Wikimedia says India’s proposed intermediary liability rules will impact Wikipedia and limit access to information online, urges government to redraft rules(Amanda Keton/Wikimedia Foundation)

While many of us are well aware that Wikipedia is not merely an encyclopedia but a knowledge base in the form of a free, collaborative, web-based encyclopedia, we have yet to give much thought to the actual workings of the site. Most of us use it to look things up on the internet. But the truth is, even though Wikipedia is free, its operation costs a lot of money. If you’re one of the countless individuals who visit Wikipedia each day, you haven’t stopped to think about the real cost of operating the site. The truth is it’s an open-source project, meaning it’s completely free, but it costs thousands of dollars a year to host and maintain. So, what’s driving the huge number of visits that Wikipedia receives daily? A lot of it comes from mobile phones. That’s right, Wikipedia’s mobile apps are responsible for about 90% of the site’s daily traffic, and a large chunk of that comes from India, where Wikipedia’s mobile app is the most popular worldwide.

How India’s proposed intermediary liability rules will impact Wikipedia?

Wikimedia is strongly opposed to proposed new intermediary liability regulations that would force Internet platforms to vet user content for alleged violations of copyright law, even if the platform did not store the material. The proposed new rules are part of the Copyright Amendment (Amendment to the Indian Copyright Act, 1957) Bill 2016 introduced by the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MeitY) in the Rajya Sabha on Wednesday. Wikimedia believes such regulation would threaten the very future of the free, open, and decentralized encyclopedia and is deeply concerned that the regulations would put Indian citizens’ access to knowledge at risk.

What is India’s proposed intermediary liability rules?

Wikimedia, the non-profit organization behind Wikipedia, has been at the forefront of pushing back against India’s proposed intermediary liability rules. The Indian government has proposed new rules to impose intermediary liability on websites that let people upload copyright content. They will require internet intermediaries like Google and Facebook to prevent copyrighted content from being uploaded without permission.

How India’s proposed intermediary liability rules urge the government to redraft rules?

The draft rules would apply to intermediaries such as Google, Facebook, YouTube, Bing, Amazon, Snapdeal, ShopClues, Paytm Mall, and PayU. However, while it may seem that these sites have all been designed to evade regulation, the actual purpose of this law is to regulate intermediaries and ensure that they protect user data. Under the draft rules, intermediaries are liable if their published content leads to certain harms. These include defamation, incitement of violence and hatred, and privacy violations. Wikimedia is urging the Indian government to make the law more specific.


In conclusion, Wikipedia and other free-information projects rely on volunteers who share their knowledge and passion for learning without financial gain. They must remain independent of commercial interests to keep growing and keeping the content fresh. This has led to fierce opposition to laws forcing them to pay publishers, media companies, and ad networks for content. Wikimedia believes the draft regulations were created to limit freedom of speech. The organization said it was concerned by the threat the draft regulations posed to the open internet in India. This move could also lead to the blocking of Wikipedia in the country. 


1. What does the government say?

The government has said that intermediary liability would hurt freedom of expression and online information flow.

2. What does Wikimedia India say?

Wikimedia India believes that intermediary liability will stifle free expression and limit access to information online. It also says that the government should redraft the rules to ensure they do not negatively impact free expression or limit access to information.

3. Why is the government of India proposing intermediary liability rules?

The Indian government is proposing new rules for intermediaries like Google and Facebook to protect people from the content they post online. The Indian government is concerned about criminals’ growing use of social media to spread misinformation.

4. How will the new rules affect Wikipedia and other websites?

The new rules would apply to any intermediary providing users access to online content. This includes websites like Facebook, Twitter, and Google. If these companies do not comply with the new rules, they could be held responsible for what their users post online.

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