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Social Media Regulations: Need 3 Months To Frame Rules, Centre Informs SC

The Centre told the Supreme Court that internet had become a powerful tool which can potentially cause ‘unimaginable disruption to the democratic polity’.


NEW DELHI: The Centre on Monday informed the Supreme Court that it would need 3 more months to finalize the process of updating and notifying the intermediary guidelines for social media in India, as per the reports by PTI. These new rules will be aimed at curbing the alleged exploitation of various social media platforms like Facebook and WhatsApp; major issues like fake news, hate speech, defamatory posts, and anti-national activities will be regulated by the updated guidelines which are expected by the last week of January.

After the top courts inquired about the steps taken on this subject, an affidavit had been filed, in which the government said that the country witnessed an exponential increase in the kind of posts and messages that incite hatred, disrupts social harmony and threatens country’s integrity, and therefore, a greater control over the internet is required to safeguard national security.

On the basis of the appeals filed by social media giants like WhatsApp, Facebook, and Twitter, who argued that the cases will probably have national security implications, the court assembled all the related cases and transferred them to the High Courts. After the government provides the court a draft of revised intermediaries guidelines, the next hearing will take its course, which is expected on January 15.

The Internet has become a powerful tool which can potentially cause “unimaginable disruption to the democratic polity”, The Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology told the court.

Although technology has facilitated economic growth and progress, it also heightened the concerns regarding social harmony and national security. “As the internet has emerged as a potent tool to cause unimaginable disruption to the democratic polity, it was felt that the extant rules be revised for effective regulation of intermediaries, keeping in view the ever-growing threats to individual rights and the nation’s integrity, sovereignty, and security,” remarked the ministry in the affidavit. “After collating and analyzing all the details from stakeholder participation and inter-ministerial consultation, the deponent has bonafide belief that a further period of three months would be required for finalizing and notifying the final revised rules in accordance with law.”

Prior to Tamil Nadu’s agreement on transferring the cases to the top courts, the Attorney Journal said, “WhatsApp and Facebook after coming to India can't say they can't decrypt information.”
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