SC: Google Required to Remove Defamatory Content After Court Order

Author: thinkinglegal | February 5, 2020 - 13:14 | Tags: Data Protection

Supreme Court of India in its judgment dated 10 December, 2019 issued landmark findings in respect of intermediaries’ liability in cases of hosting alleged defamatory content.

Visaka Industries filed a defamation complaint against Ban Asbestos India for publication of an article titled “Visaka Asbestos Industries making gains”. The article was published on the Google platform on 31 July, 2008. Google India Private Limited was summoned as a party in the case for hosting the content. Google challenged this order in the Andhra Pradesh High Court seeking protection under section 79 of the Information Technology Act, 2002 (“IT Act”).

The High Court found that Google “did not move its little finger to stop dissemination of the unlawful and objectionable material.” The Supreme Court set aside the findings of the High Court to the extent of the lack of action on part of Google India. The SC further reasoned that Google India is only required to remove defamatory on being issued a court order and not mere notices issued by the complainant. It was observed that an internet service operator should be required to takedown third-party information not on mere knowledge of objection to its continuance but after there has been an impartial adjudication as it were by a court.

This post has been contributed by Ms. Vaneesa Agrawal and Ms. Sanyukta Srivastav.

[DISCLAIMER:  This article is for academic purpose and is solely to provide readers with general information regarding developments in Indian law. The information contained herein does not constitute legal or a professional advice.]