PIL in Supreme Court seeks action against social media accounts involved in online trade of illicit content, revenge porn etc.
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PIL in Supreme Court seeks action against social media accounts involved in online trade of illicit content, revenge porn etc.

The petition also prays for a mechanism to be put in place for the verification of social media profiles to weed out fake profiles and catfish accounts.

Shruti Mahajan

A PIL has been filed in the Supreme Court seeking action against social media users involved in dealing with explicit or graphic content and rape videos online.

The petitioners prays for putting in place an efficient mechanism to deal with such content in the future, as well as for appropriate laws to be put on place for the greater accountability of intermediary platforms.

Highlighting the menace of the toxic activity of procuring illicit and graphic video content, its advertisement and sale through the use of intermediary platforms, the petitioners have urged the Court to direct that the government notify and enforce the Information Technology [Intermediary Guidelines (Amendment) Rules] 2018.

Moreover, in the interest of protecting children, the petitioners also seek directions for the authorities to work in collaboration with the Ministry of Women and Child Development for upgrading the National Education Policy to include sex education as part of the curriculum alongside subjects concerning online safety.

Seeking a wholesome relief on the issue, the petitioners have sought for an amendment of existing laws or for the formulation of gender-neutral laws to penalise and criminalise revenge porn and similar acts.

It is further urged that the authorities be directed to lay down a suitable framework to regulate the access to internet for minors.

Importantly, the laws must ensure there is a system and mechanism in place for the verification of social media profiles to enable the weeding out of fake and catfish profiles that primarily engage in such activities, the plea says.

This petition is filed by two law students who have approached the Supreme Court after their representation highlighting these issues made to the Government's cybercrime wing did not receive any response.

The plea raises concern over the mushrooming of online profiles and accounts which engage specifically in trading and dealing with illicit and graphic content and which engage in the circulation of revenge porn etc. These accounts get high engagement from other accounts garnering more traction, thereby making it important to curb the same, it is said. The plea adds,

"These accounts are getting endorsed on troll and meme pages which have huge following and thus are being accessed by public at large. They also send ‘follow requests’ to random people on social media as a means of advertisement and promotion. They have also been posting comments on the posts of public figures inviting people to subscribe to their illegal services."

There is not only a need for educating people about such online conduct but also for laws and requisite mechanisms to be brought in place to curb and penalise this menace, the petitioners argue.

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