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How To Control The Menace Posed By Social Media Post Offenders

Internet has become an inseparable part of our life. Just imagine , if on a particular day , internet connectivity is lost, then how our life is going to be miserable. Gone are the day when one had to wait for hours and hour in queue for getting electricity bill, telephone bills, Gas bills and making payment for them. Now its only a matter of second.Digital transactions has made life easy. Train Ticket Reservation can be done through mobile. Air ticket can be done. Even Amazon, Flipkart, Indiamart like e commerce websites have taken the marketing experience to a new height.

Thanks to internet and the technology based on internet. Every technology brings advantages along with disadvantages as well. With advent of internet era, cyber crimes has also become rampant. Private life has been compromised. Many individual informations are misused by cyber criminals. Though laws are there, but not sufficient enough to deal with all the cyber crimes. These gaps are most of the time filled by Judicial pronouncement.

One of such Judgment came from Hon�ble High Court of Delhi last month, i.e. in the month of 20th April 2021 by Hon�ble Judge Shri Anup Jairam Bhambhani. Title of the Case was X Versus Union of India. This was so because the identity of Lady which filed the Criminal Writ Petition, was not disclosed. It is normal practice to keep the identity of girl or a woman secret in such cases where such criminal offences pertain to lady and they are victim.

Facebook, Instagram, Whatsapp and other social websites are providing means for the user to mingle with their friend, family members. One user put his/her photographs , videos on these sites in order to share with their family members. Thanks to these social media platforms , because of many school friends are united. Many distant family members remain in touch with each other constantly because of these social media platforms. But one unscrupulous person may mis use such private information by putting it on a pornographic website. In one of such case was Criminal Writ Petition No. 1082 of 2020, which was filed before the Hon'ble High Court of Delhi.

It was filed by a Lady Petitioner (her name was kept secret) where by the Petitioner alleged in the court proceeding inter-alia that her photographs and images which she had posted on her private social media accounts on 'Facebook' and 'Instagram' have been taken without her knowledge or consent and have been unlawfully posted on a pornographic website called '' by an unknown entity called 'Desi Collector'. This was the basic grievance of the Petitioner on the basis of which that Criminal Writ Petirion was filed.

In the afore mention fact of the case, the matter was placee before the Hon�ble High Court of Delhi. The Hon�ble Court begun with Judgment while observing �The internet never sleeps ; and the internet never forgets �. The Court was having occasion to deal with such cyber crime in this case. The Petitioner invoked various provisions of Law inter-alia section 67 of the Information Technology Act 2000 and some other provisions of Indian Penal Code 1860. Prior to approaching the Hon�ble High Court of Delhi , the Petitioner had also filed complaint before National Cyber-Crime Reporting Portal. Not only this, even complaint were also made before the Local Police station.

The Question, which the Hon�ble Court formulated was this:
�Where a party seeks relief from the court to the effect that certain offending or illegal content be removed from the world- wide-web, what directions are required to be passed by a court to make its order implementable and effective; and to which parties are such directions required to be issued; ii. What steps are required to be taken by law enforcement agencies to implement such directions issued by a court to ensure that despite court orders/directions offending content does not 'resurface' or remain available on the world-wide-web at the instance of errant parties; and such parties do not succeed in brazenly evading compliance of such orders/directions with impunity.�

The Hon�ble Court was required to strike a balance between the social media web sites and the end user. What should be way through which interest of the social media web sites like facebook, instagram etc as well as the interest of user of such platforms can be maintained. The Hon�ble Court formulated few of such guidelines.

The court observed that the nature of complaint and offences alleged were to be seen. If Court find the offences alleged to be serious in nature then the court may inform the social media platforms to remove such offending contents within 24 hours of receipt of court direction. Other wise in other situation, the Court may formulate a time frame for removal of such offending content. Of course the social media platforms are expected to follow the direction of the Court within the stipulated time, other wise the consequences have to follow.

Second important issue was preservation of such offending contents. Preservation of such offending content is also necessary as these may be required to establish case against the offenders. Hence the such social media platforms are also required to preserve such offending contents at least for six months.

Thirdly the court also given the direction that such offending contents should remain non-searchable on the internet search engine. For this also direction are required to be passed against the internet search engine like Google Search, Yahoo Search, Microsoft Bing etc in each case.

Fourthly the concerned law enforcement agency , like the concern police station are also directed to obtain relevant information from concerned website relating to the offending content such as the URL (Uniform Resource Locator), account ID, handle name, Internet Protocol address. The social media platform were required furnish such information within 72 hours of such requisition from law enforcement agency.

These are few of the guidelines which were formulated by the Hon�ble High Court of Delhi while dealing with one of such cases where private information of social media user can be safeguarded.

Written By: Ajay Amitabh Suman: Advocate Hon'ble High Court of Delhi

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