Freedom of Speech & Google Search- Preliminary Notes for India: Working Paper by Ujwala Uppaluri

As the Internet progressively becomes a key means by which information is communicated and exchanged, there is a growing need to examine how the applications that facilitate access to these troves of information operate.

Search engines have come to play a critical role in the digital information landscape. In India the question of search is currently a subject of investigation and more recently a fine by the Competition Commission of India. More recently the question of what search engines can list in their results has come up before the Indian Supreme Court.

Google-Bing-Search-Engine

Google and other search engines have argued that their algorithm’s ranking of search results was an exercise in editorial discretion, available to all speakers as a First Amendment right. This has laid the groundwork for claims of search engines’ rights to freedom of speech. However, in the recent landmark judgment of Shreya Singhal v. Union of India, the Supreme Court had during the oral hearing stated that intermediaries do not have free speech rights.

Against this backdrop, this paper very briefly introduces comparative scholarship around search and the constitutional right to free speech and takes the first steps to making that the argument for the need to regulate important participants such as search engines in the information landscape, and for the need to construct and clarify Article 19(1)(a) frameworks to ensure rights adjudication to such regulation result in balanced outcomes.

The Complete Paper can be found here: https://drive.google.com/file/d/0BwY1OLu_H1ICanlpUmt2dGdqelk/view?usp=sharing

(Ujwala Uppaluri was a Fellow at CCG from June 2014 to April 2015 and will be joining Harvard Law School to pursue her LL.M. from August 2015.)  

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