Google and Facebook face gruelling Indian trial

If you think that Bleak House by Charles Dickens is the last word in tortuous legal cases, think again.

Tomorrow, Facebook and Google pleaders will face a trial in New Delhi and despite the armies of lawyers they both command, facing Indian vakils (lawyers) is likely to be an ordeal that La Honda residents could not even contemplate in their worst nightmares.

Defacebook and the non-evil Google face charges that they have wilfully disrespected Indian culture – a culture that goes back several thousand years, uninterrupted like China by a Maoist revolution.

The two firms are accused of allowing blasphemy, libel, and objectionable material to be posted on the world wide web via their sites. India, an unusually tolerant country by other countries’ standards, is dominated by politicians with axes to grind – often religious or caste axes.

Indian lawyers are notorious for being able to drag cases on for years and years – its legal system was originally based on British law, before the country became independent, like Pakistan, in 1947. There is also Russian influence in India too. In the 1960s and 1970s the USSR was on India’s side, sort of.

It is very easy to upset factions in India and its politics is a vast South Asian minefield. Journalist Vinay Rai filed an FIR against the two interweb giants. Google has already kow-towed to requests so there’s no surprise there.

Google always falls at the feet of totalitarian and even democratic governments. It isn’t evil. It is just venal. And Facebook isn’t ready to be crucified on the cross of anti-privacy, it appears.