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DAILY NEWS ANALYSIS

GS-II :
  • 26 September, 2019

  • 3 Min Read

Peekaboo, guess who

GS-II: Peekaboo, guess who

Context

The Supreme Court, responding to a plea by Facebook, has expressed serious concern about the electronic Wild West that internet technology has opened up. It directed the government to file an affidavit within three weeks outlining a strategy to get social media platforms to share information with law enforcement without compromising the privacy of citizens.

What the court said

It asked why citizens must suffer being trolled and maligned with the impunity conferred by anonymity, and without hope of easy legal remedy.

What are the problems in handling the issue

  • The society has become eager to both give and take offence.
  • There are countervailing claims of different rights.
  • None of the stakeholders involved have practised fully ethical practices.
  • The government itself permits the rampant misuse and abuse of the law against citizens who speak out online.
  • Some governments have stooped to using the instrument directly against their own people.
  • Supreme Court ruling in Shreya Singhal vs Union of India said that “It is clear that Section 66A arbitrarily, excessively and disproportionately invades the right of free speech and upsets the balance between such right and the reasonable restrictions.” In the judges’ view, Section 66A suffered from the deficit of “vagueness”, encouraging arbitrariness.
  • The guidelines which the government is required to produce may be as arbitrary in practice, because perceptions of right and wrong are socially determined, rather than legally.
  • The social media platforms which would follow these guidelines have not consistently been ideal guardians of the balance between privacy and accountability.

Way Forward:

The court, has, over the years has expanded the contours of free speech. It may finally rely on existing laws and processes. If applied prudently and morally, they should suffice the purpose.

Source: Indian Express


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