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Microsoft, Google file appeal against removal of non-consensual intimate images from internet: Here's why

Google and Microsoft are opposing an order given by a single-judge bench of the Delhi High Court which requires search engines to proactively remove non-consensual intimate images from the internet.

Written By: Om Gupta New Delhi Published on: May 09, 2024 12:06 IST
Microsoft, Google
Image Source : FILE Microsoft, Google

Microsoft and Google, two of the world's largest tech companies, have filed a petition in the Delhi High Court. They are opposing the order given by a single-judge bench, which requires search engines to proactively remove non-consensual intimate images (NCII) from the internet, without having specific URLs. Microsoft and Google contend that this directive is technically unfeasible and goes beyond the current legal framework.

During proceedings before a division bench of Acting Chief Justice Manmohan and Justice Manmeet Pritam Singh Arora, Microsoft stated that complying with the single-judge’s directions is not feasible due to technological limitations and that the directives go beyond established legal boundaries.

The appeals by Microsoft and Google challenge a judgement delivered by Justice Subramonium Prasad on April 26. The appeal was first filed by Microsoft and later Google also filed a similar appeal, which is scheduled for consideration on May 9.

Justice Prasad had cautioned social media intermediaries that they risk losing their liability protection if they fail to adhere to the timeframe specified under the Information Technology Rules for removing non-consensual intimate content.

He had said that search engines possess the necessary technology to remove NCII content without requiring victims to repeatedly seek the court's intervention, and cannot claim helplessness in removing or disabling access to links containing illegal content.

Representing Microsoft, senior advocate Jayant Mehta argued that the single judge's reliance on Meta's tool for content removal is misplaced, as Bing, Microsoft's search engine, does not host any content. He contended that complying with the court's order to proactively search for and remove such content throughout the database is not feasible given current technology limitations.

Mehta also pointed out the impracticality of deploying Artificial Intelligence (AI) tools to execute the directives, as AI would struggle to differentiate between consensual and non-consensual images.

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