Google Defends Helping Police Nab Defamer

Google said Monday that it complied with Indian legal process when it gave police information about a user of its Orkut social networking site. With the IP (Internet Protocol) address of a person who had allegedly posted vulgar content about Sonia Gandhi, one of India's top political leaders, on Orkut, police in Pune were able to arrest a suspect.

The company supports the free expression of its users and is committed to protecting user privacy, a spokeswoman said. But like all law-abiding companies, the company complies with local laws and valid legal process, such as court orders and subpoenas, she added.

Google and other Internet companies are often called upon in India to provide information on users of social networking and other sites that have broken the law. While a section of users oppose sharing this information as a violation of privacy, a number of people believe that Internet companies should cooperate with the police and other law enforcement agencies when the modesty and the reputation of a person may have been damaged, or when such information could lead to solving a crime or preventing a terrorist attack.

The Pune police have arrested an IT professional from Gurgaon near Delhi, called Rahul Krishnakumar Vaid, according to media reports from the Western Indian city.

Vaid has been charged under Section 67 of the country's Information Technology Act 2000, which relates to publication of obscene information in electronic content.

Pune's assistant commissioner of police Netaji Shinde confirmed in a telephone interview on Monday that Vaid had been arrested. However, he did not disclose the nature of the derogatory information posted on Orkut, saying only that it had already been removed from the site.

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