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Will introduce framework to regulate social media platforms: center tells Delhi HC

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

The Center said the proposed framework would be forward-looking and therefore existing cases of suspension of social media accounts should be decided based on existing regulations.

The statement was made by the central government lawyer before Judge Yashwant Varma, who was hearing a batch of motions against the suspension of the accounts of several social media users, including Twitter users.

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“We have checked Your Lordship’s (latest) order. The amendment will take place at some point, we don’t really know (when). It will be prospective and (therefore) these cases may need to be decided (according to the existing scheme),” said lawyer Kirtiman Singh, appearing for the Center.

Giving more time to the Center to inform it of further developments, the court adjourned the hearing on the motions to December 19 while observing: “If the scope of the regulatory power that you (the Center) propose to invoke is known , we will know what the contours of our jurisdiction are.

In August, the court asked the Center to indicate whether it was considering draft regulatory measures relating to social media platforms.

During the hearing, the court asked on Wednesday why existing grievances about the suspension and deletion of social media accounts should not be dealt with under the proposed framework and said it wanted to understand the impact of any new regime on the cases before it.

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

Several applications regarding the removal and suspension of social media users are awaiting a decision from the High Court.

The bundle includes senior attorney Sanjay Hegde’s petition against the permanent suspension of his Twitter account for allegedly retweeting two posts.

In its affidavit filed in one of the cases against the suspension of a Twitter account, the Center said that an individual’s freedom and liberty cannot be “caught or given up in the wake of social and technological progress”. and that social media platforms must respect the basic rights of citizens and conform to the Constitution of India.

He said that social media platforms should not delete the account itself or completely suspend it in any case and complete deletion of the platform is against the spirit of Articles 14, 19 and 21 of the Indian Constitution. .

Stating that it is the guardian of the fundamental rights of users in cyberspace, the Center said that a social network account can only be suspended or deleted in cases such as in the interest of sovereignty, security and integrity of India, friendly relations with foreign states or public order or under a court order or the content is manifestly illegal, such as sexual abuse material, etc.

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