Search engine majors have said they are blocking advertisements publicising sex-determination tests but cannot extend the ban to other forms of content, including “search results, videos, blogs or images”.
In their representation to the ministry of electronics and information technology (MeitY), Google, Microsoft and Yahoo claimed that the law, under which pre-natal sex determination is banned, extends to advertisement (that is commercial communication) but does not apply to search results.
However, the multinational companies assured the government to flash a message warning a user, looking for sites on sex-determination tests or laboratories with the facility, that it is illegal to get such a test done.
MeitY has submitted details of its interaction with the companies before the Supreme Court, which will take it up on Tuesday. It was at the top court’s behest that the ministry held a discussion with the industry stakeholders. The SC is hearing a public interest petition filed by Sabu Mathew George who contended that the search engines flout the law and last year’s SC order that bans flashing of ads on pre-natal sex determination.
In its assurance to the ministry, the companies said they will incorporate the warning on or before September 15. The “warning message” will be flashed at the top of “key word searches”, which relate to pre-conception and pre-natal determination of sex or sex selection.
The companies said they have already blocked the “key word search” terms leading to such sites. The list of “key words” that are to be blocked will be reviewed and expanded regularly with the help of the government. They also agreed to block auto-complete suggestions and said it will require six weeks’ time to implement it.
It said that the government’s policy and Supreme Court’s order on the issue has been already placed as part of the terms and condition page.