This position paper looks at the issue of intermediary filtering in the context of two Supreme Court cases. The first was a petition filed by activist Sabu Matthew George in 2008, asking for a ban on advertisements on search engines related to pre-natal sex determination. The second case was a suo-moto PIL taken up by the Court in 2015, in response to women’s rights activist Sunitha Krishnan’s letter on the circulation of rape videos on social media sites. Our paper analyses these cases, alongside the arguments related to freedom of speech and the act of intermediary filtering of content, and argues for a more nuanced intermediary liability framework, which acknowledges that all content cannot be treated equally.
The paper was published as part of ‘Online freedom for all = No unfreedom for women’, a project that intends to trigger national-level policy dialogues on balancing the right to free speech online with women’s right to freedom from technology-mediated violence, in India and Bangladesh. The project, launched in January 2017, seeks to address key gaps in existing legal institutional frameworks on technology-mediated violence against women in the two countries. The project was initiated by IT for Change and the Women’s Rights Online network of the WWW Foundation.