While Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg is on a visit to India, the contract signed by the Centre with the social networking giant is at the centre of a heated courtroom debate over terms of usage of official contents shared by the government.
The Delhi high court on Wednesday directed the Centre to submit a copy of its contract with Facebook on an allegation by former BJP ideologue KN Govindacharya that the government had “surrendered” all intellectual property rights of the contents being uploaded on the site.
A bench of Justices BD Ahmed and Sanjeev Sachdeva passed the order after it was told by advocate Virag Gupta, appearing for Govindacharya, that the government “has not even retained a copy of the original agreement signed with Facebook”.
The Centre was further directed to submit in an affidavit the details of its contract with video-sharing site Youtube and instant messaging app WhatsApp. This is the second time the high court asked the Centre to submit details of its contract with Facebook. “The agreement should be the one which is in force today,” the bench said.
Additional solicitor general Sanjay Jain, appearing for the Centre, said that the government has “enough safeguards” in place to deal with the misuse of contents shared by it on social media. The government had earlier told the court that it does not have “tailor-made” contracts with Facebook.
But advocate Gupta contended that by surrendering intellectual property rights of the content shared on such sites, the government was allowing foreign companies to “use it for commercial purposes”.
Gupta has sought direction from the government to have custom-made contracts with Facebook in line with other social media companies.