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Action Will Be Taken Against Social Media Platforms Spreading Fake News, Violence; Govt Framing New Guidelines: Law Minister RS Prasad Tells Parliament

LIVELAW NEWS NETWORK
11 Feb 2021 8:21 AM GMT
Action Will Be Taken Against Social Media Platforms Spreading Fake News, Violence; Govt Framing New Guidelines: Law Minister RS Prasad Tells Parliament
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Union Law Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad has strongly condemned the misuse of social media in the country and has made it clear that strict action will be taken against companies like Facebook and Whatsapp if they're found to be involved in spreading fake news, violence. Responding to the concerns raised by AAP MP Sushil Kumar Gupta during the question hour in Rajya Sabha on Thursday,...

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Union Law Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad has strongly condemned the misuse of social media in the country and has made it clear that strict action will be taken against companies like Facebook and Whatsapp if they're found to be involved in spreading fake news, violence.

Responding to the concerns raised by AAP MP Sushil Kumar Gupta during the question hour in Rajya Sabha on Thursday, the Law Minister said,

"We respect social media a lot, it has empowered common people. Social media has a big role in Digital India programme. We also respect criticism of Government through social media. However, if social media is misused to spread fake news, violence, then action will be taken."

He informed the House that a platform to bust fake news has been established by the Government. Further, they are revisiting the Intermediary Guidelines and a statement on the same will be laid before the Parliament once a concrete decision is taken thereof.

Prasad minced no words in stating that misuse of social media will not be tolerated and the companies will have to abide by Indian Laws, and the Constitution of India.

"Be it Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn or WhatsApp, I request all of them politely— work in India, you have crores of followers here and we respect that. You also make money but, you will have to abide by Indian laws and the Constitution," the minister said.

He added,

"We have flagged Twitter. Our department has engaged with the company…What is the matter that when there is ransacking in US Capitol Hill at Washington, micro-blogging companies stand by police investigation but when Red Fort is breached, the same platforms go against the Indian government? Red Fort is the symbol of our pride. We won't allow these double standards. Yes, Freedom of speech is a part of the Indian Constitution but the same is subject to reasonable restrictions for maintaining the sovereignty and integrity of India."

Prasad added that these companies operate by framing their own laws in the form of privacy policies. However, if these policies do not respect the Indian laws and Constitution, then they will not be allowed.

The remarks assume relevance in the context of recent controversy surrounding Whatsapp's updated privacy policy of 2020.

Also Read: Asked WhatsApp To Review 2021 Privacy Policy': IT Ministry Informs Parliament

The Minister said that the Government believes that privacy is a very important right and even the Supreme Court has held that privacy is a Fundamental Right.

He added that the existing gaps in the law for protection of this right will be addressed when the Government comes up with new Guidelines in appropriate time.

"This Government is led by leaders who have fought for freedom of individuals, freedom of media and independence of judiciary, particularly during emergency days…our commitment for freedom of media, rights of individuals and independence of Judiciary is complete and total. But we are equally concerned about safety, security and sovereignty of India," he said.

In his concluding remarks, Prasad urged the social media companies to check publication of obscene & violent content on their platforms and take action as per their own guidelines and policies.

"Freedom is important but when you abuse it in a manner, showing obscene content, family issues and content to incite super-violent, I would urge the social media- if you have certain internal guidelines, please measure these unbridled exposures on the standards of your own guidelines and take action," he said.

Meanwhile, Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology has also issued a statement claiming, "Rules are being amended to make social media platforms more responsive and accountable to Indian laws. These Rules will also make digital media platforms to adhere to Code of Ethics."

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