If you search for the word “sex” on Bing from a computer in India, you won’t get any results. You can of course bypass this block by switching to the US version of Bing but by default, Bing in India doesn’t return pages for search queries that don’t pass the “Safe Search” criteria.

Yahoo India has taken a similar step. They have permanently enabled Safe Search for all users in India (based on the IP addresses) but, unlike Bing, you cannot turn off the Safe Search filter in Yahoo! by switching to their US edition.

Google India on the other hand has no such restrictions in place and users in India can enable or disable “safe search” in Google at will by using a simple drop-down.

So why are search engines doing this? Maybe to minimize legal risks.

Supreme Court lawyer Pawan Duggal earlier told Content Sutra that web companies are filtering out adult content from search results in India in order to comply with the Information Technology Act that says:

“Whoever publishes or transmits or causes to be published in the electronic form, any material which is lascivious or appeals to the prurient interest.. shall be punished on first conviction with imprisonment for a term which may extend to five years and with fine which may extend to one lakh rupees.”

We can’t therefore put the blame on search engines here but these stone-age IT laws of India seriously need some fixing.