Google says the IT rules for social media can’t be implied on it
Google has moved to Delhi High Court against the judgement by single bench that wrongly characterizes it as a “significant social media intermediary” under new IT Rules 2021. Google Inc has contended that additional diligence can’t be extended to it as it is a search engine. The bench of Chief Justice D N Patel and Justice Jyoti Singh have issued a notice to Center, Internet Service Providers Association of India and Delhi Police after appeal filed by the company. The case is listed for hearing on July 25.
On April 20, a single bench of HC had ordered search engines Google, Bing and Yahoo to identify and disable global access to any offending content by rendering it “non-searchable” on their platforms. This was in relation to recent case when a woman’s photos were downloaded from Facebook and Instagram without her consent and uploaded on a pornographic website.
Google has contended Rule 4 of new IT rules and said it cannot be extended to it. Google said that its function is to “crawl and index existing information” which is available and published by third party websites. It added that this is done in an automated manner with “no human intervention or inter se user interaction”. But Google has agreed that certain new IT Rules would be applicable on it as it is an “intermediary”.
The petition reads, “Ld. Single Judge failed to note that Rule 4 is aptly titled “Additional due diligence to be observed by significant social media intermediary”. The said provision being clear and unambiguous in its applicability to only a particular kind of intermediary, there was no occasion to expand its applicability to other kinds of intermediaries.”
Google has further argued in its petition, “The impugned direction is impossible for a search engine to comply with given its automated and passive functioning. It also violates the settled principle that no proactive monitoring can be directed as it has a chilling effect on free speech and may result in over-blocking of even content that is otherwise legitimate.”