Information about individuals posting derogatory content online should be revealed so that criminal proceedings can be initiated against them, feels Vinay Rai, who has gone to court against Web sites that he feels post objectionable content.
Journalist Vinay Rai, who filed a petition in a lower court last December seeking that objectionable content available online on Google, Facebook and 21 other search engines and social networking sites be removed, says the companies involved should themselves identify a process to filter such content or regulate posts on its Web sites.
The matter is currently being heard in the Delhi high court. Rai argued that any directive from the government in this regard could lead to censorship in the future.
Hence, he felt these Internet companies should take the responsibility for content posted on its Web sites and devise methods to regulate it themselves.
"Yes, there is freedom of expression, but you cannot take my freedom for a ride for the sake of your ability to express yourself freely," Rai said.
"I feel there are certain things that should be prevented from appearing online because it may result in greater chaos and disturbance in society," Rai added.
Explaining the nature of the petition he has filed, Rai said the petition he had filed in a lower court said the owners of Web sites with content -- which may be deemed derogatory and likely to hurt the religious sentiments of a community -- should be asked to remove such content from these sites.
"The courts in our country are there to protect the rights and freedom of all citizens," he argued. "If the courts too agree that something is amiss about the stuff posted online, then we must listen to them," Rai said.
Lawyers for most of the companies named in Rai's petition have argued in the high court that it is not practically possible to monitor or regulate the content being posted on its sites, due to the large numbers of individuals posting online content.
"In that case," argued Rai, "My personal belief is that companies should reveal the details of the person who is posting content online which may hurt another person, so that one can go ahead with criminal proceedings against the former."
"They (the Internet companies)," Rai added, "should at least provide the details of the person posting online.
"What's the harm in that?" he asked.