Online Intermediaries in India
NOC Online Intermediaries Case Studies Series
37 Pages Posted: 19 Feb 2015
Date Written: February 18, 2015
This case study maps and analyzes online intermediary liability in India. It begins with the landscape of online intermediaries in India, highlighting intermediaries of special interest. This includes, for instance, platforms used to arrange marriages, which are much more popular in India than dating platforms because of Indian social norms. The second section of the paper attempts to map in detail the governance mechanisms applicable to online intermediaries in India – this includes the licensing system used for internet service providers, the Information Technology Act, and the Copyright Act. The likelihood of generally applicable criminal law in India (such as the Indian Penal Code) as a potential source of intermediary liability is also discussed briefly. The final part of the paper assesses the impact of the governance framework, ties together its different themes of content blocking, interception of data, and notice and takedown of content. It analyzes the law under which these activities take place, from the perspective of good governance principles such as transparency and accountability. It also considers whether the governance framework for online intermediaries treats online speech in a manner that is consistent with the Indian constitution. The serious flaws in the systems followed in India are apparent through this assessment – the lack of transparency and accountability suggest that over-regulation of constitutionally protected speech is likely to result in very little protection of primary speakers’ rights.
Keywords: intermediary liability, IT Act, Freedom of Expression, Privacy, Online Intermediaries
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