Social networking platforms have to ensure they aren't used to commit, provoke terrorism, extremism, violence, crime, Centre tells Delhi HC
The Centre has told the Delhi High Court on Friday that the social networking platforms are required to follow due diligence as provided in section 79 of the Information Technology Act 2000 and the Rules notified therein. They have also to follow Article 19(2) of the Constitution and ensure that their platforms are not used to commit and provoke terrorism, extremism, violence and crime.
The Centre has told the Delhi High Court on Friday that the social networking platforms are required to follow due diligence as provided in section 79 of the Information Technology Act 2000 and the Rules notified therein. They have also to follow Article 19(2) of the Constitution and ensure that their platforms are not used to commit and provoke terrorism, extremism, violence and crime. The government is committed to the freedom of speech and expression and privacy of its citizens as enshrined in the Constitution of India. The government does not regulate content appearing on the social network platform, said the centre's affidavit.
The Centre also stated that by taking the reinforcement of legal provisions to make the platforms more accountable, the government will also promote initiatives to increase awareness among the citizens to become adept in noticing fake news and to avoid becoming a party to viral circulation of fake news. A campaign to educate school children about the misuse of social media for propagation of false news will be taken up. The Common Service Centres will also be engaged in the task of promoting this message among people especially in rural areas. Various stakeholders such as educational institutions, professional and industrial associations, chambers of commerce etc. would also be involved in this campaign. The State Governments will also be requested to join in this effort to make the citizens more aware to prevent the use and abuse of social media, said the Ministry of Electronics of Information Technology (MeitY).
The Centre through an affidavit opposed the petition of Whatsapp and Facebook challenging newly amended IT Rules. It said that WhatsApp has already violated the fundamental rights of the users in India by denying them any dispute resolution rights in the country. Facebook and Whatsapp have recently challenged the new rules on the grounds that they violate the right to privacy and are unconstitutional. The Delhi HC had asked the Centre to reply to pleas challenging the new IT rules for social media intermediaries requiring the messaging app to "trace" chats and make provisions to identify the first originator of the information.
Earlier, WhatsApp through its statement had said "Requiring messaging apps to 'trace' chats is the equivalent of asking us to keep a fingerprint of every single message sent on WhatsApp, which would break end-to-end encryption and fundamentally undermine people's right to privacy." WhatsApp spokesperson had said, "We have consistently joined civil society and experts around the world in opposing requirements that would violate the privacy of our users. In the meantime, we will also continue to engage with the Government of India on practical solutions aimed at keeping people safe, including responding to valid legal requests for the information available to us."
On February 25, the Centre framed the Information Technology (Intermediary Guidelines and Digital Media Ethics Code) Rules 2021, in the exercise of powers under section 87 (2) of the Information Technology Act, 2000 and in supersession of the earlier Information Technology (Intermediary Guidelines) Rules 2011. The new guidelines issued by the government of India mandated a grievance redressal system for over the top (OTT) and digital portals in the country. (ANI)
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