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Internet Defamation

Another area of cyber crime is with regard to defamation. There are various issues related to Internet defamation. These include question of jurisdication and also questions relating to lack of legal awareness amongst people using the Internet.

An essential ingredient for defamation as defined under Section 499 of the IPC is ‘publication’. The question is what constitutes ‘publication’ on the net, looms large.Can e-mails be considered ‘publication’ when personal correspondence is not. If not, then who can stop an unscrupulous man from sending defamatory e-mails to all and sundry via the media of bulk e-mail. And if yes, then where does the liability lie if there is defamatory material posted on a bulletin board. Is the Internet service Provider (ISP) liable under Section 501 of the IPC, which makes the publisher/printer of defamatory material, the prime offender. If we were to juxtapose the penal law to the present case, the ISP would be held liable but under the IT Act, 2000, the ISP has been exonerated from liability under Section 79 as long as he can prove that the offence/contravention has occurred without his knowledge and that had exercised due diligence to prevent the commission of such offence/contravention.

 

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