Role of Intermediaries in Countering Online Abuse: Still a Work In Progress, Part II

This is the second in a two-part series by Jyoti Panday of Centre for Internet and Society, Bangalore, on the role of intermediaries in addressing online abuse. The first part of this post is available here.

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The standards for blocking, reporting and responding to abuse vary across different categories of platforms. For example, it may be easier to counter trolls and abuse on blogs or forums where the owner or an administrator is monitoring comments and UGC. Usually platforms outline monitoring and reporting policies and procedures including recourse available to victims and action to be taken against violators. However, these measures are not always effective in curbing abuse as it is possible for users to create new accounts under different usernames. For example, in Swati’s case the anonymous user behind @LutyensInsider account changed their handle to @gregoryzackim and @gzackim before deleting all tweets. In this case, perhaps the fear of criminal charges ahead was enough to silence the anonymous user, which may not always be the case.

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Role of Intermediaries in Countering Online Abuse: Still a Work In Progress, Part I

The TechLawForum@NALSAR is happy to bring you a detailed two-part post by Jyoti Panday of Centre for Internet and Society, Bangalore, on the role played by Intermediaries in countering abuse on the internet. Jyoti is a graduate of Queen Mary’s University, London. Her work focuses on the interaction between intermediaries, user rights, and and freedom of expression. 

The Internet can be a hostile space and protecting users from abuse without curtailing freedom of expression requires a balancing act on the part of online intermediaries. As platforms and services coalesce around user-generated content (UGC) and entrench themselves in the digital publishing universe, they are increasingly taking on the duties and responsibilities of protecting  rights including taking reasonable measures to restrict unlawful speech. Arguments around the role of intermediaries tackling unlawful content usually center around the issue of regulation—when is it feasible to regulate speech and how best should this regulation be enforced?

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