With the MeitY looking to overhaul the existing Intermediary Liability regime, let's look at what an intermediary is, where it comes from, and how content regulation will impact #FoS & #privacy.

Thread by @arpithadesai who volunteers at IFF to #ELI5 this complex issue! 1/11
@arpithadesai Who is an intermediary?

An intermediary is anyone who receives, stores or transmits an electronic record on behalf of someone. Includes your telecom provider, social media websites, e-commerce sites & search engines. Big, small and tiny.

[Nope, not the colony gossiper] 2/11
@arpithadesai Under the IT Act, 2000, intermediaries enjoy what is called 'safe harbour' protection where the intermediary acts a facilitator and does not play any part in creation/modification of the information.

But, why? Because they facilitate free speech of end users. 3/11
@arpithadesai Intermediaries enjoy this immunity only if they follow the Intermediary Guidelines, 2011 which are the detailed rules. After the Shreya Singhal judgement in March, 2015 they have to act on any government request or court order and take down content or risk liability. 4/11
@arpithadesai The Government is looking to change the Intermediary Guidelines Rules, 2011.

Yes, they may need changes, but what’s a sound policy approach to them? Well we have the Manila principles! manilaprinciples.org 5/11
@arpithadesai What are these principles?

1. Intermediaries should be shielded from liability for third-party content. Intermediaries should not be strictly liable for unlawful third-party content which it has not created/modified. They must never be required to monitor content. 6/11
@arpithadesai 2. Content must not be required to be restricted without an order by a judicial authority (India specific — or a government agency). Remember Shreya Singhal v. Union of India? Read more here. indiankanoon.org/doc/110813550/ #ManilaPrinciples 7/11
@arpithadesai 3. Requests for content restriction must be clear, unambiguous & follow due process. A request should have legal basis, evidence & reasons why the content is unlawful. Requests should not be abusive or in bad faith. #ManilaPrinciples #ITRules 8/11
@arpithadesai 4. Laws & content restriction orders must comply with necessity + proportionality. Should be limited to the specific content at issue & the least restrictive means must be adopted.

Read more about these tests in the privacy judgment. 9/11

@arpithadesai 5. Laws and content restriction policies must respect due process. Intermediary & content provider must be given the right to be heard, to appeal & review its own content. Intermediaries & govts should respect human rights. #ManilaPrinciples #ITRules

@arpithadesai 6. Transparency & accountability. Govts must publish all laws, info & reports, should not use extra-judicial ways to block content. Intermediaries should publish their content restriction policies online. Civil society should develop impartial oversight mechanisms.


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