News By/Courtesy: Jeffy Johnson | 01 Apr 2020 18:13pm IST


  • Constitutionality of Section 66 A of IT Act
  • Section 79 of IT Act and it's importance
  • Relevance of Intermediaries

The Supreme Court five years ago landmark judgement in Shreya Singhal V Union of India. It is an analysis of the court's decision to strike down Section 66 A of the IT Act,2000. Then to recheck irregularities the constitutionality of the website and the application blocking. It also highlights the relevance of intermediary liability. In furtherance, the main objective is to look through the eyes of future internet regulation and governance in India. Section 79 of the IT Act gives exemptions for intermediaries which are subject to certain conditions. Intermediaries are defined under Section 2(1)(w) of the IT Act it is a wide term. This term encompasses various service providers and cyber cafes. The liability exemption for intermediaries is based on certain grounds. Firstly the intermediary should not initiate modifying information, transmission or selecting the receiver contained within the transmission. Secondly, it should host, store or disseminate third party content. Lastly, there should be due diligence to meet the needs of the IT Act. Section 79(3)(b) of the IT Act also states the same that is the liability exemptions for intermediaries do not apply in certain cases. Rule 3 of the Intermediary Guidelines, 2011 directs due diligence obligation on intermediaries. Section 79(3)(b) and Rule 3(4) of Intermediary Guidelines requires intermediaries to preserve illegal or unlawful information and data records related to the same for a minimum duration 90 days to aid in the investigation process. The Shreya Singhal decision about intermediary liability is highly debatable as well as questionable. The importance of this case on the Union Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology's proposed intermediary amendments is mainly two pointers first being informational privacy and secondly monitoring obligations as well as collateral censorship. The intermediary framework was meant in the circumstance of the prohibition of content and speech. Due to this the proposed need for finding out the originator of unlawful or illegal content will collide with the right to privacy and end-to-end encryption service of communication. It is outside the scheme and should be dealt under Section 69 of the IT Act which is about the decryption of computer resources. The proposed amendment puts on a compulsory obligation on intermediaries to build and deploy access of the public to unlawful content. There should be laws that mandate the intermediaries deploy content filter tools and algorithms to comply with it. Although such precautionary steps are taken there are multifaceted complexities associated with speech. A recent example is the A-1 based automated content monitoring systems malfunctioning over the censorship of the COVD 19 relates news posts. All this highlights the need for self-censorship obligations on intermediaries.

Section Editor: Pushpit Singh | 01 Apr 2020 21:40pm IST

Tags : Shreya Singhal's Judgemnet : Intermediaries

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