Microsoft, Google challenge Delhi HC order to remove non-consensual content

09 May 2024

Microsoft, Google challenge Delhi HC order to remove non-consensual content

Aggrieved by a single-judge order to remove all non-consensual intimate images (NCII) from the internet irrespective of whether such images have been challenged by parties concerned, Microsoft and Google have filed separate appeals in the Delhi High Court.

The earlier Delhi HC order, passed by Justice Subramonium Prasad on 26 April 2023, had directed the internet giants to remove all such content from the internet and had warned that they will lose the liability protection provided under the Information Technology Rules if they fail to remove any non-consensual intimate content well in time.

While uploading such content or allowing to do so (which will also help internet majors expand their already huge viewership base further) is not a big issue, removal of such content often poses “technical problems” for almost all actors on the Web space.

Justice Prasad had insisted that the search engines are equipped with the necessary technology and the authority for removing the NCII content on their own without requiring any intervention by the affected party/parties or the court.

In fact, the judge had warned the search engines against “feigning” helplessness when it comes to removal of links with illegal content.

The single-judge bench had also issued directions to social media intermediaries, the ministry of electronics and information technology and the Delhi Police to expedite the removal of NCII from the internet.

Appearing for Microsoft on Wednesday, Advocate Jayant Mehta, however, argued that Justice Prasad might have equated Microsoft with Meta (Facebook) which uses a different technology and that Microsoft’s search engine Bing does not host any content – it only directs a searcher to a particular website.

He also said the Delhi HC judge overstepped the regulatory framework. 

According to the advocate, Microsoft has to be provided with the URL of the unlawful content to take it down. Mehta said the judge cannot ask Microsoft to search its entire database for an image. 

Also, he said it will be a big task to find out whether a particular content is consensual or without any consent.

Google LLC too had filed a similar petition and its counsel on Wednesday informed the division bench that his client has also filed an appeal against the single judge’s order which is likely to be listed on Thursday. 

The bench will now hear the two cases on Thursday.

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