Saturday, February 4, 2012

Internet Intermediary Liability In India

Information Technology Act 2000 (IT Act 2000) is the sole cyber law of India. IT Act 2000 is also regulating the functioning of Internet intermediaries in India. Internet intermediaries’ law and liability in India has become very stringent after the passing of the Information Technology (Intermediaries Guidelines) Rules, 2011 of India.

These Internet intermediaries liability Rules of India demarcates the rights and responsibilities of internet intermediaries in India. If the Internet intermediaries follow these Rules and exercise proper cyber due diligence, they are entitled to a “safe harbour protection”. Otherwise, they are liable for various acts or omission occurring at their respective platforms once the matter has been brought to their notice.

Social media due diligence in India has also emerged out of IT Act 2000 and the corresponding Rules. Now legal actions against foreign websites can be taken in India. Further, cyber litigations against such foreign websites would increase in India in the near future.

Privacy violations and data breach investigations would also be required to be undertaken by these companies in India. Data protection requirements would also add further obligations upon these companies and websites in India. It is of utmost importance for these foreign companies and websites to follow Indian laws in true letter and spirit.

The cyber laws due diligence requirements for companies in India are strenuous in nature and Internet intermediaries in India need to take care of the same to avoid legal troubles. Companies like Google, Facebook, etc must appoint nodal officers in India that can be served with notices and communication pertaining to Internet intermediary obligations in India.

Cyber law due diligence in India is also required to escape liability for online violations of intellectual property rights in India. Liability of Internet intermediaries for copyright violation in India is well known and even foreign companies recognise this fact. The Online Copyright Infringement Liability Limitation Act (OCILLA) of United States has been enacted as part of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) 1998. Foreign companies like Google, Facebook, etc are complying with the DMCA requirements while taking down intellectual property violating contents.

However, these foreign companies and websites are still not aware of the requirements of India laws. Further, even if they are aware, they are not complying with the same in the appropriate manner. Time has come for these foreign companies to take Indian laws, especially intellectual property and cyber law, more seriously.