The Supreme Court on Tuesday directed the Central Government to file an affidavit regarding framing of guidelines to prevent misuse of social media by balancing the interests of online privacy and state sovereignty. Concerns of national security are also to be kept in mind, added the bench of Justices Deepak Gupta and Aniruddha Bose.
The bench was considering the petition filed by Facebook Inc, for transfer to SC the cases in the High Courts of Madras, Bombay and Madhya Pradesh which seek interlinking of Aadhaar with social media accounts.
During the hearing, the bench discussed the issue of traceability of cyber criminals and originators of fake news.
"Misuse of social media has become dangerous. Govt should step in to deal with the issue at the earliest. Why should we worry about the internet? We will worry about our country. We can't say we don't have the technology to track the origins of online crimes. If originators have technology to do it, we have technology to counter it and track the originator.
"The State can take care of itself but what recourse does the individual have? What about the individuals when they are trolled?", continued the Judge.
"The way some of these technologies are operating is dangerous. I am considering giving up my smartphone and going back to feature phones.", commented the Judge,with Senior Advocate Kapil Sibal quipping that to do so would be a "wise move" and Solicitor General Tushar Mehta remarking, "a few of us have already done so".
"It's not for the courts to frame guidelines on prevention of social media misuse, policy can only be decided by the government. Once govt makes policy, then we can decide on the legality of policy. But issues like privacy need to be regulated by the government", Justice Gupta added.
The Court has granted three weeks time to the Centre to submit the affidavit. The Government has to state the time frame required to make the guidelines.
The next date of hearing is October 22.
The Madras HC has said that it was not considering the prayer for Aadhaar-social media linkage anymore and was examining the issue of traceability of originators of fake news and offensive messages for the purposes of crime detection.
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