Internet giants Google Inc and Facebook removed content from some Indian domain websites on Monday following a court directive warning them of a crackdown “like China” if they did not take steps to protect religious sensibilities. The two are among 21 companies ordered to develop a mechanism to block material considered religiously offensive to the Prophet Mohammed, Jesus and various Hindu gods and goddesses, after private petitioners took them to court over images deemed offensive to Hindus, Muslims and Christians.
Two cases have been brought by individuals against internet companies in India, stoking fears about censorship in the world’s largest democracy. “(Our) review team has looked at the content and disabled this content from the local domains of (Google) search, Youtube and Blogger,” Google spokeswoman Paroma Roy Chowdhury said.
At the heart of the dispute is a law that India passed last year making companies responsible for user content posted on their websites, and giving them 36 hours to take down content if there is a complaint.
Last month, the companies said it was not possible for them to block content. Google’s Roy Chowdhury declined to comment on what had since been removed, and a Facebook representative said only that the company would release a statement later.