Safe Harbour Protection – UPSC Prelims

What is “Safe Harbour” Protection under Section 79  of IT Act?
  • Section 79 of the Information Technology (IT) Act provides for the Safe Harbour protection to social media giants.
  • It says that any intermediary shall not be held legally or otherwise liable for any third-party information, data, or communication link made available on its platform.
  • However, the intermediary should not involve any way in initiating the transmission of the message in question, select the receiver of the transmitted message, and do not modify any information of the transmission.
  • This means that as long as a platform acts just as the messenger carrying a message from point A to point B, it will be safe from any legal prosecution due to the transmission of a message. However, it should be without any interference with its content in any manner.
  • Why in News? Twitter has failed to comply with IT Rules, 2021 and hence Safe Harbour protection under Section 79 of IT Act is withdrawn for Twitter.
How the removal of Safe Harbour Protection impacts Twitter?
  • It opens up the possibility of any type of legal action against Twitter which was not possible before, as a publisher of content.
  • This means that Twitter will be accountable if someone’s content on Twitter leads to some form of violence or violates any Indian law.
  • Then not only the person that has put out the tweet but also Twitter will be legally liable for the content as it no longer has the protection.
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