SC: No defamation protection for intermediaries

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The Supreme Court, in Google India Pvt Ltd v Vishakha Industries and Anr, clarified that intermediaries cannot claim protection from defamation under section 79 of the Information Technology Act, 2000 (IT Act).

Asbestos manufacture Vishakha Industries in 2009 had filed a criminal defamation case against an individual publishing articles in a group under the name “Ban Asbestos”. As Google was hosting the group on its Google Group services, it was made a party to the defamation case.

Vishakha Industries alleged that Google failed to take down the defamatory articles after multiple requests by the company. Google approached the High Court of Andhra Pradesh to quash the complaint against it, claiming as it was an intermediary under section 79 of the IT act, it was not liable for publications made in the group.

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The dispute digest is compiled by Bhasin & Co, a corporate law firm based in New Delhi. The authors can be contacted at lbhasin@gmail.com. Readers should not act on the basis of this information without seeking professional legal advice.