Tech giant Google has sought an exemption from the new IT rules of 2021, which is applicable for social media intermediaries. Contending that it is not a social media intermediary, the company, in its plea at Delhi High Court, said the rules for digital media are not applicable to its search engine. The company urged the Court to set aside a single judge order which applied the rules on the company while dealing with an issue related to removal of offending content from the Internet.
Google told the court that it is “merely an aggregator” and that the IT Rules 2021 define social media intermediaries as platforms that enable online interaction or allow for the creation and uploading of content. “Google is an intermediary, not a social media intermediary. No coercive action should be taken against Google for non-compliance,” it said.
Meanwhile, the bench of Chief Justice D N Patel and Justice Jyoti Singh has issued notice to the Centre, Delhi government, Internet Service Providers Association of India, Facebook, the pornographic site, and the woman, on whose plea the single judge’s ruling had come, and sought their responses to Google’s plea by July 25.
Earlier in April, a single-judge bench of the Delhi High Court had termed Google as a social media intermediary. “Google is an intermediary, not a social media intermediary. No coercive action should be taken against Google for non-compliance,” it said. Tech giants are scrambling to comply with the Indian government’s new rules for social media use, even as delay in implementing them has threatened to get the platforms banned in India.
On February 25, the Centre had introduced new rules regarding the use of social media and the regulation of streaming services, in an attempt to crack down on misinformation and have oversight over social media platforms, their practices, and what content over-the-top (OTT) platforms can publish, and for whom.