–By Snehi Suryash
A PIL has been filed before the Supreme Court seeking formulation of an efficient mechanism to avert the menace of fake social media accounts. And also to prevent circulation of obscene, illegal content online.
The petition sought for an age-based access control to social media. It also seeks to devise a profile verification mechanism to eliminate illicit content on social media.
About the petitioners
The petition has been filed by Skand Bajpai and Abhyudaya Mishra, law students of New Law College, Bharathi Vidyapeeth Deemed University, Pune. They say that this petition became imperative when no satisfactory action was taken on their June 9 complaint to cybercrime.gov.in with regard to illicit content being traded on social media.
Preventing the circulation of illegal contents
The petitioners have prayed before the court to institute proper investigation on the matter. The legal proceedings to be initiated against the users of the fake social media profiles. The same were indulged in the advertisement, sale and procurement of illicit content (CSAM, rape videos) and private graphic information.
They have also urged the Court to direct the concerned authorities to delete such illegal content. And to formulate an efficient mechanism to deal with such content in the future.
Further they seek formulation of a gender-neutral legislation, or an amendment to the existing laws to expressly criminalize revenge porn, morphing and impersonation.
Enhancing accountability and deter the potential offenders
It is asserted that the intermediary platforms, that carry such illicit content, should be made accountable, so as to deter such activities.
The petitioners have sought directions to devise a mechanism for verification of these social media profiles. As multiplicity of accounts and unverified profiles promote anonymity and impersonation. It makes it gruelling for the law enforcement agencies to trace a cyber offender. Also to curb fake social media profiles including catfish accounts.
Verified social media profiles would encourage accountability and deter individuals from engaging themselves in offences in the virtual world.
Need for introducing new laws or amendments to the existing laws
In order to bring a change in the mindset of the people the petitioners have prayed for upgradation of the education policy for inclusion of efficient and mandatory adolescent sex education to remove the social taboo surrounding sex and sexuality.
In order to curb incidents of morphing pictures and videos online and engaging in revenge porn, the petitioners have further urged the court for a gender-neutral legislation. And to criminalise impersonation to protect the identity of individuals.
Regulation to prevent minors to access social media
The Petitioners have also raised the issue of unchecked access to social media available to children. Petitioners have also put forth that, while, developed countries such as the US have laws governing age eligibility for using social media, there is no such law in India.
Further it was prayed to formulate an appropriate law regulating any minor’s access to social media. And to lay down appropriate age limit for such access in consonance with the present Indian legal framework.