The Madras High Court on September 16 stayed a few more portions of the Information Technology (Intermediary Liability and Digital Media Ethics Code) Rules, 2021, a month after the Bombay High Court stayed significant parts of the Rules applicable to digital news organisations. The wording of the order constrains the government from taking action under Rule 3 and 7 that require social media platforms to take down content that violates norms (including a defamation clause that petitioners took specific issue with) and deprive intermediaries of protection from content posted by users in case of non-compliance. The ruling came in the following two petitions: TM Krishna v. Union of India, and Digital News Publishers Association v. Union of India. You can read our coverage of TM Krishna's petition here, coverage of the DNPA petition here, and our coverage of responses by the government here and here. The IT Rules are under severe stress from the judiciary, with nineteen separate cases in courts around the country. The government has filed a transfer petition at the Supreme Court to get these cases heard in one place. Although the government told the Madras High Court that it expects the top court to hear the case in October, the Chief Justice of the Chennai-based court Sanjib Banerjee agreed with petitioners that interim protections were required. While the present judgment is unlikely to stop large social media companies who are already complying with the IT Rules, from continuing to do so, it may be a useful signal…
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