WordPress Rejects Second Legal Request to Remove Photoshopped Image Mocking Indian PM

— Mumbai’s cyber police department seeks to remove content hosted on this blog, BuzzFeed, Google Blogger, Amazon CloudFront, Tumblr, and Flickr

In August, my hosting provider, WordPress, rejected a legal request by Mumbai cyber police to censor a clearly photoshopped image I republished from BuzzFeed last year.

The image, which depicted Indian prime minister Narendra Modi homoerotically embracing his right-hand man Rajnath Singh on an idyllic beach, was deleted by BuzzFeed following a legal threat from Mumbai police alleging defamation.

In case you missed it the first time:

Last week, WordPress rejected a second request by Mumbai police to remove the offending image from my blog. Here is an excerpt from that request as provided to me by Automattic, the company behind WordPress:

Subject: – Remove Photo, Preserve and Provide Details of Objectionable/morphed photo …SHO (SML 28/09/2019)

WHEREAS, Cyber Police Station, Crime Branch, C.I.D., Mumbai, has received a complaint regarding uploading of Objectionable Material by below mentioned link showing morphed/Vulgar Photos/Comments on Muslim Community gods and goddess, BJP Leaders & National Congress leader party in abusive and vulgar manner.

It is found that the suspects are posting such exclamatory and defamatory morphed/vulgar photos with the purpose to create UNREST, BREACH of PEACE which might result in LAW & ORDER problems in Maharashtra, India…

REQUIRED INFORMATION
1. Creation details -IP address with date and time.
2. Login and logout details I.P. Address with date and time from
date…
3. Address book and scraps details of the user
4. Registered Email ID used to access these URLs.
5. Registered Mobile Number of these URLs.
6. Any Other relevant Information of

Please furnish information on TOP PRIORITY BASIS so as to avoid Law and
Order problems in Maharashtra and INDIA.

Thanking in anticipation of an early response to facilitate the enquiries.

(S.S.Sahasrabudhe)
Senior Inspector of Police,
Cyber Police Station,
Crime Branch, CID, Mumbai.

Here is what a spokesperson for Automattic sent me in an e-mail:

As the request does not comply with our requirements, we will not be taking any action against your site at this time … While we may preserve information about your account, we have not turned over any information. We will not turn over any information unless we receive a valid request for the information, or a court order. If we do receive such a request, unless we are legally prohibited from doing so, we will inform you and provide you time when you may attempt to quash or legally challenge the request.

In addition to targeting content on my blog, the request also asked to remove content hosted on BuzzFeed, Google Blogger, Amazon CloudFront, Tumblr, and Flickr, including:

• This parody movie poster depicting Modi as an action hero (via Amazon CloudFront):

• This image depicting Modi as a Lion (via BuzzFeed):

• This image of Modi in a dress (via BuzzFeed):

• This image of Modi dressed as Aladdin (via BuzzFeed):

It does not appear that BuzzFeed, Amazon, Google, or Flickr have complied with the Mumbai police department’s demands. However, all the offending content hosted on Tumblr, including several anti-Islamic and pornographic images, has been deleted.

The Mumbai cyber police did not reply to multiple requests for comment.

You can read the full request via the Scribd embed below.

Reason: Indian Government Attempts to Remove Material From Western Sites

— Reason magazine’s The Volokh Conspiracy hoists Indian cyber police for making frivolous legal demand to censor this blog

Via “Indian Government Attempts to Remove Material from Western Sites,” by Eugene Volokh, Reason, August 27, 2019:

Northern Irish blogger Dean Sterling Jones reports on a successful demand that Buzzfeed remove the photo, and on an unsuccessful demand that WordPress remove it from Jones’ own blog post, which had reported on the Buzzfeed incident. I confirmed that the takedown demand came from the Mumbai Cyber Police…

Click here to read the full story.

WordPress Rejects Mumbai Cyber Squad’s Frivolous Legal Request to Censor This Blog

— Mumbai cyber police are determined to scrub the Internet of homoerotic photos of Indian prime minister Narendra Modi

Last year, I blogged about bullying attempts by Mumbai’s cyber police squad to censor BuzzFeed re: this clearly doctored image of Indian prime minister Narendra Modi embracing his right-hand man Rajnath Singh on an idyllic beach.

source

Since then, I’ve noticed an almost daily volley of oddly specific incoming search terms on my blog, including: “modi fuck pics,” “modi sex,” and “india fuck modi.” Either someone really likes Narendra Modi, or Mumbai’s cyber police are spending all of their time scouring the Internet for reasons to be offended.

Today, it appears that mystery has been solved. Automattic, the company behind blogging platform WordPress, has rejected a frivolous legal request by the apparently easily offended cyber division to censor my earlier blog post. Written in a Trumpian ALL CAPS style, the three-page document states that the department was acting on a complaint it received from an unknown person, who objected to the allegedly “perverse” rendering of Modi and Singh.

“It is found that the suspects are posting such exclamatory and defamatory morphed/vulgar photos with the purpose to create UNREST, BREACHofPEACE which might result in LAW&ORDER problems in Maharashtra, India,” reads the nonsensical request, which was personally signed by Senior Inspector of Police, S.S.Sahasrabudhe.

From there, somehow it gets worse, with the department demanding that Automattic immediately furnish the mobile phone numbers, login details, e-mail and IP addresses of publishers of the offending content. The demand is listed as a “TOP PRIORITY BASIS so as to avoid Law and Order problems in Maharashtra and INDIA.”

An addendum to the document cites Section 91 of India’s Code of Criminal Procedure, which broadly permits “any officer in charge of a police station” to request “any document or other thing” from “the person in whose possession…such document or thing is believed to be.”

In an e-mail, a representative for Automattic dismissed the request.

“As the request does not comply with our requirements, we will not be taking any action against your site at this time,” the spokesperson said. “While we may preserve information about your account, we have not turned over any information. We will not turn over any information unless we receive a valid request for the information, or a court order. If we do receive such a request, unless we are legally prohibited from doing so, we will inform you and provide you time when you may attempt to quash or legally challenge the request.”

In addition to my blog, the cyber squad’s demand also targeted at least one other blog allegedly responsible for hosting objectionable content, which I will now share in the interests of full disclosure.