HC seeks govt's reply over removal of fake news, hate speech; issues notice

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The Delhi High Court on Wednesday sought the Centre's response on a plea seeking removal of fake news and hate speech being circulated on social media and online platforms like Facebook, Twitter and Google.

A bench of Chief Justice D N Patel and Justice C Hari Shankar issued notice to the ministries of Home Affairs, Finance, and Information Technology and three online platforms seeking their stands on the petition by former RSS idealogue K N Govindacharya.

The court listed the matter for further hearing on April 14.

Govindacharya, represented by advocate Virag Gupta, has also sought directions to the three platforms to disclose information about their designated officers in India as required under the Information Technology (IT) Rules.

He has urged the court to direct the ministries, represented by central government standing counsel Anurag Ahluwalia, to "take action immediately" for removal of fake news and hate speech being circulated through social media platforms.

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".

"Social media platform cannot become a tool for rioting, even as they claim freedom of speech and expression," the petition has contended.

It has further alleged that such platforms "have been misusing the idea of free speech and have not been complying with Indian laws".

It has also claimed that "such objectionable content" is a big source of revenue for social media companies.

"Despite many steps taken by the police, growing trend of hate speech on social media, has increased burden of courts. In absence of any action, hate speech continues to grow on social media.

"The results of the same are rioting and divisive society. Consequently, the general public faces hardship like postponement of exams, curbs on public transport, damage to public and private property, violence as well as impact on security of women and children," the petition has alleged.

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