The recent decision in Shreya Singhal v Union of India by the
Indian Supreme Court striking down the much maligned Section 66A of
the Information Technology Act, 2000 (IT Act) is undoubtedly a
watershed judgment in Indian Constitutional jurisprudence.
The notorious Section 66A of the IT Act had criminalized the
posting of any information which was inter alia
'grossly offensive' , 'menacing', 'causes
annoyance', 'obstruction', 'insult',
'hatred'. While the true legislative intent underlying the
enactment of this provision was to target the menace caused by spam
and phishing activities on the internet, it drew the spotlight for
all the wrong reasons.
The notoriety of Section 66A had made headlines due to the
arrest of two young girls following the demise of Mr. Bal
Thackeray, long-time leader of the Shiv Sena, a strong regional
political party in Maharashtra. While one of the girls was
imprisoned for having posted a comment on Facebook regarding the
city wide lockdown called for by the Shiv Sena, the other
girl was arrested for 'liking' the comment.
The Supreme Court had clubbed a bunch of petitions moved by
persons aggrieved by the rampant abuse by the police and other
executive authorities, challenging Section 66A as being
unconstitutional. The Supreme Court once again reinforced its
position as the guardian of the Indian citizen's fundamental
rights when it struck down Section 66A as violating the right to
free speech and expression. While the Supreme Court came down
heavily on the constitutionality of Section 66A, it must not be
forgotten that what really prompted the challenge is an abuse of
Section 66A by the Government to curtail classical free speech.
A closer reading of the judgment however reveals that it could
have wider ramifications in a realm much beyond the traditional
free speech context. Amidst the various challenges that were posed
to the apex court as regards provisions contained in the IT Act, a
petition moved by the IAMAI (Internet & Mobile Association of
India) sought to have another provision in the IT Act struck down
as being unconstitutional. The petition challenged Section 79 of
the IT Act which grants an exemption to intermediaries from being
held liable for third party information which is hosted through
their platforms on the internet. As this article will discuss,
while ruling on the intermediary section, the Supreme Court
eviscerated well-established mechanisms for countering online
counterfeiting. This article argues that while the intent of the
Supreme Court was noble, it did not perhaps fully consider the
ramifications of its decision specifically in the context of
Section 79 of the IT Act and, as a result, on online
Interplay of technologies such as social media, cloud, analytics and mobility is changing the way marketing is done and the digitally savvy consumer is targeted using various mediums at any time of the day and everywhere.
The Court of Arbitration for Sports has finally given its arbitral award in the dispute between Ms. Maria Sharapova and the International Tennis Federation wherein Sharapova had challenged the 2 year ban.
Register for Access and our Free Biweekly Alert for
This service is completely free. Access 250,000 archived articles from 100+ countries and get a personalised email twice a week covering developments (and yes, our lawyers like to think you’ve read our Disclaimer).