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Gujarat High Court Issues Notice to Google Over Email Account Suspension for Childhood Photo

The Gujarat High Court has issued a notice to Google for suspending a man's email over a childhood photo deemed as "explicit child abuse." The case raises significant questions about digital rights and content moderation policies.

The Gujarat High Court has issued a notice to Google after a man's email account was blocked for uploading a nude photo of himself as a child on Google Drive. Google India Pvt Limited took action against the petitioner, Neel Shukla, a computer engineer, for what it deemed "explicit child abuse" content. The contentious photo showed Shukla being bathed by his grandmother at the age of two.

Justice Vaibhavi D Nanavati issued notices to Google, alongside the central and state governments, with a response expected by March 26. Shukla's account was suspended in April of the previous year after he uploaded childhood photos to Google Drive, including the disputed image.

Shukla's counsel, Dipen Desai, explained to the court that despite efforts to resolve the issue through Google's complaint system, the account remained inaccessible, severely affecting Shukla's business operations. With no action taken by the Gujarat police or the Department of Science and Technology, the petitioner sought the court's intervention, especially as Google threatened to delete his account data a year after its inactivity.

This legal battle comes amidst broader efforts by the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MeitY) to combat child sexual abuse material (CSAM) on social media platforms. In October of the previous year, MeitY issued notices to platforms including X (formerly Twitter), Telegram, and YouTube, demanding the removal of CSAM, with strict penalties for non-compliance.

The case highlights ongoing tensions between privacy, digital rights, and the enforcement of policies against child exploitation online, raising questions about the mechanisms platforms use to identify and act on potentially abusive content.