Delhi HC Consider issuing Letters Rogatory to Ireland as Google Withholds YouTube Channel Information

LI Network

Published on: February 6, 2024 at 12:45 IST

In a recent development, Google has declined to disclose Basic Subscriber Information (BSI) for a YouTube channel operating within the European Union, leading the Delhi High Court to consider issuing Letters Rogatory to Ireland for judicial assistance in obtaining the required information.

The case, Gujarat Cooperative Milk Marketing Federation Ltd & Anr v. Sujay Kumar & Ors, revolves around alleged disparagement of the renowned milk brand Amul on social media platforms, including YouTube. The High Court has been actively involved in the matter since 2021.

Justice Anish Dayal, in an order dated February 2, expressed concern over the non-disclosure of the identity of the YouTube channel named ‘WIDEOPEN,’ stressing that it was impeding the trial’s progress.

While previous Court orders had restrained disparaging posts by other defendants, the identity of defendant no. 5 remained undisclosed by Google LLC, the operator of YouTube.

Google’s consistent stance is grounded in the applicability of the European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) to the YouTube channel based in Ireland.

Google Ireland holds the data related to the YouTube channel’s identity, and without a ‘Mutual Legal Assistance Treaty’ between India and Ireland, the disclosure of Basic Subscriber Information (BSI) can only occur through legal proceedings in Irish Courts or via Letters Rogatory through the Indian government.

In response to these complexities, the Court’s latest order suggests two potential paths: issuing Letters Rogatory through the government or directing Google Ireland to seek orders from local Irish Courts regarding GDPR obligations.

The Central government’s representative informed the Court that Letters Rogatory involve official communication between countries and may not necessarily lead to a directive from Irish Courts.

Justice Dayal noted a prior High Court ruling emphasizing that plaintiffs cannot be left without remedies due to data protection laws in various jurisdictions globally.

The Court is set to reconvene on April 22 to further deliberate on the matter after Google Ireland files a response regarding the potential options available.

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