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Concerned over social media misuse, SC calls for strict guidelines

Concerned over social media misuse, SC calls for strict guidelines

New Delhi: The Supreme Court has expressed concern over the origin and spread of fake messages on social media platforms like WhatsApp and Facebook and given the Centre three weeks to make recommendations that protect the "sovereignty of the State, privacy of an individual and prevention of illegal activities".

"(The) originator (of fake messages) must be traced. At the same time, the sovereignty of the nation and the privacy of individuals should be maintained. Neither we nor a High Court can decide. It is for the government to come up with a policy," a two-judge bench headed by Justice Deepak Gupta said Tuesday.

The top court had earlier asked the Centre to clarify whether it was contemplating forming guidelines or a framework for linking social media accounts of users with their 12-digit biometric unique identifier Aadhaar.

The court had said the matter, to help trace the originator of content, needs to be decided at the earliest.

It had said that it would not go into the merits of the case and would only decide the plea filed by Facebook Inc, which is seeking transfer of cases related to Aadhaar linking pending before high courts of Madras, Bombay and Madhya Pradesh to itself.

The Centre told the court that it had no objection to transfer of the cases as high courts have spent considerable judicial time on such matters.

Facebook and instant messaging app WhatsApp, had said they had filed two appeals against Madras High Court orders.

The Tamil Nadu government in its reply to the transfer petition had claimed that Facebook Inc and other social media companies were not complying with Indian laws, resulting in "increased lawlessness" and difficulties in "detecting crimes".

It had sought a modification of the August 20 order of the apex court directing the Madras High Court to continue hearing pleas for linking social media profiles with Aadhaar but restraining it from passing any orders.

The high court is at an advanced stage of the hearing, but due to the apex court's August 20 order, it deferred the hearing on those petitions, the state government had said.

MPOST BUREAU

MPOST BUREAU

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