21 companies including Google and Facebook were issued summons by a lower court in Delhi on Mar 13 for hosting obscene and objectionable content. Google's Chief Business Officer Nikesh Arora has been quoted as saying, "I'm hoping there will be a balanced debate around it and eventually the right thing would happen."
The internet companies have moved the High Court challenging the summons. The hearing on the same is due on Feb 2. Arora was speaking on the sidelines of the World Economic Forum at Davos when he said, "We cannot censor the Web. We cannot censor the ability of people to express themselves around the world. You are asking not just censor the Web in India, you are asking to censor the entire world wide web. The web has no borders. I think the idea of censoring everything and pre-clearing everything is going to fundamentally, sort of, taint the growth of the Indian economy in India and vis-a-vis the world."
The previous hearing in court had seen both Google and Facebook arguing that there was no way for them to screen content before it was posted online. Google had further stated that their Indian subsidiary could not be held responsible for the actions of the parent company.
The case rose to prominence when a Delhi resident, Vinay Rai filed a petition stating that there were obscene depictions of Hindu deities, Prophet Mohammed and Jesus Christ that needed to be removed. Apart from Google and Facebook, Orkut, Yahoo and YouTube are also under the government's radar.