Monday 16 January 2012

Google And Facebook Are Beneficiaries Says Indian Government

Google and Facebook are currently fighting a legal battle in the Delhi High Court against a trial court’s order to prosecute them along with other websites and social media platforms. Google and Facebook appeared today before the Delhi High Court to prove their innocence in the recently filed criminal case before a trial court. Meanwhile the trial court has asked the representatives of the parent companies to appear before it and face the trial.

The Delhi High Court on Monday adjourned the hearing of the petition filed by Google and Facebook challenging the trial court's order to prosecute them for objectionable content, till January 19.

Some arguments were raised by both the sides before the Delhi High Court. The Indian government said that websites such as Google and Facebook are liable for the content, posted on their platform by users, as they benefit from the content. This argument was taken to counter the arguments of Google that it does not control or benefit from the platforms, such as YouTube, Orkut or Blogger.

Government’s counsel Hariharan argued that every click on a Google owned website gets it revenue on the content. He said that Google India is wrong in stating that it is just an Ad-collection subsidiary of Google Inc. The Memorandum of Association (MOA) of Google India shows that it is in the business of production of software, internet products, computer aided design, analysis, selling internet search, engineering platforms and solutions. Thus it is not only in the business of advertising alone argues Hariharan.

Citing an analogy, Google India's counsel Neeraj Kishan Kaul argued before the Court that a landlord cannot be held liable for an illegal activity carried out by a tenant in his house. However, this argument did not find favour with Justice Suresh Cait who countered him by saying that if a landlord is benefiting from the illegal activity carried out by a tenant he can be held liable for the same.

The government's counsel also countered Google India's argument that it has no control over the platforms and is a separate legal entity. He pointed that the MOA of Google India’s company clearly states that the office of Google India's Managing director will be vacated upon direction of Google Inc. He also pointed out that the trademark of parent company can also not be changed without parent company’s permission. He also pointed that almost all shares of Google India are owned by the parent company.

The lawyer of Facebook took a different approach. He tried to attack the very evidence that has been relied upon by the complainant. He said that the evidence collected by the complainant is not testified as an electronic record, and thus can't be admitted. The next hearing would be on 19th January 2012.

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