Indian Court Demands Google Hand Over Anonymous Blogger's Identity

from the anonymity-not-allowed dept

It would appear that Google is discovering some of the differences in the legal system in India as compared to the US. Just after we wrote about how Google (along with Microsoft and Yahoo) were sued over ads, there are some stories coming out about how an Indian court has ordered Google to hand over the identity of an anonymous blogger who was criticizing an Indian company, Gremach Infrastructure Equipments & Projects Ltd. While anonymous speech is somewhat protected (within certain limits) in the US, that's not the case in many other countries. As the link above notes, this may force Google to change the way it does business in India.

In some ways, this is just another example of a problem that many folks have been asking about for years. On a borderless web, how do you know whose jurisdiction covers what? If the blogging all occurred on US servers hosted by a US company, should they be covered by US laws... or Indian laws? Or, even, some other country entirely? If you agree that once it's on the internet, it can be covered by laws in other countries, you end up with a bad result: the worst, strictest laws suddenly become the laws everywhere. That's a ridiculous outcome, but it's exactly where things go when you start suing an American company concerning content hosted in America under laws from another country.


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1.  
    identicon
    Lawrence D'Oliveiro, Aug 15th, 2008 @ 12:50am

    When the tables are turned ...

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  2.  
    identicon
    bob, Aug 15th, 2008 @ 1:41am

    The article really wasn't clear.
    Was this person posting on an Indian server?
    If he wasn't, and he's not an Indian citizen there isn't jack they can do about it.

    I can sit here all day and rail against Tata consulting's unfair business practices knowingly skirting U.S. law by dumping underpaid L1 visa holders on the American tech worker market.

    I can type it over and over ... even if it weren't true, which it is. They can read it all they like in India and there isn't thing one they can do.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  3.  
    identicon
    bobbknight, Aug 15th, 2008 @ 2:12am

    It All Cames Down To The Bottom Line

    Let Google give up the guy in India.
    Let the guys dependents sue google in that town is west TX.
    Lets look at the out come.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  4.  
    identicon
    jp, Aug 15th, 2008 @ 3:22am

    Happy independence day

    While i read this, i got several mails from my fellow Indians where they are joyfully screaming "happy independence day" !!!

    The guy is lucky to write some thing about a construction company! If he had written about any politician, he would have even been killed !!

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  5.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Aug 15th, 2008 @ 4:52am

    Re: Happy independence day

    And what leads you to the conclusion that he will not be?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  6.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Aug 15th, 2008 @ 5:11am

    Indian Blogger;

    His real name is Phandomalon Shriekeilhamdz but you can call him "Bob".

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  7.  
    identicon
    Flyfish, Aug 15th, 2008 @ 5:17am

    google should tell India to pound sand. They should point to the court ruling that told the US we couldn't regulate offshore internet gambling and say tough....but I doubt they will, they rolled over for China, they'll roll over for India too.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  8.  
    identicon
    Jake, Aug 15th, 2008 @ 5:30am

    Rock And A Hard Place

    I don't see what choice the Indian government -any government- has but to demand that overseas websites making their content available in their country comply with that country's laws or be blocked in that country, because the alternative sets another potentially dangerous precedent; an Internet whose population of content creators can pick and choose which country's laws they are subject to.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  9.  
    identicon
    MAtt, Aug 15th, 2008 @ 5:33am

    maybe we need a new country

    I have a solution: Let's consider the Internet a sovereign country and allow people to "immigrate" to it. Naturally all residents of the Internet have dual citizenship, but the laws of the Internet solely govern any on-line transaction.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  10.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Aug 15th, 2008 @ 6:00am

    jim bob from butt land

    I say let them have it, unless the guy is a true idiot his name will be something like jo blo, with an email address of yourmom@yahoo.com

    who really uses their real info when online?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  11.  
    identicon
    WG, Aug 15th, 2008 @ 6:17am

    Re: maybe we need a new country

    You know, that's not a bad idea! The only problem, though, is who would be responsible for deciding just how the infrastucture would be set up to allow for logical freedom of expression, such as we have here in the U.S., and be immune from the repressive, archaic, and paranoid delusions that permeate most of the Mid-East countries?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  12.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Aug 15th, 2008 @ 7:03am

    Happy Independence day!!

    Happy independence day India!

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  13.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Aug 15th, 2008 @ 7:07am

    Re: Rock And A Hard Place

    Why do I have the feeling that in the quasi-near future (eg in my life time, so within 60 years or so knowing my family history) the Internet will be declared International Territory just because of all the legal headaches?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  14.  
    identicon
    David, Aug 15th, 2008 @ 7:22am

    Some more background

    There's some good, in-depth information on the case at Google Knol:

    http://knol.google.com/k/david-sarokin/google-ordered-to-reveal-blogger/l9cm7v116zcn/7#view

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  15.  
    icon
    elmer (profile), Aug 15th, 2008 @ 8:07am

    What is stopping Google from handing over bogus info? Or for that matter claiming the IP comes from out of India and is thus out of jurisdiction?

    With all of these countries demanding IDs from bloggers I imagine that any serious blogger from these countries is already taking security measures, so using an US based proxy wouldn't be to far of a stretch.

    The whole liability thing should be just as simple to deal with. It should be India/the company that has to prove that the blogger falls within their jurisdiction. And all Google has to do is point to an IP that isn't based in India to prove that he isn't. Meanwhile they should countersue for all the bad PR they are getting! Especially if they are forced to reveal any information, bogus or not.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  16.  
    identicon
    Talthsimar, Aug 15th, 2008 @ 8:47am

    Re: maybe we need a new country

    I kinda like that idea... but then is it a democracy or a dictatorship or an anarchy? =P

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  17.  
    identicon
    Eskimo Heel, Aug 15th, 2008 @ 8:53am

    Shopping for jurisdiction

    There is already heavy duty 'shopping for jurisdiction' here in the US. If your crime is 'obscenity' on the net, prosecutors go after you in the most conservative of the states - say in a small conservative Baptist town in Iowa - even if the servers and the content owner live in West Hollywood. Soon I imagine you will be able to be tried in Iran for showing an indecent picture of a woman - you know, no veil - on a web site in New York with servers in Holland. That will be fun, yes?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  18.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Aug 15th, 2008 @ 9:06am

    google aint no saint.......

    You people seem to have a very optimistic view of google. Come on people it is the same company that agreed to chinese requests of spying on its users. If google withdraws from india that would provide a nice opportunity for a local company.

    I dont think google is that saintly...

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  19.  
    identicon
    Theta2011, Aug 15th, 2008 @ 10:33am

    Re: maybe we need a new country

    ...Wow. That really isn't a bad idea at all. But, as someone mentioned, who gets to plan out the government and write up the legislature?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  20.  
    identicon
    Kyros, Aug 15th, 2008 @ 10:35am

    Google

    Google is just a company. But it's a good company. Google does indicate if Chinese results are being censored, which is a step forward. It's better then nothing, which is what the Chinese would of gotten otherwise.

    In this case, again, just block all the Indian IP ranges. I'm not sure how Google with handle this actually, but it seems if they go along with it, this guy may be in physical danger.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  21.  
    identicon
    John Doe, Aug 15th, 2008 @ 10:46am

    Oh what a tangled World Wide Web we weave. Google needs to ignore the request. If India doesn't like it, they can follow China's lead and block web sites. I would hope the US Gov't does not force Google to comply.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  22.  
    identicon
    king, Aug 15th, 2008 @ 10:49am

    Re: maybe we need a new country

    Too late, too many countries already "have drawn" their own laws about internet. So, nobody will agree to change them "in a second".

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  23.  
    identicon
    MAtt, Aug 15th, 2008 @ 11:15am

    Re: Re: maybe we need a new country

    Start by creating a new definition for the word "country," or at least not restricting your thinking to what it means to be a country as we know it. As for governance, we may need a paradigm shift. True communism doesn't work, yet strict totalitarian rule is out of the question. True fascism is interesting, though prone to abuse as much as anything else.
    There exists the same opportunity as had the founders of the US Constitution to observe and learn from extant forms of government.
    Now is the time to clear the cob webs from the part of your brain in which your college computer ethics class resides...

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  24.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Aug 15th, 2008 @ 12:29pm

    Re: Re: Re: maybe we need a new country

    Start by creating a new definition for the word "country," or at least not restricting your thinking to what it means to be a country as we know it.
    You think the existing countries would agree to that? Not a chance. They aren't about to give up any power.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  25.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Aug 15th, 2008 @ 12:31pm

    Re:

    They can read it all they like in India and there isn't thing one they can do.
    Indian courts seem to disagree with you on that.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  26.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Aug 15th, 2008 @ 12:34pm

    Re:

    If India doesn't like it, they can follow China's lead and block web sites.
    What if the Indian courts issue international arrest warrants for Google executives and request extradition?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  27.  
    identicon
    Rekrul, Aug 15th, 2008 @ 2:25pm

    If Google has servers or offices in another country, I believe that it's considered to be a business in that country and must abide by their laws.

    Now if only someone could come up with some way for Google to have all its servers and offices located only in America, but yet allow the rest of the world to access those servers. Maybe some kind of global network of connected computers so that users in one country could access servers in another country. You could call it the WorldNet or GlobalNet, or something catchy like that. Everyone would connect to it in their home country and be able to access computers anywhere in the world. Gee, I'm surprised that nobody has ever designed anything like that before. I'm sure it would be a big hit.

    Nah, way too improbable. Much easier to just open a branch of your company in every country in the world where you want people to be able to access your service...

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  28.  
    identicon
    Nischal Shetty, Aug 16th, 2008 @ 2:56am

    Re: maybe we need a new country

    thts a great suggestion.. I agree with you.. It would be so cool to have the internet as a completely new country, with its own law, its own court, politicians, corruption et al ;o)

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  29.  
    identicon
    BTR1701, Aug 16th, 2008 @ 7:48am

    Re: Re: Extradition

    > What if the Indian courts issue international arrest warrants
    > for Google executives and request extradition?

    We say no.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  30.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Aug 16th, 2008 @ 10:13am

    Re: Re: Re: Extradition

    We say no.
    What if we have treaties with India which require it?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  31.  
    identicon
    Eldakka, Aug 18th, 2008 @ 2:20am

    Re: Re:

    What if the Indian courts issue international arrest warrants for Google executives and request extradition?
    Whats an 'international arrest warrant'?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  32.  
    identicon
    Angry_Indian, Aug 18th, 2008 @ 4:58am

    "Whats an 'international arrest warrant'?"

    Something routed through Interpol, most probably.

    I'm an Indian BTW, and I'd like to tell my 'elected representatives' where exactly to stuff that court order of theirs. High time we realised that it's the 21st century and updated our laws!

    P.S. What's Techdirt's policy if a court now demands my IP address? :P

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  33.  
    identicon
    Annony, Aug 18th, 2008 @ 10:12am

    Hey WG- India is part of Asia. It is NOT part of the middle eastern countries.
    Also don't assume western countries don't have archaic laws on their books or that people in western countries behave in a manner that is not archaic.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  34.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Aug 19th, 2008 @ 2:17pm

    Re: Re: Re:

    Whats an 'international arrest warrant'?
    A warrant issued in one nation and passed on to another for enforcement.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  35.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Aug 4th, 2009 @ 3:39am

    Well -- there is no need to threaten Google executives. Google hands over the IP addresses, pretty tamely usually. It doesn't even check that these IP addresses should be in India. It can be your USA IP addresses handed over just as easily.

    You don't believe me, right ? No wonder it shocked me too.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  36.  
    identicon
    IHand, Sep 26th, 2009 @ 2:18am

    Comment #35 is exactly correct, unfortunately.

    Indian Law is not the problem here, as much as Indian lawlessness is.

    Help from the Indian Courts is therefore optional.

    To unmask IP addresses of any Orkut and Google user, the crucial step is to make the right connections with Indian Police (if you are in India, everybody and their grandmother knows at least three and one third middlemen who will be glad to link you up).

    Indian Police seems to have very special deals with Orkut and Google for obtaining IP addresses quickly and efficiently without any Court involvement. No subpoena required ! And this is not corruption, but just the invocation of Indian Criminal Procedure Code.

    For all you care, the affected Google or Orkut user can be American or Greenlander or Chinese living in Kinshaha. That hasn't been a problem for the Indian Police in extracting IP addresses.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]


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