."
The US giant is being impleaded as a party in the civil suit filed by Mufti Aijaz Arshad Qasmi through his lawyer Santosh Pandey seeking to restrain it and 21 other websites from posting objectionable contents and removal of existing ones from their web posts.
Seeking to set aside the case against it, the company said that a blanket ban on certain contents from being carried by "platforms" would not be legal, given the fact that the Constitution guarantees the right to freedom of speech and expression.
Google Inc also filed written statements on behalf of its subsidiaries -- Orkut and Youtube -- saying they offer various products and services that have been developed with the intention of providing platforms for the exchange of ideas to enable communication and to allow access of information.
It said that orkut.com, blogspot.com, blogger.com and youtube.com are the online platforms facilitating access to information and entertainment and the content is user generated.
The court, which dropped the case against software giant Microsoft India on account of lack of specific allegations against it, would now hear and decide the suit on March 5.
The firm, in its reply, also said that it does not select or procure contents before they are uploaded on sites.
"Premised on the philosophy of free speech, Google Inc does not select or procure the content that are uploaded on its websites nor does it perform proactive monitoring or editing in relation to the content uploaded.
"The content available on these websites in the nature of user uploaded or generated content and are not created, selected, affected, controlled or determined by Google Inc or Youtube in any manner whatsoever," it said.
Replying to the pleas against subsidiary Youtube, also a party to the suit, it said that as of February 2012, more than 48 hours of video were uploaded every minute on it, reflecting the volume of contents.
It said Google, Orkut and Youtube do not have direct or personal knowledge of the nature of uploaded contents.
Policies on monitoring vary across different categories of products, it said adding that a certain universally applicable policies such as zero tolerance for child pornography is already in place.
"Most products that allow for user generated content are governed by a set of common policies such as prohibiting hate speech, graphic violence, threat of violence against specific individuals or groups and the promotion of dangerous or illegal acts," it said.
It also said that users can report objectionable content to it, which is disabled if found in violation of its policies by its team of dedicated reviewers.
First Published: Sunday, March 4, 2012, 11:52