The internet and its intermediaries such as social media platforms, search engines and blogs have a major role in enabling freedom of expression and sharing of information. They are used by people around the world to connect, mobilise, and even to spread propaganda. The reach and influence of these platforms make them vastly powerful in our digital age. This raises a question: should they be held accountable for the content that’s shared on their platforms? And what responsibilities and protections come with hosting Indian user content on these platforms?
Last year, the Indian government introduced the Intermediary Guidelines Amendment Rules, 2018, which addressed this question. In October this year, the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology informed the Supreme Court that the guidelines would be finalised by January 15, 2020. There’s thus an urgent need to escalate public discourse on intermediary liability in India. With this in mind, we present our Digital Policy Series, in collaboration with The Dialogue.
In this first episode, we explain what intermediary liability is and how it can impact freedom of speech, privacy, and online behaviour.