Why Supreme Court Has Ordered for Social Media Regulations?



Why Supreme Court Has Ordered for Social Media Regulations?

Recently, India’s Supreme Court gave the government the ultimatum to slash out the rules and regulations for the social networking sites like Facebook, Whatsapp and Twitter by January 2020. With an objective to confront the menaces such as hate speech and fake news, which has spread like a wild fire in the Indian social media, the Indian Supreme Court also pulled in the petitions related to social networks which were pending with various high courts.   

Spearheaded by Justices Deepak Gupta and Aniruddha Bose, the Supreme Court bench claims that the country’s Information Act allows the government to ask for decryption of data, but it doesn’t allow the government to force the intermediaries to decrypt the data. Besides, the court is waiting for the Centre to notify the revised Information Technology Intermediaries Guidelines (Amendment) Rules by January 15.

In addition, the Parliament has powered the government through Section 69 (1) of the Information Technology Act to intercept, monitor, analyze and decrypt information through a computer resource if satisfied that it is necessary or expedient to do so in the interest of the sovereignty or integrity of India, defence of India, security of the State, friendly relations with foreign States or public order or for preventing incitement to the commission of any cognizable offence or for investigation of any offence.

It is important to find that fine the balance between national interest, sovereignty and police investigation with individual privacy. The rights of the citizens cannot be trampled upon in regards to the national interest. However, the court hearing was due to the petition filed by Facebook for transfer of pleas concerning the linking of the social media accounts to Aadhar, which may lead to loss of individual privacy.

But Judge Deepak Gupta asked the government lawyers to explain why the obligation of facilitating decryption should be on the social media companies. He also claimed that the law allows the government to seek help to decrypt, but does not suggest the companies to do it for the government.