The roots of Internet intermediary liability law of India can be traced back to the Information Technology Act, 2000 (IT Act 2000). It is primarily incorporated in Section 79 of the IT Act 2000 read with corresponding rules. However, due to industrial lobbying and inadequate governmental representation before the Supreme Court of India, the Internet intermediary liability has been curtailed to a great extend in the most undesirable manner by none other than the Supreme Court of India. Indian government is equally to blame as it failed to remedy the adverse situation created by Indian Supreme Court.
Now issues pertaining to Internet intermediary liability have been raised by media and industrial lobbies once again. As usual, these issues have been portrayed as troubles that Internet intermediaries and foreign companies would faced with the passage of Goods and Services Tax (GST) Act 2016. Many political parties could also be responsible for raising such voices in a distorted and improper manner so that the GST law cannot be passed in India.
Indian government should not be diverted by these empty and false concerns that are meant to sabotage the GST law and Digital India project. For an effective implementation of Digital India, we need a strong cyber law with effective implementation of its provisions. Internet intermediary liability and adherence to cyber law due diligence (pdf) are absolutely essential to safeguard India’s interests.
Similar undesirable provisions have been introduced in the Copyright Act of India that aim to discourage Copyright holders from agitating before Internet intermediaries when their copyrighted contents and works are stolen. We at Perry4Law Organisation (P4LO) strongly recommend that both IT Act 2000 and the Copyright Act 1957 must be suitably amended immediately to eliminate these lacuna that are detrimental to interests of Indian stakeholders.
For some strange reasons, India preferred to overload Indian courts that are already overburdened. If for every reason, a person has to go to a court and obtain a court order, it would defeat the national litigation policy of India that is advocating reduced governmental and non-governmental litigations before the courts. In United States issues like these are always dealt with outside the court where the aggrieved party sends a notice to the Internet intermediary and the intermediary is required to remove the objectionable contents immediately. There is no reason why such an arrangement cannot be used in India.
It is of paramount importance that Indian government must make the Internet intermediary liability more stringent rather than making it impotent. An inaction on the part of Indian government could cost loss of lives and property as has already happened in the past.
In one unfortunate case, a victim’s morphed picture was posted on Facebook and police did little to get it removed. The victim could not directly approach the Facebook as Supreme Court has ridiculously read down Section 79 making it impotent. She ultimately committed suicide and this is the net consequence of a bad decision on the part of Indian Supreme Court and inaction on the part of Indian government to bring suitable provisions in the IT Act 2000. We hope such incidence would not be repeated in future and Indian government would urgently do something in this regard.