When the two companies, which are among 20 that face charges for failing to censor content, showed up for court Tuesday, they were told the trial has been moved to May 23 with a new judge, according to the Wall Street Journal.
Vinay Rai, an Indian journalist, filed the federal complaint against Facebook and Google’s YouTube after he viewed content on the sites he considered obscene and mocked Hindus, Muslims and Christians.
Google and Facebook have asked the Delhi High Court to dismiss the case, but they’ll have to wait until early May for a hearing. Google declined to comment on Tuesday about the proceedings and Facebook did not respond to a request for comment.
The lawsuit sheds light on the legal risks and liabilities companies assume to operate in India, where only about 10% of the population uses the Internet. The Indian government wants to prevent unfavorable views of political figures and religion.
Last year, India began enforcing new cyber law regulations that require companies to do a better job of monitoring and removing content. Within 36 hours of notification, a company is supposed to remove content believed to be offensive or racist, “obscene” “blasphemous,” “harmful,” or “defamatory” among a list of other things.
In this case, Google and Facebook say Rai didn’t notify them of any questionable content before filing his complaint, so they didn’t have a chance to remove the “unfavorable” content. Many websites find it difficult to operate under these standards because it’s impossible for Google or Facebook to monitor every post people share and post.
Furthermore, Facebook and Google claim the Indian Information Technology Act of 2008 doesn’t require them to take liability for user-generated content.
This isn’t the first time two Internet giants have argued in the Indian court this year. In January, the court threatened to blackout Google and Facebook if the sites didn’t shutdown sites the government didn’t like. To comply with the India court, Google and Facebook flipped the switch on web pages considered offensive to India’s political and religious leaders in early February.
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