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Sex determination: SC directs Centre to delete online keywords

SC asked tech majors such as Google, Microsoft and Yahoo to block information from their search engines on online sex determination in India
Supreme Court of India

The Supreme Court on Wednesday directed the Centre to form a nodal agency to look into the complaints pertaining to sex determination tests.

The apex court also asked tech majors such as Google, Microsoft and Yahoo to block information from their search engines on online sex determination in India, and gave them 36 hours to do it.

A two-judge bench led by justice Dipak Misra said, “If it’s found that there are certain words which facilitated sex determination, then those words should be deleted in 36 hours.”

The court’s order came on a public interest litigation filed by petitioner Sabu Mathew George, a member of the National Inspection and Monitoring Committee. He had alleged that sex-determination advertisements and links were freely available online defeating the purpose of the Pre-Conception and Pre-Natal Diagnostic Techniques Act, enacted in 1994 to stop female foeticides and check the declining sex ratio in India.

Sabu Mathew George asked for the court’s intervention to get the government to crack down on advertisements of sex-determination kits, tools and clinics on websites.

The court in July had directed the Centre to immediately frame a memorandum on Google, Microsoft and Yahoo showing content on sex determination on its websites. “Google, Microsoft, Yahoo cannot continue doing the illegal activity in the name of being an intermediary,” the court had observed.

In September, the Centre had informed the apex court that search engines by Google, Yahoo and Microsoft have introduced an “autoblock” system to bar content on sex determination from being shared online.

The companies had said anyone running a search for the 22 keywords they had identified, including “sex determination”, will not find any information online.

 

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