Special Correspondent

NEW DELHI: Chief Justice of India K.G. Balakrishnan on Saturday said the government could place restrictions on websites that exclusively circulated pornography and hate speech, though it would not be right to clamp blanket bans on all types of websites.

Addressing a national seminar on the enforcement of cyber law here, Justice Balakrishnan said it was also important to distinguish between intermediaries such as network service providers, website operators and individual users for fixing liability for wrongful acts.

“Liability cannot be mechanically placed on Internet intermediaries, when it is specific individuals who engage in reprehensible conduct. That would be comparable to punishing the persons who build roads for rash and negligent driving by other persons who operate vehicles on the roads.”

The distinction between intermediaries and end-users was important because in many cases the websites that ordinarily posted acceptable material also allowed users to circulate content of their own. The investigators should keep themselves abreast with the latest developments in web-based applications so that they could quickly identify the actual perpetrators instead of going after an intermediary, he said.

He wanted the Cyber Appellate Tribunal to reflect on the technological and judicial expertise needed to resolve cyber-related disputes. Those who served on the Tribunal must be familiar with the latest developments in Information Technology

Democratic values such as freedom of speech and expression, freedom of association and the freedom to pursue an occupation, business, profession or trade must be promoted in the online domain as well.