Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Why Google News Items Are Disappearing From Its News Database?

V K Singh

At times you may feel frustrated by the fact that your article or news appearing at the Google news database or search engine disappears without any reason. You may consider it as a technical glitch or attribute the same as some mistake at your part that forced the Google to remove the contents.

But what if this becomes a routine activity that also regarding only those news or search results that are deemed to be controversial by the government? Obviously, this is a deliberate and systematic act on the part of the search engine and government of a nation where that search/news database is operating.

Many of our articles and news are systematically removed from time to time by Google India. Initially we thought it to be a technical glitch. However, when the frequency of this exercise increased and many of our news and articles disappeared without any reason or cause, we were forced to write up this piece of our apprehension. It may be right or it may be wrong, you decide the same and enlighten us. We are keeping open this article for public comments subject to moderation.

The latest to face censorship at the hands of Google is our article regarding civil liberty violations by Indian government through projects like Aadhar/UID Project, Natgrid, CCTNS, etc. These projects are not supported by any law and they are also violative of right to privacy and other constitutional rights of Indians.

The government of India gained draconian, unconstitutional and illegal e-surveillance, Internet censorship, website blocking and many such Orwellian powers through the information technology amendment act, 2008 (IT Act 2008). The IT Act 2008 amended the sole cyber law of India i.e. information technology act 2000 (IT Act 2000) and conferred unregulated and unreasonable e-surveillance and censorship powers upon Indian government and its agencies. Till now the Indian government has not prescribed procedural safeguards and guidelines subject to which these Orwellian powers can be exercised. As a result the government is using these powers without any accountability and transparency.

Obviously, all tech companies and search engines must also comply with the official as well as unofficial, legal as well as illegal demands of Indian government and its agencies. It seems Google India is doing just the same.

Now since the words and deeds are out an explanation from Google India in this regard would be appreciated. We may be wrong in our analysis but then we cannot be wrong on all the occasions.

We would also keep on posting about any such incidence in future when we face similar problem from any tech company or search engine.

Access To Justice for Marginalised People Of India

Of late, the Law Minister Mr. Veerappa Moily has been very active in suggesting judicial reforms in India. They are very good reforms and if implemented in a timely manner would drastically reforms the judicial system of India. Indian judicial system needs a complete overhaul.

Of late, Indian judicial system has become a play ground for men with long purses and poor and marganilised segments of India are not even aware what justice is all about. The Law Ministry is considering this aspect and trying to bring suitable reforms so that justice may be delivered to the poor at their doorsteps.

This is a very good initiative provided it is performed in a planned and holistic manner. Moily has already mooted an idea of mobile courts on trains. State legal service officials will travel in the special train that will function as a Lok Adalat and Gram Nyayalaya. Further, Moily has also been very active in releasing under trials that are undergoing trails for petty offences but over crowding the prisons. The proposed National Litigation Policy (NLP) would also bring suitable legal and judicial reforms in India.

However, there are grey areas as well. Till now most of the legal and judicial reforms proposed by Moily have remained as mere promises far from being actual implementation. Further, Moily is also shy in using information and communication technology (ICT) for legal and judicial reforms in India.

For instance, the failure of e-court project of India has ultimately resulted in its scrapping. This was a very crucial project that got sacrificed due to lack of accountability, planning, expertise and many more factors. Think about the benefits it could have produced for the dying legal and judicial system of India.

Take the mobile train courts scenario. A better result could have been achieved through e-courts by not even leaving the court or chamber of a judge or lawyer. The extra costs and manpower could be saved by a good e-court model.

The problem seems to be lack of expertise to establish and manage effective e-courts in India. There is just a single techno-legal e-courts training, research and consultancy Centre in the entire world. Fortunately, the same is an Indian centre and the same can be handy while inculcating techno-legal ICT skills among judges, lawyers, court staffs, etc.

Of course, appropriate training is required before the judges, lawyers, court staff, etc can actively use e-courts. Even that aspect has been taken care of by the online platform of Perry4Law Techno-Legal Base (PTLB). The judges, lawyers, etc can learn about important techno-legal fields like cyber law, cyber security, cyber forensics, telecommunications laws, e-courts, etc even while sitting in their respective chambers. Further, training in the area of online dispute resolution (ODR) is also available. We hope Law Minister Moily would consider these initiatives while bringing suitable legal and judicial reforms in India.