The Centre on Monday asked the Supreme Court for three more months to finalise and notify rules for regulating social media in India, PTI reported. The Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology told the court that internet had become a potent tool for causing “unimaginable disruption to the democratic polity”.

The ministry said that although technology had aided economic growth and development, it had also given rise to hate speech, fake news, and anti-national activities. “As the internet has emerged as a potent tool to cause unimaginable disruption to the democratic polity, it was felt that the extant rules be revised for effective regulation of intermediaries, keeping in view the ever-growing threats to individual rights and the nation’s integrity, sovereignty, and security.”

The Centre made the remarks in an affidavit submitted to Justices Deepak Gupta and Surya Kant following Facebook’s petition for the transfer of cases filed in three high courts on the linking of social media accounts with Aadhaar. The social media platform has argued that the cases are likely to have national security implications and therefore should be decided by the top court.

In the last few years, a significant increase in social media usage had been witnessed due because of lower internet tariffs, last-mile connectivity, and increased access to smart devices, the Centre said in its affidavit. It also highlighted the need to rehaul the system of accountability for social media intermediaries, saying they need to be “more liable towards the content that is published, transmitted, etc on their platform”, News18 reported.

The ministry’s submission took note of the complexity of the matter and its impact on all stakeholders. It said more inter-ministerial consultation was required before an effective set of rules could be framed under the Information Technology Intermediaries Guidelines (Amendment) Rules, 2018.

The affidavit also listed the steps taken by the Centre since 2018 regarding draft revised rules. It said ministries such as home affairs, and women and child Development had been consulted on the matter.

On September 24, the Supreme Court had observed that technology had taken a “dangerous turn”, and asked the Centre to inform it within three weeks about the time needed to come up with the guidelines. The bench said neither the top court nor the High Courts were competent to decide the matter, and it was for the government to frame appropriate guidelines.

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