The Centre on Tuesday informed the Supreme Court that new rules for social media will be roped in by January 2020 to regulate anti-national, defamatory posts, and fake news. The rules will be finalised by January 15, the Centre said. In addition, the Supreme Court transferred all pending cases to itself from the Madras, Bombay, and Madhya Pradesh High Courts. The cases are related to linking social media to Aadhaar and sharing of decrypted data present on social media.
The bench headed by justices Deepak Gupta and Aniruddha Bose, while allowing the transfer petition of Facebook, asked the registry to place all connected matters before the Chief Justice of India for listing before an appropriate bench in last week of January 2020.
Facebook and Whatsapp seeked the transfer of cases to the apex court considering that personal details of the users are involved. In addition, the national security factor is also involved. The top court also asked the Centre to submit its report in January on the notification of rules by which social media misuse can be checked and liability could be fastened on intermediaries to decrypt messages. The bench's order came after Attorney General KK Venugopal, appearing for Tamil Nadu, dropped his opposition to Facebook's plea seeking transfer of all cases pending in different high courts to the apex court.
Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, appearing for the Centre, clarified that it is not a ploy to breach the privacy of individuals but it is an attempt to protect national security and sovereignty. Mehta rubbished the claim of some petitioners who alleged that the draft rule under consideration of the government, which would enable authorities to fasten liability on intermediaries to trace the originator of a particular message or a content, is a ploy to "trample individual's privacy".
(With agency inputs)