Delhi HC seeks Centre’s response on Amul defamatory content issue

New Delhi: The Delhi High Court on Friday sought a response from the Union government after Indian dairy brand Amul filed a plea against defamatory content. Amul, in its suit, asked for the deletion of online defamatory content from social media and YouTube.

Google LLC had told the Delhi HC that it cannot disclose the Basic Subscriber Information (BSI) of a YouTuber whose details are stored with Google Ireland.

The HC’s decision to seek a response on this issue from the Union government comes right after Google Ireland also refused to disclose the information.

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The court will consider the Centre’s response on February 9. It is also the next date of hearing in the matter.

According to Google Ireland, they cannot disclose the information without following “a legal process through Irish Courts or by way of a Letter Rogatory through the Government”.

In the order dated November 21, Justice Prathiba M Singh had asked the Centre’s counsel to obtain instructions regarding the existence of any ‘Mutual Legal Assistance Treaty’ between India and Ireland, and also regarding any recent developments on data protection laws in India.

Gujarat Cooperative Milk Marketing Federation Limited – the owner of the Amul brand, in April filed an application against a Facebook user and Google LLC. The application alleged that the original video has been re-shared on Facebook and YouTube.

Facebook agreed to share the BSI relating to the Facebook profile of one Pratul Hora, whereas, Google LLC told the court that details of the uploader ‘WIDEOPEN’ are available with Google Ireland.

In its May 13 order, the court directed Google Ireland to submit a response and also clarify regarding its exact legal status whether it is a subsidiary of Google LLC.

On November 21, Google LLC told the court that access to the YouTube video has been blocked in India. Moreover, about the BSI, since the person uploading the video was not based in India, details are not available with it.

“Hence, Google LLC is unable to disclose the required BSI details of M/s. WIDEOPEN as the same are stored with and are under the control of Google Ireland, which is subject to the laws of Ireland, as also, the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR),” the court recorded in the order.

Representing Google Ireland, Senior Advocate Arvind Nigam argued that it is bound by Article 48 of GDPR which states that any court or administrative order of a third country for access to personal data “may only be recognised or enforceable in any manner if based on an international agreement, such as a mutual legal assistance treaty, in force between the requesting third country and the Union or a Member State, without prejudice to other grounds for transfer pursuant to this Chapter.”

Nigam also referred to the Foreign Tribunals Evidence Act, 1856 (Ireland) and Order 39 Rule V of the Superior Court Rules (Ireland).

“A conjoint reading of Article 48 of GDPR, the Foreign Tribunals Evidence Act, 1856, and the Superior Court Rules (Ireland), shows that the only manner in which the BSI details of M/s. WIDEOPEN can be obtained currently, pursuant to the orders of an Indian Court, would be either by means of a legal process through Irish Courts or by way of a Letter Rogatory through the Government,” the senior counsel submitted, adding that in the absence of a ‘Mutual Legal Assistance Treaty’ between India and Ireland, there is no other procedure to obtain the said data.

However, the counsel representing Amul referred to Neetu Singh & Anr. v. Telegram FZ LLC & Ors to argue that since the video is admittedly controlled and managed by Google LLC, the relevant data ought to be disclosed by Google LLC.

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