The Supreme Court on Tuesday asked the Centre to file an affidavit within three weeks detailing the steps taken by it to frame guidelines to curb misuse of social media and tracing the originator of information on social platforms.
A bench of Justice Deepak Gupta misuse of social media and tracing the originator of information on social platforms and Justice Aniruddha Bose also asked the Centre for a timeframe within which the process of deliberation and formulation of guidelines will be completed.
It said that misuse of social media has become "very dangerous" in the country and the government must come up with "strict guidelines" to deal with the issue.
It added that issues concerning tracing the originator of information on social media needed to dealt with while keeping in mind the "sovereignty of the State, privacy of an individual and prevention of illegal activities".
The top court was hearing a petition filed by Facebook for transfer of petitions pending in different High Courts across the country concerning the demand to interlink Aadhaar database with social media profiles for authentication of identity, to the top court.
Earlier, the apex court had asked Centre whether it was contemplating any move on framing some policy to regulate social media and linking of social media account of people with Aadhaar.
The Centre today told the Bench that it was in the process of deliberations and inviting suggestions on the same.
During the hearing, the Bench observed that3 neither the Supreme Court nor High Court is the right authority to frame guidelines to prevent misuse of social media and it can be done only by the government.
Complex issues like privacy are involved, the government should step in and make the guidelines, the court observed.
Speaking on the issue of traceability of WhatsApp message originator, Justice Deepak Gupta said, "It is dangerous how some of these technologies work. I was thinking of giving up my smartphone and going back to feature phones".
The court stated that while the State is powerful enough to protect its right, the issue of individual rights still needed to be discussed.
The court posted the matter for hearing on October 22.
Earlier, Facebook and WhatsApp had told the top court that the matter should be adjudicated by the Supreme Court and matter pending in Madras High Court and other High Courts be transferred to the apex court as any order passed against them will have global ramifications.
Tamil Nadu government had also filed an application in the apex court seeking direction to allow the Madras High Court to continue hearing the social media companies case relating to the traceability of online crimes.
The petitions in different High Courts also demanded to interlink the Aadhaar database with social media profiles for authentication of identity, to the top court.