Plea to remove groups like Bois locker room from social media; HC seeks Centre, platforms' reply
The Delhi High Court Tuesday sought response of the Centre on a plea seeking directions to it to ensure social media platforms like Facebook and Instagram remove illegal groups such as 'Bois Locker Room', "for the safety and security of children" in cyberspace.
A bench of Justices Rajiv Sahai Endlaw and Sangita Dhingra Sehgal issued notices to the Union Ministry of Home Affairs, Information Technology Ministry and Finance Ministry.
It also sought response from Facebook, Google and Twitter asking them to indicate their stand on affidavit by the next date of hearing on July 14.
The order came on the application moved by former RSS ideologue K N Govindacharya "highlighting the unlawful nature of illegal groups" like 'Bois Locker Room'.
"Due to the negativity, fake news and illegal content many young lives are destroyed. Such groups are criminal in nature and do not deserve any protection of free or creative speech," advocate Virag Gupta, appearing for Govindacharya, argued before the bench.
The petition, filed through advocate Gaurav Pathak, further contended that "the incident of 'bois locker room' on Instagram shows one of the vilest forms of social media".
Central government standing counsel Anurag Ahluwalia accepted notice on behalf of the ministries.
Govindacharya, in his plea, has further claimed that most of such groups are focused on pornography, nudity, graphic violent content, rave parties and other topics which are illegal and against community standards.
The application has also contended that most of the content on such groups are also in violation of terms of agreements of social media companies like Instagram, Facebook, Snapchat and TikTok. However, they take no steps to remove such groups, it further claimed.
It further argued that during the COVID-19 related lockdown, the world moved online and invariably, with increased access to internet, more and more minors have joined social media, and this includes children who are less than 13 years of age.
"It is most humbly submitted that it is our collective responsibility to ensure a safe cyberspace for our children," the application has said.
The application was filed in Govindacharya's main petition seeking removal of fake news and hate speech being circulated on social media and online platforms like Facebook, Twitter and Google.
The main petition, which has also sought details about the designated officers of these platforms, is listed for hearing on July 14.
The petition has alleged that social media platforms “have become a haven for hate speech” and in the absence of details of designated officers, there is “no clear mechanism to enforce justice”.