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22 May 2018

SC slaps Rs 1 lakh fine on Google, Facebook and others over sex abuse videos case

The Supreme Court directed social media giants to file an affidavit before June 15 spelling out measures taken by them to curb sex abuse videos.PTI, May 21, 2018, New Delhi: The Supreme Court has slapped a cost of Rs one lakh each on internet giants like Google and Facebook for failing to file their replies on the steps taken by them to block videos of sexual offences on social sites.

A bench of Justices Madan B Lokur and UU Lalit noted that despite its specific order to Yahoo, Facebook Ireland, Facebook India, Google India, Google Inc, Microsoft and WhatsApp, they have not filed any document to inform it about the progress made.

The top court directed them to file an affidavit before June 15 spelling out measures taken by them to curb such videos and asked its registry to keep the amount in a fixed deposit for a short term.

“In our order dated April 16, we had required the parties before us, that is Yahoo, Facebook Ireland, Facebook India, Google India, Google Inc., Microsoft and WhatsApp to let us know the status of progress made pursuant to the recommendations accepted by these entities as mentioned in the report of the committee.

“None of these entities has filed anything to show us the progress nor any of these entities is ready with any response pursuant to our aforesaid order,” the bench said.

The Centre also informed the top court that the launch of the beta version of an online cyber crime reporting portal has been given up and now the portal in its final form will be launched on or before July 15.

“With regard to Portal Integration with Crime and Criminal Tracking Network & Systems, it is stated that this is likely to take about two months’ time and the Ministry of Home Affairs is coordinating with the States and the Union Territories in this regard.

“With regard to institutional mechanism at the central level, it is stated that there is some dialogue between the states and the ministry of electronics and information technology and other ministries in this regard. It is further stated that all these three activities will be completed on or before July 15, 2018,” the bench said.

The apex court also said that “more than sufficient time” has been taken by the ministry of home affairs to complete these tasks and directed it to complete the exercise by June 30.

The apex court was earlier informed that the ministry had identified keywords for child pornography, rape and gang rape content search and a list of keywords in English language has been compiled and circulated to content providers for further action.

It had directed the Centre to have a web portal ready by today to enable citizens lodge complaints on child sexual abuse, child pornography and gang rape videos.

The court was hearing the matter following a letter sent in 2015 to then Chief Justice of India HL Dattu by Hyderabad-based NGO Prajwala, along with two rape videos in a pen-drive. The court had on its own taken cognisance of the letter and asked the CBI to launch a probe to apprehend the culprits.

Earlier, cyber security officials, functioning under the CBI, had told the bench that the internet was a “wild highway” and blocking objectionable content at the source was a technical challenge for which clear guidelines needed to be issued to stop circulation of such material.

The NGO’s letter had also mooted the idea of maintaining a national sex offenders’ register which should contain details of persons convicted for offences like eve-teasing, stalking, molestation and other sexual assaults.

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