The Supreme Court (SC) has issued a notice to the Centre seeking response on a plea filed by MouthShut.com (India) Pvt. Ltd. that challenges certain provisions of the Information and Technology Act. The petitioner pleaded with the apex court to review the rule that makes it mandatory for a website owner to monitor content and censor the contents posted on the portal.
"It is submitted that the impugned Rules impose significant burden on it forcing it to screen content and exercise online censorship which in turn impacts the freedom of speech and expression of its customers thereby risking a loss of its large consumer base or incurring legal costs and facing criminal action for third party user-generated content," the petitioner said.
According to the petitioner, it's impossible to monitor all the content on the site, considering it's visited by 80 lakh visitors every month, and it cannot be held responsible for the 'legality or applicability of anything said or written by any member'.
"Any opinion expressed by a member are those of a member alone and are not to be attributed to MouthShut.com," it said adding "There is an automated algorithm which checks the content for expletives but its accuracy and completeness cannot be trusted".
"It is submitted that its official policy is to only remove content if ordered by a court of competent jurisdiction or on a written request signed by a competent authority of the government in view of any unlawful content," it said.
It's notable that under section 79, website owners are responsible for any objectionable or obscene content posted on their sites.