The center has requested 3 months to frame New Rules for Social Media platforms to control hateful speech, fake news, defamatory posts, and anti-national activities. The government said in an order issued before the Supreme Court today that there had been an exponential increase in such messages, posts and that greater regulation of the internet and social media was needed to help protect national security.
After the top court asked the government what measures had been taken in this regard, the affidavit was filed. Three weeks ago, the Supreme Court gave the government recommendations to protect “sovereignty of the State, the privacy of an individual and prevention of illegal activities”.
“On one hand technology has lead to economic growth. On the other hand, there is a huge ascend in fake news, etc. The Internet has emerged as a potent tool to cause unimaginable disruption to the democratic polity,” the center’s affidavit said.
“It is needed to frame effective rules, felt in view of the ever-growing threats to individual rights and nation’ integrity, sovereignty and security. Three more months to finalize the rules in view of the complexities involved,” the affidavit continued.
Justice Deepak Gupta, who leads the bench of two judges hearing this case, expressed concern about some of the modern world’s harmful uses of technology, on September 24.
“It is dangerous the way the technology is available. After the last hearing I researched and found I could buy an Ak-47, on the dark web, in 30 minutes,” he said adding, “I was telling someone I want to give up my smartphone”.
The court replied to a petition submitted by Facebook and WhatsApp seeking the transfer of cases pending at the high courts of Madras, Bombay and Madhya Pradesh regarding the demand to connect Aadhaar.
The giants of social media had argued that judgments in these cases would have implications for national security and should, therefore, be determined by the country’s top court.
Moreover, the court made it clear last month that the issue at hand was monitoring the original senders of fake news and messages that culminated in mob attacks and killings.
WhatsApp was also under scrutiny last year by the Home Ministry in a bid to foil terrorist communication-particularly in areas such as Jammu and Kashmir. “WhatsApp calling and messaging has now become the preferred medium of communication for anti-national forces and we are right now clueless about keeping a tab on it,” an officer told NDTV.
The center had previously indicated that it could take legal action after WhatsApp, which is proud to be a fully encrypted messenger, refused to allow the monitoring of original message senders.