Google, Yahoo, Microsoft Will Stop Showing Gender Test Ads After Supreme Court’s Rap


After Supreme Court of India scolded search engine giants Google, Microsoft and Yahoo for showing gender test advertisements, they have agreed to stop such ads with immediate effect.

Health Ministry of India, which was fighting this case in the court, informed the bench comprising of Justices Dipak Misra and C. Nagappan that these search engines have agreed to ban a list of 22 keywords which showcased gender test ads.

This ban on pre-natal gender tests advertisements would be applicable pan-India, and the search engines would implement this within a specific time-frame.

Some of the highly sensitive keywords which have been blocked include: gender selection, baby selection, pre-natal, sex selection with prefixes or suffixes such as clinics, test kits, techniques, services and more.

Having said that, The Ministry of Electronics & Information Technology, via Solicitor General Ranjit Kumar informed the Court that this ban is not permanent and exhaustive; and it needs to be revised and revamped from time to time for better implementation of the online advertisements.

The petition was filed by Sabu George Mathews, who had accused search engines to defy Indian laws as gender tests are banned here. As per the petition, all such forms of advertisements which promote and sell gender tests should be banned.

During the last hearing, the bench had asked, “Can these search engines continue to violate the law? Is there nothing that can be done to completely stop them? Google, Microsoft, Yahoo can’t continue doing the illegal activity in the name of being an intermediary,”

The petition also requested the Court to implement a blanket ban on all content related with pre-natal gender tests as well. This order of Court couldn’t be affirmed by the search engines, as they informed that this is technically not feasible.

However, in case any person searches any such keyword, then the search engines will showcase a warning about the Indian laws and then auto-block the content if accessed.

In short, any web page containing the banned words would be soon auto-blocked from the search engine result pages originating from India; although they would be present in search results.

Google has also said that they will disable auto-complete predictions for these words which have been banned as per Court’s orders.

Ministry of Health and Family Welfare has been asked to share their feedback to these suggestions; and the next hearing is on November 16, 2016.

This is indeed a positive step to stop illegal activities pertaining to gender tests. But can stopping search engines from showing gender test ads is enough to stop female foeticide in a country, where male-female ratio is one of the most misbalanced in the entire world?

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