New Indian Cyber Laws Can Be A Threat To Web Content Providers

The IT scene in India is about to take a steep turn in the coming days.

The new Cyber laws issued by the Information technology department of Indian Government (PDF) imposes a lot of restrictions on citizens and content providers which includes companies, institutions, cyber café owners and anyone who is servingobjectionable content to Indian people in one form or the other.

For example: One of the acts states that no organization or an intermediary can servecontent that is harmful, obscene, pornographic, hateful, defamatory, encourages money laundering or gambling, not suitable for minors or otherwise unlawful in any manner. [Ref: sec 3(b) III ]

And as before, Google and other tech companies are not very happy regarding the new IT rules of India.


This is because the new rules require websites to remove objectionable content which might be harmful to minors. Content includes text, images as well as videos and the websites who act as an intermediary between the website and the content also fall under the same umbrella.

So if a site has a pornographic image and an Indian citizen is viewing it on Google Images, both the source website and Google Images are to be blamed. Internet service providers or website owners have to bring some bars on the type of objectionable content via a terms of service act with their users.

If barring the content is not possible (consider the huge collection of blogs, YouTube videos and images), the source websites have to remove the objectionable content within 36 hours when the corresponding authorities notify the company administration.

The option of content barringis a huge task for social networking sites and search engines like Google, Yahoo etc. This is because search engines do not generate the content themselves and they have no control over the type of content that is shared via blogs, social sites, YouTube etc. Almost anyone can post an objectionable image on free blogging platforms and post a link of the image on social sites like Facebook, Twitter etc.

The government officials are already in action. As an example, here is a list of websites that are blocked by order of the Indian Government. The data was received from the department of Information technology in response to the RTI (right to information) act. One of the offending websites is a Facebook fan page about B.R Ambedkar, which we reported a few months back.

India is already one of the booming market for Internet companies. There are already more than 700 million cellphone users in India (and counting) so the number of web savvy users is on the rise. Google among other tech companies are worried whether the new Indian I.T rules will go narrow in coming months or whether there would be strict guidelines on the natureof content which is considered safe for Indian audience as reported at WSJ.

Published by

Amit Banerjee

Amit has been writing for Techie Buzz since early 2009 and keeps a close eye on web apps, Google and all things Tech. He also writes at his own tech blog, Ampercent. Follow him on Twitter @ amit_banerjee