Applauding the Supreme Court's quashing of Section 66A of the Information Technology Act, 2000 on Tuesday, stakeholders among the internet and mobile community termed it as a "momentous victory" for the 302 million internet users in India.
"This landmark judgment strengthens the safe harbour provisions for intermediaries contained in Section 79 of the IT Act. It is specially helpful to smaller companies like Mouthshut.com who will now not be harassed by the frivolous and mal-intentioned notices of the take down," Subho Ray, president, Internet & Mobile Association of India (IAMAI) said in a statement.
The IAMAI has over 135 members with companies like Google, Facebook, Twitter and Amazon, among others.
"Section 66A of the IT Act is struck down in its entirety," said the apex court bench of Justice J. Chelameswar and Justice Rohinton Fali Nariman.
"Our Constitution provides for liberty of thought, expression and belief. In a democracy, these values have to be provided within constitutional scheme. The law (Section 66A) is vague in its entirety," said Justice Nariman while pronouncing the judgment.
The Supreme Court has "read down" section 79(3)(b) of the IT Act which states "upon receiving actual knowledge, or on being notified by the appropriate government or its agency that any information, data or communication link residing in or connected to a computer resource controlled by the intermediary is being used to commit the unlawful act, the intermediary fails to expeditiously remove or disable access to that material on that resource without vitiating the evidence in any manner".
"Both the judgment together will ensure internet freedom for users and freedom of doing business on part of intermediaries; thereby ensuring more innovation and investments in the Indian internet sector," Ray said.
The association said it believes this judgment will herald a new phase in the growth and evolution of the internet in India.
"Internet users will be able to use online services without fear of illegal censorship or harassment, and online businesses, ranging from established international companies to small Indian start-ups, will be able to take advantage of a more conducive business environment," it said.
"The association looks forward to working with our members, internet users, and the government towards realising the internet's full potential for development in India," it added.