Delhi HC stays Rs 1.1 mn penalty on Yahoo

NEW DELHI: The Delhi High Court has stayed the imposition of Rs 1.1 million fine levied by the Union Home Ministry on the Internet portal Yahoo for not imparting information about nearly a dozen yahoo IDs and IP addresses who are suspected to be Islamic Terrorists and Maoists.

On a petition by the portal challenging the government‘s decision, the Court also issued a notice to the Central Government.

In its petition, Yahoo has raised the question on the right to privacy of a company that stores such sensitive data and the extent to which authorities can coerce it to part with the information considered necessary to either track terror perpetrators or thwart future attacks.

The government cannot under the cloak of national security implications bypass legal procedures, the petitioner has argued, claiming the section and clauses invoked by the Government to demand information from Yahoo does not empower the government to do so.

The petition cited many instances of notices sent to the web portal by the government during this year, where it cited an email ID and sought exhaustive details of the user and the IP address used over the past three months.

The firm said repeated notices were received and when it expressed its inability to furnish the information, arguing it was bound by a confidentiality clause, the government levied the fine of Rs 1.1 million for alleged non-compliance with provisions of the Information Technology Act. The intention is to coerce the petitioner into agreeing to toe the line of the government, the petitioner says.
Yahoo said that after receiving the notices demanding information on mail IDs they informed the authorities that the request was not made under proper channels, and it should have come from another authority dealing with cyber security, but the government did not agree.

The company is duty bound to ensure complete confidentiality, and refuse to divulge information, the petitioner said.

Pursuant to the blast outside the High Court early this year, many emails were received by the Ministry claiming responsibility for the blast and it had asked Yahoo to furnish details of these email IDs.

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