Supreme court has clubbed petitions related to regulation of social media together
Supreme court has clubbed petitions related to regulation of social media together

Supreme Court issues notice to Twitter, Centre over regulation of content

  • The SC notices come amid a continuing face off between Twitter and the Central government over more than 1,300 social media accounts or posts in connection with the farmers’ protest and the violence on January 26
By Utkarsh Anand | Edited by Abhinav Sahay
PUBLISHED ON FEB 12, 2021 12:39 PM IST

The Supreme Court on Friday issued notices to Central government and Twitter on a PIL filed by BJP leader Vinit Goenka seeking regulation of content on social media platforms.

Goenka has asked for directions for devising a mechanism to check fake news and instigative messages circulated via social media, especially Twitter. The plea also seeks a crackdown on ‘anti-India messages’ and those attempting to trigger violence in the country by spreading ‘venomous’ messages.

The court has tagged Goenka's matter with a bunch of similar petitions already pending before the apex court.

The SC notices come amid a continuing face off between Twitter and the Central government over more than 1,300 social media accounts or posts in connection with the farmers’ protest and the violence on January 26 deemed ‘inflammatory’ by the government.

Information Technology Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad on Thursday warned social media platforms including Twitter of strict action for not cracking down on alleged inflammatory content, saying they have to fully comply with the country's law.

He said differential treatment of incidents on Capitol Hill and the Red Fort was not justified. He added that while the government was committed to freedom of media and rights of individuals but it was equally concerned about safety, security, and law and order in the country.

"Please don't spread enmity, violence and misinformation. Please follow the Constitution of India and the law of the land," he said replying to a question in Rajya Sabha.

On Wednesday, his ministry had expressed displeasure at Twitter for failing to remove all of the over 1,300 accounts and posts it had flagged. The government was riled after Twitter in a public blog post said it has taken down only half of the accounts and posts flagged by the government.

The Constitution of India guarantees freedom of speech but Article 19 (2) also says that it is subject to reasonable restrictions because of the "sovereignty and integrity" of India.

Prasad said that while social media platforms have their own self-regulatory mechanism to check and evaluate inflammatory content, that does not mean they will not follow the Indian rules.

Asked about steps taken by the government to check the spread of misinformation on social media, he said "We have recently flagged Twitter" on the issue.

His ministry officials are in talks with Twitter on the issue.

Prasad also said that the government respected the good work and the foreign investment the social media giants bring into the country but the laws of the country had to be respected.

On the protection of privacy of the individuals of the country on social media, he said the government is working on new guidelines.

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