This post is part of our ‘Shielding the Messengers’ series, which examines issues related to intermediary liability protections, both in the U.S. and globally. Without these protections, the Internet as we know it today–a platform where diverse content and free expression thrive–would simply not exist.
Facebook, Google, and seven other companies are standing trial in India on criminal charges that they didn’t censor material created by their users and are therefore liable for that content.
At the heart of this case are critical questions: Will the Indian laws that were designed to protect the companies that host user-generated content on the Internet be respected by the courts and government? If not, how can an Internet rich in diverse content and free expression survive in India? How will home-grown innovation in new kinds of social media and interactive services thrive?
In short, not only are Google and Facebook on trial in India, the Internet – and the laws that govern it – are as well.
Background: Internet Intermediaries Under Indian Law
To understand the current case, it’s necessary to look back to 2000, when India passed its first Internet-era legislation, the Information Technology Act, creating broad liability for intermediaries that host user content.
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