Search engines like Google and Bing will be banning search results and ads of prenatal sex determination services in India according to a directive from the government. The Indian government had been demanding the banning of prenatal sex determination services and ads from showing on Google and Bing search results but the companies had insisted that if they blocked search results of prenatal sex determination services in India they may also end up blocking other related content like research reports and news articles.
The High Court then issued a warning that either companies like Alphabet Inc., Yahoo! and Microsoft Corp. block search results and ads of prenatal sex determination services from appearing during the searches, or they shut down their operations altogether. Now that was a compelling reason to comply with the order.
According to the order of the High Court bench, “It is directed that the respondents, namely, Google, Yahoo and Microsoft shall not advertise or sponsor any advertisement which would violate Section 22 of the PC-PNDT Act 1994. If any advertisement is there on any search engine, the same shall be withdrawn forthwith by the respondents.”
The High Court has also ordered the search engine companies to upload the restraint order on their policy pages as well as “terms and conditions of service” pages.
The State Solicitor General Ranjit Kumar also wants these technology companies to cooperate and find out content that is already indexed and stored in their servers and then such content be removed. The law enforcement agencies are also seeking the URLs and their IP addresses so that such websites can be removed from the Internet with immediate effect.
Google, in a statement released to various news agencies, said, “Keeping in mind the sensitivities attached to this issue and to ensure that technology is used in right earnest to curb this retrograde practice, we have decided to disable certain terms from appearing as auto complete predictions as well as display a warning message on relevant searches to inform users of the unlawful nature of the subject.”
The companies have no option but to block the search results and ads of prenatal sex determination services in India. Later on they will be figuring out how to weed out just the search results and ads of prenatal sex determination services and otherwise allow the other search results to show up. A sweeping ban at a permanent level wouldn’t be advisable.
The sex ratio in India is alarmingly skewed. For every 1000 males in India, there are just 943 females according to the 2011 census. According to a 2007 UNICEF report, 7000 female fetuses and babies were being killed both in the womb and immediately after birth every day. Conducting, selling and promoting prenatal sex determination services have been declared punishable offence since 1994 but there are numerous such clinics and services running in the country secretly and now they also advertise on search engines like Google, Bing and Yahoo search.