We are living in networked society where we are interconnected with each other through mobile and Internet. We generate large volume of data using computers, mobiles which in turn is handled by the number of entities. Such entities are commonly known as service providers, which inter alia include mobile service providers, Internet service providers, social networking sites etc. with the increase in usage of Mobile and internet, Service providers have assumed more importance as we are dependent on them for various duties in our day-to-day life. Such service providers are known as intermediaries. Email service providers such as Gmail, Hotmail, rediffmail, Outlook, over the top (OTT) service provider likely you tube, Netflix, search engines like Google, Yahoo are intermediary. As we are becoming more and more dependent on computers, computer resources the role of service provider as intermediary has become significant. Furthermore, with the advent of Internet of things (IOT) intermediary has become more significant as they handle data generated by us. While handling data in the ordinary course they also deal with our personal and sensitive information. The concept of intermediaries has developed very fast. Various countries have defined intermediary in different ways. The definition of intermediary provided under Indian law is very exhaustive. It includes all type entities which use computers, computer resources, networks for their business
In the light of the above it has become pertinent and necessary to analyze and understand the concept of intermediary.
As per free dictionary Intermediary means a person who acts as a mediator or agent between parties.
As per Oxford Dictionary- Intermediary means helping other people or organizations to make an agreement by being a means of communication between them
In general, an intermediary is a person or service that is involved as a third party between two or more end points in a communication or transaction.
Intermediary under Section 2(I) (w) of the Information Technology Act 2000 as amended by the Information Technology (Amendment) Act 2008
"intermediary", with respect to any particular electronic records, means any person who on behalf of another person receives, stores or transmits that record or provides any service with respect to that record and includes telecom service providers, network service providers, internet service providers, web-hosting service providers, search engines, online payment sites, online-auction sites, online-market places and cyber cafes;
The Information Technology Amendment Act 2008 has clarified the definition of intermediary by specifically including the Telecom service providers, internet service providers, web-hosting service providers in the definition of intermediaries. Further search engines, online-payment sites, online auction sites, online market places and cyber cafes are also included in the definition of intermediary. In respect of electronic records, it also includes any person who on behalf of another person receives, stores or transmits that record or to increase with respect to the court. The definition is illustrative and includes all kind of service providers within its ambit. This part of the definition is very wide and includes all and any entity including hospitals, IT Companies, Banks, Govt organisations and various other service providing organizations, who receives, process, stores and transmit electronic record.
Internet service providers provide access to the internet including internet telephony service provider, Internet television;
Telecom Service Providers provide mobile and traditional phone services;
Web hosting service providers who provide web hosting services by providing space on servers;
Search engines which allow users to search the enquiries to Internet;
Online marketplace which provide platform for sale or purchase of items;
Online auction sites provide selling facility through bidding;
online payment sites which facilitate online payment through digital Internet and other means;
Cyber cafes are places which offers internet access to the public in their ordinary course of business;
Network Service Providers are various kinds of service providers who provide service using network.
The definition of Intermediary is very wide and encompass within its scope almost all kind of service providers who provides any service related to Computer, computer resources, communication devices, computer networks. Therefore, all such service providers are qualified as ‘Intermediary’.
This article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Expert advice should be sought about specific circumstances.