Remove offending online content’



● “The Internet never sleeps and the Internet never forgets,” the Delhi High Court remarked while issuing a slew of directions to deal with the complications in removing offending content such as photographs and videos from pornographic websites.

HC’s observations

● Justice Anup Jairam Bhambhani said a court, when approached with such a grievance, should issue a direction to the website or online platform on which the offending content is hosted to remove such content forthwith, and in any event, within 24 hours of the receipt of the court order.

● A direction should also be issued to the website or online platform on which the offending content is hosted to preserve all information and associated records relating to the offending content at least for a period of 180 days for use in an investigation.

● The case stems from a petition by a woman who claimed that her photographs and images, though not in themselves obscene or offensive, were taken from her Facebook and Instagram accounts without her consent, and were uploaded on a pornographic website with derogatory captions added to them.

● The true enormity of this fact has dawned over the course of hearings conducted in the present matter, when it transpired that despite orders of this court, even the respondents [Internet service provider, search engines], who were willing to comply with directions issued to remove offending content from the World Wide Web, expressed their inability to fully and effectively remove it.

‘Errant parties’

● Errant parties merrily continued to repost and redirect such content from one website to another and from one online platform to another, thereby cocking a snook at directions issued against them in pending legal proceedings.

● During the hearing, Google had stated that it had no opposition in removing access to the offending content as may be directed by the court.

Govt frames new rules to hold social media, OTT accountable for content |  Technology News,The Indian Express

● Facebook, which also owns the social media platform Instagram, submitted that it had a robust privacy policy.

● It pointed out that though it was the woman’s allegation that her photographs and images had been taken from her Facebook/Instagram social media accounts, she did not claim any relief against Facebook/Instagram.

● The woman claimed that she had already filed a complaint on the National Cyber Crime Reporting 

Portal as well as to the jurisdictional police, but to no avail. 

● She claimed that the photographs had received some 15,000 views within a week of being posted.

● Noting that a solution to the problem needed to be crafted so that legal proceedings of the nature faced by 

the court did not turn futile, Justice Bhambhani said for an order directing the removal or access disablement of offending content to be effective even within India, a search engine had to block the search results throughout the world


Govt. to monitor OTT content

● For the first time, the government, under the ambit of the Information Technology (Intermediary 

Guidelines and Digital Media Ethics Code) Rules 2021, has brought in detailed guidelines for digital 

content on both digital media and Over The Top (OTT) platforms

● While all the rules have been framed and notified under the existing Information Technology (IT) Act, the administrative powers for regulation of OTT and digital news sharing platforms shall be under the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting (I&B).

Three-tier grievance redressal mechanism

First level- OTT provider: Here, the grievance redressal system will be at the level of each OTT provider. Each complaint will have to be addressed within 15 days.

Second level- a self-regulatory body: If the complaint is not satisfactorily addressed, then the 

complainant can scale it up to a self-regulatory body collectively established by the OTTs.

● Composition: This body will be headed by a retired judge of the Supreme Court, a High Court, or an independent eminent person from the field of media, broadcasting, entertainment, child rights, human rights or other relevant fields.

● Powers: This self-regulatory body also has “censuring” powers in case of any incriminating content.

● At the third tier, the government has equipped itself with overriding powers in the form of “oversight mechanism”. An inter-ministerial committee will perform this function and it will largely have the same powers as the collective self-regulatory body of the OTTs.


● The new guidelines place more onus on nearly all such companies which provide a platform to host, share, view or modify content, while also including for the first time, entities which are in the business of either creating or distributing news online under the ambit of an online intermediary.

Issues Involved in Regulation of Online Content

● Role of Enabler: Big Tech firms send tremendous value to small publishers or self-financed entrepreneurs.

● Compelled Speech-Not Free Speech: In an effort, controlling these platforms, the international human rights standards for freedom of expression and opinion is sometimes compromised

  • According to recent guidelines for social media platform in India, if any post threatens “the unity, integrity, defense, security or sovereignty of India, friendly relations with foreign states, or public order, or causes incitement to the commission of any cognizable offense or prevents investigation of any offense or is insulting any foreign States” can be put down.

 However, such terms are broad and it may give rise to the Government interfering with the fundamental rights of freedom of speech and expression.

● Voice of Voiceless: It’s important to point out that it’s only because of social media the issues like 

#BlackLivesMatter, #LivingWhileBlack, and #MeToo entered public discourse. Thus, regulating Big Tech may suppress the voice of the vulnerable sections of society.

● Self-Regulation: Big Tech proponents contend that the companies are getting smarter about the risks of allowing offensive content on their systems and will inevitably find it in their self-interest to pre-emptively remove such content.



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