Google, Indian Police battle Orkut ‘Shivaji Community’ Offenders

An Orkut 'Shivaji Community' search Google intends to make Orkut safer and friendlier for the social networking site’s users in India. Following a recent controversy around Orkut, its parent company Google has gone ahead and assigned a team from its headquarters, to work closely with the Delhi Cyber crime investigation cell.

A Google spokeperson has confirmed this news and stated that the team will be meeting the police from various India states, to create a special ‘reporting tool’ for Indian authorities. The spokes said, “We take the misuse of Orkut very seriously and are reaching out to the appropriate authorities in India to address this.” The initiative is directed towards supporting the law enforcement authorities in their investigation against Orkut and Gmail abusers.”

With this reporting tool, the police can have a direct contact with the Mountain View, California-based company, to discard objectionable material or aid in investigation and prosecution. The spokesperson further added that this new reporting tool will not affect the way Google treats users’ data. Authorities will have to follow the standard legal process in order to get user-identifying information from Google; however, the tool will offer a faster, direct communication between Google and Indian authorities.

The spokesperson added, “Orkut is a community website, so we take the obligations set forth in the Community Standards seriously. We want to foster an environment in which users feel safe, as well as free to speak and interact. Criminals cannot hide behind privacy and use the service for illegal purposes. We will balance all requests with the interests of our users. When we learn about violations, we review and take the necessary actions, which can include removal of the inappropriate content. We have done in many cases, and will continue to do so. That said, we believe that the Internet should be a place that allows and encourages free expression, including controversial and unpopular ideas and opinions.”

The Google spokesperson said, “We take the misuse of Orkut very seriously and are reaching out to the appropriate authorities in India to address this.” The initiative is directed towards supporting the law enforcement authorities in their investigation against Orkut and Gmail abusers.

This reporting tool will enable the police to have a direct line of contact with Google, to remove objectionable material or aid in investigation and prosecution. The spokesperson further added that this new reporting tool will not affect the way Google treats users’ data. Authorities will have to follow the standard legal process in order to get user-identifying information from Google, however, the tool will offer a faster, direct communication between Google and Indian authorities.

The Google spokesperson added, “Orkut is a community website, so we take the obligations set forth in the Community Standards seriously. We want to foster an environment in which users feel safe, as well as free to speak and interact. Criminals cannot hide behind privacy and use the service for illegal purposes. We will balance all requests with the interests of our users. When we learn about violations, we review and take the necessary actions, which can include removal of the inappropriate content. We have done in many cases, and will continue to do so. That said, we believe that the Internet should be a place that allows and encourages free expression, including controversial and unpopular ideas and opinions.”

Orkut has been in the eye of a storm over the past two months, after two public interest litigations were filed against it in Aurangabad and Mumbai for derogatory references to Hindu Maratha warrior king Chhatrapati Shivaji.

With respect to the Shivaji Community, which caused a tumult in Maharashtra, the Google spokesperson said, “We reviewed the community and have removed it, as it violated our community standards. The case for ‘We hate India’ community is sub-judice and we cannot provide any comments on the case or the proceedings of the case. We respect the authorities in India and are committed to working with them.”

When asked if Google is working on any special filter to weed out objectionable content from the site,

In addition, Google has executed several tools to receive, handle and respond to complaints about content on Orkut. “At the same time, we put a certain amount of trust in our users to notify us of violations; the energy and attention of the Orkut community has proven to be very effective in identifying and reporting inappropriate activity. Orkut users can report content to our reviewers by clicking the ‘report as bogus’ button. There are also tools for community owners to delete posts or topics, ban users and delete anonymous posts.”

Google also explained that the reporting tool is simple and does not require any special training for the Indian authorities. “This is part of Google continued efforts to collaborate with the authorities, doing so in a way that of course balances users’ interests and the need for the proper legal process.”