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'No Control': India's Apex Court Berates Social Media Platforms for Spread of Fake News

© REUTERS / Lucy NicholsonYouTube logo at the YouTube Space LA in Playa Del Rey, Los Angeles, California, United States October 21, 2015.
YouTube logo at the YouTube Space LA in Playa Del Rey, Los Angeles, California, United States October 21, 2015. - Sputnik International, 1920, 02.09.2021
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The Indian Ministry of Information Technology recently came out with a new set of rules that have brought governing the social media platforms under its ambit. Global tech giants WhatsApp, Twitter, and Google have raised issues over the country's new guidelines on regulating the digital expanse.
India's apex court on Thursday slammed the lack of accountability among social media platforms for hosted content. 
Chief Justice of India (CJI) N.V. Ramana made scathing remarks against YouTube and web portals for spreading "fake news" in the absence of a regulatory mechanism.
"If you go to YouTube, so much is shown in one minute. You can see how much fake news there is. Web portals are not governed by anything", the Supreme Court bench comprising CJI Ramana and Justices Surya Kant and A. S. Bopanna said.
The CJI lamented that social media companies only listen to powerful people, not institutions.
"Twitter, Facebook, or YouTube, they never respond to us and there is no accountability. They only worry about powerful men and not judges, institutions or the common man", Chief Justice Ramana stated 
The top court slammed a few private media organisations for carrying content that has a communal tone. 
"Everything shown in a section of private media bears a communal tone. Ultimately, this country is going to get a bad name. Did you ever attempt to regulate these private channels", the court asked Solicitor General Tushar Mehta.
Mehta said that the federal government has come out with new Information and Technology Rules to tackle the issues flagged by the CJI.
"However, there are many petitions that are filed in high courts challenging the new IT rules. The federal government has filed a plea for transferring all these petitions to the Supreme Court", he added.  
The Supreme Court agreed to hear the federal government's plea after six weeks. The latter is seeking the transfer of petitions from various high courts to the apex court.
All these cases pertain to newly-enacted IT rules and are meant to regulate online content, including social media and web portals. 
The Information Technology (Intermediary Guidelines and Digital Media Ethics Codes) Rules were notified by the federal government on 25 February 2021. The new rules came into effect on 25 May of this year. 
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