PIL in SC seeks regulation of social media platforms

PIL filed in Supreme Court for regulating social media platforms to prevent hate speech, fake news

Petitioner seeks direction to the Union government for establishing a mechanism for automatic removal of hate speech and fake news

Credit: PTI/file photo.

A PIL has been filed in the Supreme Court seeking a direction to the Centre to frame a separate law for regulating social media platforms, including Facebook, Twitter and WhatsApp, and hold them responsible for spreading hate speech and fake news.

Petitioner-advocate Vineet Jindal also sought a direction to the Union government for establishing a mechanism for automatic removal of hate speech and fake news within a short span of time.

The petition filed through advocate Raj Kishore Choudhary pointed out freedom of speech and expression was broadly understood as a notion that every person has the natural right to freely express themselves through any media. However, freedom of expression is a complex right.

Article 19(2) of the Constitution provided for a number of grounds for imposing reasonable restrictions on this right. "These are the interests of the sovereignty and integrity of India, the security of the State, friendly relations with foreign States, public order, decency or morality or in relation to contempt of court, defamation or incitement to an offence," it added.

Maintaining that everyone must take cognisance of fundamental duties enshrined in the Constitution, the petitioner cited a number of communal incidents, including of recent Delhi riots, communal violence in Pune in 2014, Muzaffarnagar riots in 2013, where social media played a role of incitements.

Emphasising the need to hold social media platforms directly responsible for spreading hate speeches in the country, the petitioner said, after a local communal incident, we rarely asked what was the role of social media and how had the social media age changed the way in which communal violence was engineered.

He pointed out the Australian Parliament has passed a legislation to crack down on violent videos on social media, despite furious reaction from the tech industry, media companies and legal experts.