Intermediary liability in India – moving goalposts

By Vikram Jeet Singh and Prashant Mara, BTG Legal


The internet has revolutionized the way we interact; however, it has also brought with it a host of problems such as hate speech, terrorist recruitment, fake news, illegal lobbying, and personal data theft. A number of these issues involve the new gatekeepers of the internet, online social media platforms, and their regulation will be at the forefront of legal development in the near future.

Vikram Jeet Singh

The concept that an intermediary is only a neutral pipeline for information is no longer sacrosanct. Germany’s new social media law, Netzwerkdurchsetzungsgesetz, makes platforms liable for the content they carry. In India, the Supreme Court and the government have repeatedly called for the regulation of intermediaries. The Supreme Court has in the past made intermediaries responsible for actively monitoring content to ensure that they are compliant with child and women protection laws.

There are two questions in the context of growing calls for regulation in India:

  • Are we moving from a “did-not-know” standard to a “ought-to-have-known” standard, and to what extent is this practical?
  • Do we need a new hypothesis of intermediary liability, which is limited but varies with degrees of potential severity?

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BTG-Legal-lawyersVIKRAM JEET SINGH and PRASHANT MARA are partners at BTG Legal. They can be contacted at and