India Needs Better Safeguards for Online Intermediaries: Report

A report by Global Network Initiative said: If the safe harbour regime for online intermediaries’ liability is not improved, it could lead to a potential loss of $41 bn to the GDP.

If existing safe harbor regime for online intermediaries in India is improved, they can contribute to nearly $41 bn to the GDP by 2015, says a new report.

The current legal regime in India results in higher costs to run an intermediary business in India. If the safe harbour regime for online intermediaries’ liability is not improved, it could lead to a potential loss of $41 bn to the GDP, the report by Global Network Initiative said.

Closing the gap

Currently, Intermediaries in India have a conditional safe harbor under the IT act. The act sets the following procedures for Intermediaries

1. They need to inform computer users not to transmit information that is harmful, obscene or defamatory.

2. Act within 36 hours of being intimated about prohibited information.

3. Disable information that is contradictory to the Intermediary Law.

The act has been criticized for being fuzzy on the kind of content that needs to be taken down and lack of clarity on what specific action needs to be taken. The terms “harmful, obscene or defamatory,” are subjective in nature.

The report covers various Internet related cases in India and how Intermediaries have to employ large teams to ensure compliance. Read the full report here (pdf).

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