Social media platforms must be held accountable for enforcing rights: Center to HC

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“The liberty and freedom of any individual cannot be hindered in the wake of technological progress”

“The liberty and freedom of any individual cannot be hindered in the wake of technological progress”

The Center told the Delhi High Court on Wednesday that social media platforms must be held accountable for ‘subjugating and supplanting fundamental rights like the right to freedom of speech and expression, otherwise it would have dire consequences. for any democratic nation”.

“It is humbly maintained that the liberty and freedom of any individual cannot be impeded or abandoned in the wake of social and technological progress,” the Department of Electronics and Information Technology (MeitY) said in a statement. affidavit.

The ministry’s submission came in response to a petition filed by a Twitter user whose account was suspended by the microblogging site for alleged violations of the platform’s guidelines.

The Twitter user said his account was suspended on February 24, 2022, for “ban circumvention” (creating an account when a similar account had previously been banned). The plaintiff said Twitter suspended his accounts without giving him an opportunity to be heard.

The Center said that when a major social media intermediary (SSMI) such as Twitter makes the decision to suspend all or part of a user’s account “of their own volition” due to their violation of the policy, they should provide a reasonable opportunity for the user to defend his side.

The exception, the Center said, where SSMIs could make such a decision includes “certain scenarios such as rape, sexually explicit material or child sexual abuse material, bot or malware activity , content related to terrorism, etc.”.

“If an SSMI fails to comply with the above, it may constitute a violation of the IT Rules 2021,” the Center said.

“Must respect the rights”

He said that social media platforms must respect the basic rights of citizens and must not delete the account itself or completely suspend the user’s account in any case. “Deleting all information or the user account should be a last resort,” he added.

“Only in cases where the majority of content/posts/tweets in an account are illegal can the platform take the extreme measure of deleting all information or suspending the entire account,” he said. said the Center.

“No platform or intermediary shall be permitted to infringe on the rights of citizens including but not limited to Sections 14, 19 and 21 guaranteed by the Constitution of India on the pretext of violation of the policies of the platform, unless it violates applicable law in force,” the Center reminded social media platforms.

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