Delhi High Court Grants Time for Government to Reveal Plans to Regulate De-Platforming of Social Media Users

The Delhi High Court on Wednesday granted time to the Centre to inform if it was drafting any regulations to govern the issue of de-platforming of users from social media. Justice Yashwanth Varma was hearing a batch of petitions concerning the suspension and deletion of accounts of several social media users, including Twitter users.

Central government counsel Kirtiman Singh urged the court to list the cases after two weeks to enable him to come back with further instructions concerning any draft policy on the de-platforming of social media users.

Senior counsel for one of the social media platforms said that in case such guidelines are formulated, the scope of proceedings before the court can be navigated accordingly.

The court listed the case for further hearing in September while asking the Centre to state its stand.

In its affidavit filed in one of the cases against the suspension of the petitioner’s Twitter account, the Centre has said that an individual’s liberty and freedom cannot be “waylaid or jettisoned in the slipstream of social and technological advancement” and the social media platforms must respect the fundamental rights of the citizens and conform to the Constitution of India.

It has said that social media platforms should not take down the account itself or completely suspend it in all cases and complete de-platforming is against the spirit of Articles 14, 19, and 21 of the Constitution of India.

Stating that it is the custodian of the users’ fundamental rights in cyberspace, the Centre has said that a social media account can be suspended or de-platformed only in cases such as in the interest of the sovereignty, security, and integrity of India, friendly relations with foreign States or public order or pursuant to a court order or the content is grossly unlawful such as sexual abuse material.

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