PROS OF INTERMEDIARY LIABILITY IN INDIA: THE TIKTOK BAN

TikTok, a Chinese application found in 2012 with the purpose of video-sharing social 

networking service where short dance, comedy videos, lip sync videos, and talent videos are 

posted by the users. Being a populous country, our youth is attracted to this application. More 

than 119 Million people used TikTok in India, the application was downloaded 277.6 million 

times in India in the year of 2019.2 However, the application was banned in India in late June 

2020, when the government banned 59 other Chinese applications including TikTok, which 

have bought several inconsistencies and issues regarding the intermediary liability regime. 

There are many types of internet intermediaries which are divided into two categories- 

“Conduits” and “hosts”. Conduits do not interfere in the content which the app provides, they 

work for the automatic, transient or intermediate and storage for transmission. While hosts 

provide the content services. 

As defined under section 2(1)(w) and Section 79 of the IT Act, 2000 TikTok is an intermediary. 

The content is not generated by the app but it is posted by its users. Intermediaries are defined 

according to the functions it does for the electronic records. As per section 2(w) intermediaries 

are defined as- “intermediary”, with respect to any particular electronic records, means any 

person who on behalf of another person receives, stores or transmits that record or provides 

any service with respect to that record and includes telecom service providers, network service 

providers, internet service providers, web-hosting service providers, search engines, online 

payment sites, online-auction sites, online-market places, and cyber cafes.3 While section 79 

of the IT act provides immunity to intermediaries for any illegal content posted by third parties. 

Under this section and the Information Technology 2011, if an intermediary receives ‘actual 

knowledge’ of any illegal content posted on it, it is obligated to remove such content within 36 

hours. On failing to do so, the intermediary will lose its immunity from being sued. Illegal 

content under 79 of the IT Act is stricter than 69A. It can include, for example, content that is 

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