The Supreme Court Thursday said the Centre and Internet giants, including Google, Microsoft and Facebook, were in agreement that videos of rape, child pornography and objectionable material needed to be "stamped out".
A bench of Justices Madan B Lokur and U U Lalit noted that intermediaries have "different reactions" to suggestions given earlier by the Centre, which included setting up pro-active monitoring tools for auto-deletion of unlawful content by deploying artificial intelligence based tools.
"Insofar as the suggestions given by the Union of India as mentioned in the order dated November 28, 2018 are concerned, it appears that each of the different entities have a different reaction to them. Google and YouTube have one reaction. Facebook, Microsoft and WhatsApp each have different reactions," the bench said in its order.
It said each of these entities would give a proposed or draft standard operating procedure (SoP) for the purpose of implementation of the suggestions given by the Centre.
"Everybody is agreed that the child pornography, rape and gang rape videos and objectionable material need to be stamped out. The proposed/draft SoP will be drafted on this premise," the bench said.It directed that the draft SoP be filed in the apex court on December 10 and its copies be served to the counsel appearing for the Centre, petitioner and the lawyer assisting it as an amicus curiae.
During the hearing, senior counsel Kapil Sibal, appearing for WhatsApp, told the bench that they have an end-to-end encryption technology due to which it would not be possible to remove the content.
The Centre had last month suggested to the court that the intermediaries should deploy trusted flaggers for identifying and deletion of unlawful content and also set up of 24X7 mechanism for dealing with requisitions of law enforcement agencies.
It had also suggested that there should be prompt disposal of requisitions of law enforcement agencies to remove unlawful contents.
The court was hearing a matter following a letter sent in 2015 to then Chief Justice of India H L 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.
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.
Meanwhile, according to a media report, an RTI has revealed that the government had been monitoring social media accounts of citizens for at least two years before the Supreme Court quashed a tender that would have allowed it to do so.
The report said the government had been monitoring citizens’ digital footprint through a social media communications hub of the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting.
The tender was floated in April this year to extend and upgrade the ministry’s already-running scheme for another year, until the 2019 general elections.