It is usual to hear China demand that Google stop one or the other service that it offers. Now, India too has joined that country in asking Google to remove content and demanding details of users from the Internet giant.
In its six-monthly “transparency report”, Google said that between July and December 2010, India made 1,699 such requests. But more seriously, it asked the search company 67 times to remove content during this period.
It is not clear if these requests involved any security concerns or checking criminals. But some requests—such as removing blogs and videos critical of chief ministers— are clearly not tenable in a democracy. In case the content is defamatory, the right remedy is to approach a court. Forcing Google to remove content or ask for user details—unless on very serious and clearly defined grounds—takes the sheen off our democratic credentials. The government should avoid this behaviour.