In May 2013, the Law Commission of India had issued a Consultation Paper on Media law, where the Commission invited comments from stakeholders and the general public on laws pertaining to governance of Indian media. Though the Consultation Paper dealt primarily with issues such as cross media ownership, paid news, fake sting operations, trial by media and regulation ofgovernment owned media, the Commission also sought comments on the following questions related to social media, Section 66A of the IT Act and criminal defamation laws:
Social Media and Section 66A of the Information Technology Act, 2000:
- Should the existing law be amended to define what constitutes “objectionable content”?
- Should Section 66A of the IT Act be retained in its present form or should it be modified/ repealed?
- Is there a need for a regulatory authority with powers to ban/suspend coverage of objectionable material? If yes, should the regulatory authority be self-regulatory or should it have statutory powers?
- Should there be modifications in the law of civil and criminal defamation as it applies to journalists? If so, what should these modifications be?
The consultation paper can be accessed at www.lawcommissionofindia.nic.in/views/Consultation%20paper%20on%20media%20law.doc)
SFLC.in made a submission before the Law Commission in response to the above questions. SFLC.in also noted in the submission the problems with the current intermediary liability regime in India. SFLC.in’s submission is available here.