Authorities Use Google to Track and Arrest Indian Suspect

By May 19, 2008

Indian police used information from Google to track down a suspect and make an arrest in an investigation dating back to December 2007, demonstrating a growing trend to use the Internet to fight crime.   On Friday, May 16, 2008, I

ndian police arrested Rahul Vaid, a 22 year-old IT professional from Gurgaon city, Harayana.   The case involves obscene comments made about India’s Congress chief Sonia Gandhi on an Orkut community site named “I Hate Sonia Gandhi.” The community contained derogatory comments about Gandhi and circulated messages through emails.   The primary email address was registered through Gmail, the email service hosted by Google. In December 2007, India police contacted Google concerning the identity of the email account’s owner.   Vaid was arrested on Friday in his home and flown to Pune where he was arraigned on Saturday under charges of violating section 292 of the Indian Penal Code and section 67 of the Information Technology Act. If proven guilty, Vaid could face up to five years in prison and a fine of Rs. 100,000 (about $2,346).   Vaid’s case is the most recent example of international authorities using the Internet to track down and build cases against criminals.   In February of 2008, the Moroccan government arrested Fouad Moutada and convicted him of creating a fake Facebook profile of Prince Moulay Rachid. The Moroccan government found the impersonation of King Mohammed VI’s younger brother as a contestation of the royal family, though a pardon by the King later freed Moutada.   Last year the Chinese government used Yahoo to track down a journalist who criticized the strict communist government.   Vaid’s case is the newest example of the World Wide Web being used to enforce laws within a country, fueling the debate over a country’s jurisdiction over the Internet.   By Danny Scuderi   FEEDBACK For comments on this article, email us at

Legal mentions © L’Atelier BNP Paribas