Delhi High Court - Social Media
Delhi High Court - Social Media
Litigation News

Delhi High Court issues notice in a plea for notifying Designated Officers for Social Media platforms, removal of hate speech and fake news

The plea by KN Govindacharya also urges the Court to direct immediate action for the removal of fake news and hate speech from online platforms such as FB, Twitter and Google, through such officers.

Bar & Bench

The Delhi High Court on Wednesday issued notice in a plea urging the Court to direct social media companies to disclose details of their designated officers under various rules under the Informational Technology (IT) Act, concerning online intermediaries.

The plea also urges the Court to order the removal of hate speech and fake news online through such designated officers.

The designated officer is expected to be responsible as the company’s contact person in cases of unlawful online content or activity on social media platforms including hate speech. However, grievance has been raised that,

“… social media companies and the Government have not notified the details of designated officers.”
KN Govindacharya

In this backdrop, the petition filed by KN Govindacharya raises concern over the rise of hate speech on social media, leading to divisiveness in society and an increasing burden on Courts.

“Despite many steps taken by the police, growing trend of hate speech on social media, has increased burden of courts. In absence of any action, hate speech continues to grow on social media. The results of the same are rioting and divisive society. Consequently, the general public faces hardship like postponement of exams, curbs on public transport, damage to public and private property, violence as well as impact on security of women and children."

KN Govindacharya

The petitioner places part of the blame for the continuance of hate speech on the social media companies themselves, noting that “such objectionable content is a big source of revenue for Social media companies, but same is manipulated to evade the taxes.”

In cases of illegal content being uploaded on these platform, the Government is expected to contact a designated officer in the country for the social media company concerned under various IT Rules.

These include Rules for “Blocking for Access of Information by Public”, “Procedure and Safeguards for Interception, Monitoring and Decryption of Information” and “Procedure and Safeguard for Monitoring and Collecting Traffic Data or Information Rules”.

Further, Govindacharya points out that, “For unlawful interception, a user has a right to sue the responsible persons, including the designated officer of the intermediaries for their failure to safely keep users’ data as well as arbitrarily censoring content on social media.”

The petitioner goes on to add,

“It is only when the formal presence of above-mentioned designated officer of intermediaries in India is notified, the members of the public will be able to meaningfully exercise their Fundamental Right of Right to Life and Access of Justice.”
KN Govindacharya

Therefore, he has prayed that the High Court direct the Union Government and social media companies - including Facebook, Google and Twitter - fo formally notify the details of designated officers as mandated under the IT Rules.

Further it has been prayed that the Court direct that immediate action be taken through such designated officers fr the removal of fake news and hate speech being circulated on social media.

The petition has been filed through counsel Dr. PK Agrawal and Vanya Gupta. Advocate Virag Gupta appeared for the petitioner today.

[Read the Petition]

K. N. Govindacharya vs UOI and ors - Desginated Officers.pdf
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