Internet giants Google, Yahoo and Microsoft will block search terms for sex-determination kits in India following an order by its Supreme Court.
The US technology firms will now block 22 words related to sex-discrimination kits – used for identifying unborn girls for abortion – having initially claimed it would be too difficult. They were first ordered to do so back in July.
Google says it has now disabled its auto-complete feature for search terms, and will display a warning that pre-natal sex screening is illegal in India.
In his remarks in July, the Supreme Court judge called the adverts a “social evil” and told the firms that if they weren’t able to comply with the law they should “get out of the market”.
India has one of the worst gender imbalances in the world, with 943 females born for every 1,000 males.
Sex-selective abortion and sex-determination kits have been illegal in India since 1994 but unborn girls are still killed in areas where sons are preferred.
Last year, two doctors in the UK appeared in court after they were filmed agreeing to arrange gender-based abortions.
Dr Prabha Sivaraman and Dr Palaniappan Rajmohan were exposed by an investigation by The Telegraph, but the Crown Prosecution Service blocked the attempt to prosecute them.
In the UK, sex-selective abortion is illegal, but in 2015 Conservative MP Fiona Bruce tabled an amendment to the Serious Crime Bill to make the law clearer.
The amendment was defeated in the House of Commons as MPs voted against it by 292 votes to 201.
In 2008, The Christian Institute issued legal proceedings against Google after the search giant blocked a pro-life advert about abortion because it is a ‘religious’ organisation.
The case was settled before it got to court, with Google changing its policy worldwide. Christian groups are now able to place factual adverts about abortion with Google.