Need 3 months to notify guidelines for social media platforms, govt tells SC
The government stated the timeframe of 3 months in an affidavit filed to the Supreme Court in order to make inter-ministerial consultation for effective guidelines. MeitY said the complexity will have a significant impact on all stakeholders.
The Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MeitY) stated the timeframe in an affidavit it filed in the Facebook petition, where the social media company has sought the transfer of all cases pending against it to the top court.
The process to notify the rules, which requires the approval of the MeitY minister followed by the vetting by the law and justice ministry and clearance of the updated draft by MeitY, is likely to be completed by January 15, 2020. ET has seen a copy of the affidavit.
The matter is expected to come up for hearing on Tuesday.
In a previous hearing on September 24, the apex court had asked MeitY to file an affidavit in three weeks on the status of the intermediary guidelines and to place on record the stage of framing and notifying the rules.
In its affidavit, MeitY said in view of the complexity involved in the matter and the significant impact it would have on the functioning of all stakeholders including netizens, government departments, social media platforms, websites and mobile apps, a “conscious” and “bona fide” decision was made by the ministry to call for further inter-ministerial consultation so that effective, robust and comprehensive rules covering all aspects of the matter could be framed.
“As Internet has emerged as a potent tool to cause unimaginable disruption to the democratic polity, it was felt that the extant rules be revised for effective regulation of intermediaries, keeping in view the ever-growing threats to individual rights and nation’s integrity, sovereignty and security,” the affidavit said. “After collating and analysing all the details from stakeholder participation and inter-ministerial consultation, the deponent has bona fide belief that a further period of three months would be required for finalising and notifying the final revised rules in accordance with law.”
In August, Facebook and its WhatsApp unit sought the transfer of all petitions on linking social media accounts with Aadhaar from various high courts to the Supreme Court. While hearing the matter on September 24 and asking the government to notify the status on the intermediary guidelines the apex court had said that the main issue arising in the petitions is how and in what manner should the intermediaries provide information on the names of the originators of any message/content/information shared on the platforms.