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Religiously objectionable material on the internet

Published on 13 January 2012
Updated on 19 March 2024

Aldo Matteucci comments on the Delhi High Court warning to Facebook and Google that their websites will be blocked if they dipsplay “obscene depictions online of Jesus Christ, the Prophet Mohammed, and various Hindu deities.”  He focuses on the role and responsibility of intermediaries (Google and Facebook) on the Internet.


A few excerpts:

The DHC seems to argue that there is a privately held right to have the state censor religiously offensive material – which is available on demand – in order to protect “personal feelings”. If this is the case, then holding such material in the privacy of the home would also fall under the right.


The battle over the “freedom of access” no longer is bilateral: between the individual and the (politically) oppressive state, but a triangular relation where the state is asked to intervene as a “protector of a private right”. It has a subsidiary interest in the matter to the extent that the circulation of religiously offensive images may be inflammatory.



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