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Focus: GS-II Governance

Why in news?

  • The Delhi High Court has issued a notice to Facebook Inc., which owns photo and video sharing social networking platform Instagram, on a petition seeking removal of pictures of a college student from porn sites which were lifted from Instagram.
  • The HC ordered Delhi police’s Cyber Prevention Awareness and Detection Unit (CyPAD) to submit a status report on the investigation.
  • Notices under Section 79(3)(b) of the Information Technology Act, 2000, were sent to Internet Service Providers (ISPs), they being the intermediaries that act as entry points for India, to block the offending content.

Difficulty in Completely removing Content from the Internet

  • It is easy to change the ‘hash value’ that is the ‘identifying elements’ of any content, when it is forwarded or moved from one platform to another.
  • This makes it impossible for an algorithm to identify and remove offending content from all places.

What is the Information Technology (IT) Act?

  • The Information Technology Act, 2000 is the primary law in India dealing with cybercrime and electronic commerce.
  • The laws apply to the whole of India. If a crime involves a computer or network located in India, persons of other nationalities can also be indicted under the law.
  • The Aim of the Act was to provide legal infrastructure for e-commerce in India.
  • The Information Technology Act, 2000 also aims to provide for the legal framework so that legal sanctity is accorded to all electronic records and other activities carried out by electronic means.
  • It also defines cyber-crimes and prescribes penalties for them.

Section 66A of IT Act – Struck down

  • Section 66A of the IT Act has been enacted to regulate the social media law India and assumes importance as it controls and regulates all the legal issues related to social media law India.
  • This section clearly restricts the transmission, posting of messages, mails, comments which can be offensive or unwarranted.
  • The offending message can be in form of text, image, audio, video or any other electronic record which is capable of being transmitted.
  • In the current scenarios such sweeping powers under the IT Act provides a tool in the hands of the Government to curb the misuse of the Social Media Law India in any form.
  • However, in 2015, in a landmark judgment upholding the right to free speech in recent times, the Supreme Court in Shreya Singhal and Ors. Vs Union of India, struck down Section 66A of the Information & Technology Act, 2000.
  • The judgment had found that Section 66A was contrary to both Articles 19 (free speech) and 21 (right to life) of the Constitution.
  • The repeal of 66A does not however result in an unrestricted right to free speech since analogous provisions of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) will continue to apply to social media online.

-Source: The Hindu

November 2023