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Plea Alleges Social Media Platforms Objectifying Women, Defaming Govt, Judiciary, Breaching Users' Privacy: MP High Court Issues Notice

Sparsh Upadhyay
18 Jun 2021 5:52 AM GMT
Plea Alleges Social Media Platforms Objectifying Women, Defaming Govt, Judiciary, Breaching Users Privacy: MP High Court Issues Notice
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The Madhya Pradesh High Court on Monday issued notice on a plea filed alleging that social media companies, including WhatsApp, Facebook, Instagram & Twitter are displaying/hosting obscene, unregulated, uncertified, sexually explicit, and legally restricted content. The plea has been moved by Maatr Foundation through advocate Amay Bajaj and it further alleges that the...

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The Madhya Pradesh High Court on Monday issued notice on a plea filed alleging that social media companies, including WhatsApp, Facebook, Instagram & Twitter are displaying/hosting obscene, unregulated, uncertified, sexually explicit, and legally restricted content.

The plea has been moved by Maatr Foundation through advocate Amay Bajaj and it further alleges that the above-named social media companies are facilitating online gambling, online prostitution, online hate crimes, online economic frauds and other illegal activities.

The Bench of Chief Justice Mohammad Rafiq and Justice Vijay Kumar Shukla directed the Registry that the correct names of the social media companies be added to the array of parties and the documents filed by the petitioners be placed on record.

Averments in the plea

The plea avers that due to the absence of any regulatory authority/guidelines/special laws to control such acts in India, these platforms are violating various Indian laws relating to women, children, contract, e-commerce, intellectual property rights, betting, terrorism, hatred, and other offences.

The Plea alleges that these platforms are not only objectifying women but also filling the minds with lascivious thoughts which is violative of their fundamental right to live with dignity.

"The content is easily accessible by the public at large on the internet. Even the children who are below the age of 18 years can gain easy access to this content which is harmful for the society at large," adds the plea.

It has been further stated in the plea that these platforms are not only hosting content which is abusing and defaming the government of India but also the Judiciary, the Executive bodies of India, the freedom fighters, the Defense Forces of India as well as blasphemous content about several religions and gods and goddesses in India.

Further, it has also been averred that the companies are also breaching the privacy of users and selling their personal data as well as other sensitive information to their subsidiary companies and in open market.

Prayers in the plea

  • Frame guidelines in order to regulate the content broadcast by Social media platforms;
  • Direct social media platforms that are broadcasting such explicit and illegal content to remove all such content from their websites as well as the internet with immediate effect and;
  • Form an AD-HOC committee to address the issues raised in the present petition and formulate certain legal provisions to make stringent laws on the issues in India.
  • An order to social media platforms to take down any such alleged content in near future within a time span of 24 hours of its upload on the social media platforms.

In related news, a PIL has been moved by Dr. Seema Singh, Meghan, and Vikram Singh seeking a direction to the Central government to order WhatsApp to either rollback the new privacy policy or provide an option for users to opt out.

Earlier, WhatsApp had told Court that users could simply stop using the app if they did not consent to the policy, and that no opt-out option was necessary for the same.

The government has claimed that the policy violates the Information Technology Rules, 2011 and that WhatsApp may be restrained from implementing the new policy till the challenge to the validity of the policy is finally decided.

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