Centre wants Supreme Court to get tough with FB, YouTube

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Finding the efforts by Internet giants to curb circulation of online videos of sexual violence against women and children inadequate, the government is likely to seek “stricter directions” to service providers, such as Facebook and YouTube, from the Supreme Court.

The directions sought will include considerably reducing the time taken by the intermediary to comply with content removal requests under certain Sections of the IT Act to less than 10 hours from about 36 hours at present, an official source said.

Monitoring tools

The government also wants that the service providers be asked to employ agencies for identification and removal of sexually violent content, particularly videos relating to child pornography and rape, besides deploying “proactive monitoring tools.”

This was discussed during a high-level meeting earlier this week to firm up recommendations on removal of sexually violent content, particularly videos relating to child pornography and rape.

The meeting, chaired by Home Minister Rajnath Singh, was attended by Electronics and IT and Law and Justice Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad, National Security Adviser Ajit Doval and Director of the Intelligence Bureau Rajiv Jain.

Tracking the origin

During the meeting, while evaluating the progress on previous Supreme Court orders in this regard, it was found that the compliance by the service providers was mediocre.

Additionally, the government is also keen on intermediaries sharing certain data with law enforcement agencies to identify the origin of such content.

The issue of tracing the origin of “unlawful” content is already a bone of contention between the government and WhatsApp, which was recently pulled up by the Centre after being misused to spread fake news.

“Intermediaries should be asked to keep a complete trail of forwarding of unlawful content…and verify and maintain identifiers of the users that can help attribute information to the users,” the source added.

Currently, on the issue of assistance to law enforcement agencies on identification of offender, the response is “often delayed and meta data of end to end communication is not provided…They need to ensure 100% compliance as far as requests from law enforcement agencies are concerned.”

In October last year, the Supreme Court gave several directions for removal of sexually violent content from the Internet. Ministry of Home Affairs was later tasked with monitoring compliance on some agreed action points by both the government and the service providers. The on going proceedings in the matter started after Supreme Court took suo moto note of a letter by a NGO on rampant circulation of sexual abuse videos.

The source said that government has compiled a keyword repository of over 500 English and Hindi words. “These have been shared with the intermediaries so that they can issue warning message for searching about child pornography or rape and gang rape videos. We have seen only partial compliance by the internet giants.”

Likewise, on earlier instruction to set up an easy reporting mechanism for public on their platform, “Facebook has complied partially, while Whatsapp and Twitter are yet to comply.”

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