Towards Holistic Regulation of ‘Online Hate Speech’

18 Pages Posted: 8 Jun 2021

Date Written: February 1, 2021


India, as with other jurisdictions, has been struggling to deal with the issue of how to regulate hate speech in the online ecosystem. Regulatory responses have usually seen demands for either new criminal laws to be implemented or for intermediaries to ‘do more’ to make the online ecosystem safer. In this context, this paper provides an overview of regulatory interventions that have been proposed to deal with the issue of online hate speech in India, and argues that attempts to find a ‘silver bullet’ solution are unlikely to bear fruit. The focus on either creating new criminal offences or casting substantive policing obligations on intermediaries may lead to inequitable results and unintended consequences. These could negatively affect the very groups these interventions aim to protect. The issue of regulating online hate speech is complex. Therefore, we suggest that regulatory interventions must take into account the range of modalities available, including other legal alternatives and alternatives to 'law-based methods', that are explored in the paper; and focus on process improvements.

Keywords: intermediary, online, hate speech, content moderation, privacy, anonymity, intermediary liability, regulation, Twitter, criminalisation, India

JEL Classification: K1, K10, K41, Z18, L38

Suggested Citation

Bhandari, Vrinda and Bailey, Rishab, Towards Holistic Regulation of ‘Online Hate Speech’ (February 1, 2021). Available at SSRN: or

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