Centre seeks three months to frame rules on social media use

In an affidavit submitted to Supreme Court on Monday, the Centre has asked for three more months to frame rules and governing guidelines on social media usages in the country.

The court had asked the Centre on September 24 to frame rules to control the spread of hate speeches, fake news, defamatory posts and anti-national activities on social media and gave it three weeks to complete the task. The directive was given following the appeal by Facebook and WhatsApp to the apex court regarding transfer of some pending cases in the Madras, Bombay and Madhya Pradesh high courts on linking of social media accounts with Aadhar.

The social media giants have said in their appeals that the cases have serious national level security implications. The affidavit was thus submitted after the court asked the Centre what steps have been taken in the matter till now. In the same affidavit, the Centre has said, “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.”

The Centre, however, has observed in its affidavit that it needed to consult other ministries in order to ensure that interests of all stakeholders are taken into consideration and safeguarded while preparing the guidelines, and asked for more time.

The affidavit said that lowering of internet tariff, last-mile connectivity and increased availability of smart devices were the reasons behind widespread misuse of social media. It was also said in the affidavit that social media platforms needed to be more responsible and to be held liable for contents published on or transmitted through their platforms.

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