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Our search engine is not a social media intermediary- Google before Delhi HC while seeking protection against IT Rules 2021

Google LLC sought for an interim protection against its declaration as a “social media intermediary” (SMI) under the new IT Rules before the Delhi High Court.

In the instant case, Google LLC preferred an appeal against the order of a single judge bench which had directed it to globally remove a content which was addressed as objectionable and offensive by the female petitioner. According to her, the content had been taken from her social media accounts (Facebook and Instagram) without her consent and posted on pornographic website.

The petitioner alleged that despite her privacy settings being activated, her photos had been taken from her accounts. Such an offence was violative of her privacy and was punishable under Section 67 of the IT Act.

The appellant had submitted that it had no issues against the directions of court in case of the petitioner, rather was aggrieved by the blanket template directions delivered by the bench under the shade of Information Technology (Intermediary Guidelines and Digital Ethics Code) Rules 2021.

According to the appeal, Google had been classified as a social media intermediary under the new IT Rules and was directed to remove a particular post and ones flagged like it globally within 24 hours.

The counsel submitted that the appellant sought for a protection against any coercive action upon its failure to take down particular posts as it is not an SMI. The counsel contended that being a search engine, it would not be covered under the definition of SMI under the IT Rules.

In furtherance to this, the counsel submitted that though the content may be offensive under the Indian Law, it might not be offensive in countries outside India, thus blanket order to remove the post could not be issued.

Lastly, the counsel submitted that due to such template directions, a bad precedent might be set. Had the petitioner approached the appellant, they would’ve dealt with the matter.

Based upon such blanket directions, the appellant had filed an appeal and sought for interim protection.

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