Media platforms

Will introduce a framework to regulate social media platforms: Center to Delhi HC

“Social media platforms must be held accountable for subjugating and overriding fundamental rights”

“Social media platforms must be held accountable for subjugating and overriding fundamental rights”

The Center informed the Delhi High Court on Wednesday that it would “at some point in time” put in place a framework to regulate social media platforms, including the de-platforming of users by them.

The Center made the statement before Judge Yashwant Varma who is hearing a batch of petitions against suspending the accounts of several social media users, including Twitter users.

“The amendment will happen at some point, we don’t really know [when]. It will be prospective and [therefore] these cases may need to be decided [as per the existing scheme]lawyer Kirtiman Singh, representing the Centre, told the High Court.

Regulatory power

The High Court postponed the hearing of the petitions until December 19 observing: “If the scope of the regulatory power that you [Centre] proposing to invoke is known, we will know what are the contours of our competence”.

At the last hearing in August, the High Court had asked the Center to assess it on any draft regulatory measures relating to social media platforms which may be currently under consideration.

During Wednesday’s hearing, the court considered why existing grievances about the suspension and deletion of social media accounts should not be dealt with under the proposed framework.

“Before making a judgment, we also want to understand if there is a regulatory mechanism that they propose to implement [and] whether it would impact this lot,” the court said.

In its affidavit filed in one of the petitions, the Center said social media platforms must be held accountable for “subjugating and overriding fundamental rights like the right to free speech and expression, otherwise it would have disastrous consequences for any democratic nation”. ”.

“It is humbly maintained that the liberty and freedom of any individual cannot be impeded or abandoned in the wake of social and technological progress,” the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MeitY) said in its affidavit.

Ability to defend

The Center said that when a major social media intermediary (SSMI) such as Twitter makes the decision to suspend all or part of a user’s account “of their own volition” due to their violation of the policy, they must provide a reasonable opportunity for the user to defend his side.

The exception, the Center said, where SSMIs could make such a determination includes “certain scenarios such as rape, sexually explicit material or child sexual abuse material, bot or malware activity , content related to terrorism, etc.”.

“If an SSMI fails to comply with the above, it may constitute a violation of the IT Rules 2021,” the Center said.


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