Social media is to face severe restrictions if all goes according to the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MeitY). Keeping in mind the “incidents” caused by the (fake) news spread through social media, the Centre wants stricter rules in the Information Technology Intermediaries Guidelines (Amendment) Rules, 2018.
A few cases that came to light highlight the main issue with social media: a potent tool to cause ‘unimaginable disruption’ to the democratic polity, as told by the Centre to the Supreme Court. It is currently seeking three more months for finalizing and notifying the rules that would regulate the functioning of social media intermediaries in the country.
MeitY told the apex court that, “If on one hand technology has led to economic growth and societal development, on the other hand, there has been an exponential rise in hate speech, fake news, anti-national activities, defamatory postings and other unlawful activities using internet/social media platforms”
The affidavit filed by Additional Secretary Pankaj Kumar, MeitY, said, “As the internet has emerged as a potent tool to cause unimaginable disruption to the democratic polity, it was felt that the extant rules be revised for effective regulation of intermediaries, keeping in view the ever-growing threats to individual rights and the nation’s integrity, sovereignty, and security.”
The affidavit was filed in a transfer petition moved by Facebook Inc., seeking transfer of cases filed in three high courts, relating to linking of social media profiles with Aadhaar. The renewed draft rules are currently under review and as it has to be vetted by the Law and Justice Ministry. The entire method will be completed by January 2020.
The apex court has stated its concerns over issues like character assassination, trolling, spreading lies and fake news during the hearing of the Facebook plea. All the pleas in the three High Courts have sought a direction that Aadhaar or any other government-authorized identity proof should be made mandatory to authenticate social media accounts.