Underlining 43 keywords relating to pre-natal gender tests, the Supreme Court on Monday directed Internet search engines Google, Yahoo and Microsoft to enable a system of ‘auto-block’ that would black out information on sex determination online in India.
It set a deadline of 36 hours for the search engines to block the pages after being informed by the agency. Observing that the search engines cannot act as a “catalyst” in aggravating the declining sex ratio, the apex court expressed concern over the obsession of people for male child.
A bench led by Justice Dipak Misra said that the search engines are obligated under the laws of the land to ensure that not only these 43 keywords, but also other combination of words that might throw up results on pre-natal gender tests are blocked as soon as possible. The court shot down an argument by the counsel for Google, Yahoo and Microsoft that they would block other keywords only after such information is brought to their notice.
Senior advocate A M Singhvi, appearing for Google India, said – “I have to search billions of pages to find out the word pre-natal test to block them. The literature on the subject is needed for the students and researchers and a blanket ban is not feasible. PCPNDT talks about only advertisements and not text.” Moreover, he added that, “I have to search billions of pages to find out the word pre-natal test to block them. The literature on the subject is needed for the students and researchers and a blanket ban is not feasible. PCPNDT talks about only advertisements and not text.”
All the search engines further agreed to publish warning messages and public announcements on the ‘search result’ page and also to restructure its auto-fill forms on the search pages to ensure elimination of words relating to pre-natal gender selection and tests. Keyword search terms will also be reviewed in future, they said. Do share your perspectives in the comment section below!