Tech giants Google, Yahoo and Microsoft have all agreed to block any ad for services that would determine the sex of an unborn child in India. The companies have kept a strict order which was from the highest court in the country.
Reports showed that the health ministry in India had told the Supreme Court on Monday that there was going to be a blockade of 22 keywords which all led to prenatal sex testing by the three tech companies. The court was hearing a case which involves the blockade of online content that would promote prenatal sex selection services, something that was banned back in 1994.
The second largest country, population wise, has one of the worst gender imbalances in the world. Census stats from 2011 show that for every 914 females born, a 1,000 males are also born. The law put in 1994 banned the sex determination and the sex selective abortions which took place then.
Sons are still seen as preferable in some regions, therefore secretive abortions have been taking place there. In 2015, one UN report showed that legislation had not been as effective as hoped. The report showed that males were more likely to get better health care when compared to their female counterparts. Boys are seen as breadwinners and better carriers of the family name in most cases.
The India Supreme Court had ordered Google, Yahoo and Microsoft to stop showing any ads for the sex discrimination kits, tools and clinics back in July. The judge presiding the case, Justice Dipak Misra noted that it was a social evil.
Then, the three firms argued that blocking the keywords would be infeasible and also argued that the filters would also block other articles for research papers and news articles for the topics. The justices however dismissed the arguments and said the companies were actually violating Indian law, patently.
Justice Misra said the companies had to follow the rules and regulations and the companies could not say they were not technically equipped. The petition to block such ads was brought forward by Dr Sabu George, who according to the BBC, is the leading activist against female foeticide in India.
Google told news reporters that it would be disabling the auto complete predictions for all searches related to the matter and it would also display a warning which would inform the users that the services they are looking for are illegal in India. Yahoo declined to comment and Microsoft did not reply in time.