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It is unfair to hold intermediaries responsible for third-party content: Kapil Sibal

The Government of India, in April 2011, had ruled internet
companies to remove objectionable content from their sites, including anything
“grossly harmful” or “harassing,” within 36 hours of being
notified by authorities.

The Government of India, in April 2011, had ruled internet
companies to remove objectionable content from their sites, including anything
“grossly harmful” or “harassing,” within 36 hours of being
notified by authorities.

Commenting on this, Union Telecom Minister Kapil Sibal said that
it is fair for the Government to ask internet companies to put in place codes
of conduct that restrain users from posting certain material online, as the
regulations do. But he said it is ‘relatively unfair’ to expect internet
companies—which are referred to in the rules as “intermediaries”—to
be responsible for third-party content. “To make the intermediary liable
for the user violating that code would, I think, not serve the larger interests
of the market,” Sibal said.

Sibal further said that the ministry officials are trying to
apply minds and see if the regime can be made more rational. Sibal, who wasn’t
the telecom minister when the act was passed, is trying various efforts to
boost web usage. He plans to bring 500,000 villages online within a few years
by laying a massive fiber-optic backbone and using wireless devices to let Web
traffic travel the “last mile” to rural households.

He said the government has to be careful not to
get in the way of internet companies trying to build up the market. “We
need to ensure that we don’t put conditions which are adverse to the efficient
functioning of the intermediaries but the internet companies must “take
into account the sensitivities of the countries in which they’re operating,”
Sibal added.

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