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In the case concerning the misuse of social media, the Supreme Court sought an affidavit from the Centre laying down the steps taken towards framing of guidelines on the issue. The affidavit is to be submitted within three weeks.
The Bench of Justices Deepak Gupta and Aniruddha Bose also sought a timeframe within which the process of deliberation and formulation of these guidelines will be completed.
The Court remarked that the issue concerning tracing the originator of information on social media needs to be dealt with keeping in mind sovereignty of the State, the privacy of an individual, and prevention of illegal activities. Neither the High Court nor the Supreme Court is the right forum to deal with the issue, Justice Gupta said. He further added that the government needs to step in and frame guidelines.
The Court was told that the Centre was in the process of deliberations and was inviting suggestions on the same.
As regards encryption of information on some platforms, Senior Counsel Kapil Sibal told the Court that only certain platforms like WhatsApp were end-to-end encrypted. Attorney General KK Venugopal, arguing for the State of Tamil Nadu, apprised the Court that a professor from IIT Madras has filed an affidavit before the Madras High Court, submitting that he can help deal with the issue of decryption on WhatsApp.
Facebook and WhatsApp were represented by Senior Counsel Mukul Rohatgi and Kapil Sibal respectively. Attorney General KK Venugopal and Solicitor General Tushar Mehta argued for the State of Tamil Nadu and the Centre respectively.
The Court will hear the matter next on October 22.
Meanwhile, the Madras High Court is expected to take the matter up next on October 1. The High Court had deferred the hearing again last Friday in view of Facebook’s plea to transfer the case to the Supreme Court. The main case pertains to a PIL kept pending to navigate ways in which online crime may be curbed with the assistance of social media companies.