Centre to reconsider ‘safe harbour’ clause in IT law

Source: The post is based on the article “‘Centre to reconsider ‘safe harbour’ clause in IT law” published in The Hindu on 10th March 2023.

What is the News?

The Government of India has presented the formal outline of the Digital India Act, 2023 where the government is planning to review the “Safe harbour” provision for internet intermediaries.

This bill is a proposed successor to the decades-old Information Technology Act, of 2000.

What is Safe Harbour?

Safe harbour is prescribed under Section 79 of the IT Act,2000.

It is a legal immunity that online intermediaries enjoy against content posted by users on their platforms. This is available as long as these platforms abide by certain due diligence requirements, such as censoring content when asked by the government or courts

This concept originally came from Section 230 of the United States’ Communications Decency Act, which has been termed one of the “foundational laws behind the modern Internet”.

Safe harbour has been reined in recent years by regulations such as the Information Technology Rules, 2021 which require platforms to take down posts when ordered to do so by the government or when required by law.

Why is the government reviewing the concept of Safe Harbour?

The idea behind revisiting the concept of the safe harbour has stemmed from the fact that in the two decades since the Information Technology Act was formulated, intermediaries have become more complex.

Owing to this complexity, there is a need to classify different types of intermediaries and form relevant regulations for each of them.

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