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Microsoft off the hook in India censorship case

The Delhi High Court says Microsoft should not be involved in a Web censorship case that has turned its sights firmly on Facebook and Google.

Don Reisinger
Former CNET contributor Don Reisinger is a technology columnist who has covered everything from HDTVs to computers to Flowbee Haircut Systems. Besides his work with CNET, Don's work has been featured in a variety of other publications including PC World and a host of Ziff-Davis publications.
Don Reisinger
2 min read

Microsoft has been given a reprieve in an Indian Web censorship case against several online companies.

The software giant today was told by the Delhi High Court that it will not face charges in the criminal censorship case after the company argued that no formal allegations were brought against it. Microsoft's departure from the case comes after Yahoo was also allowed out.

The Wall Street Journal was first to report on the news.

The India case is focusing on Google and Facebook. Last week, the Journal reported that the companies were forced to head to trial in India after they were charged with failing to censor online content that "will corrupt minds."

For their part, Google and Facebook argue that they're protected under India's information technology law, which they claim protects them against content added to sites by users. The companies have also said that when asked, they comply with take-downs related to "objectionable" content.

A battle between India and the online giants, who are among nearly a dozen defendants, seemed to be brewing in December when the government demanded that all Web companies prescreen user content before it hits the Internet. India's acting telecommunications minister, Kapil Sibal, said at the time that the move would limit inflammatory content finding its way onto the Internet.

Internet censorship has become a key component in online companies' relations with countries around the world. China is perhaps the most notorious censor, taking Web sites down that it believes violate its laws. Google went as far as moving its China search to Hong Kong because of the country's stringent censorship laws.

In India, the stakes are high for all the companies involved. If they're found guilty, the firms could face stiff fines and their executives could be forced to serve jail time.

Microsoft did not immediately respond to CNET's request for comment.