New Delhi: Stating that Facebook and WhatsApp are unwilling to comply with Indian laws, the Tamil Nadu government has accused them of not rendering any assistance in the prevention and detection of crimes being perpetrated using social media.
Submitting its affidavit in the Supreme Court, the state government has contended that these companies have failed to appropriately address requests made by law enforcement agencies regarding the detection of crimes.
"These companies, instead of replying and providing information in a bona fide manner, have asked the authorities to send letter rogatories, etc., despite working on Indian soil, and have in all cases failed to provide complete information," said the affidavit.
Drafted by the state's Additional Advocate General Balaji Srinivasan, the affidavit compiled a list of 34 criminal cases in which WhatsApp failed to disclose "originator information", the state contended.
Some of these cases include the Pollachi molestation case, attempts to trace missing social activist T Mugilan, child pornography, and those dealing with cheating and fraudulent activities.
The state government argued that if Facebook and its subsidiary WhatsApp are allowed to continue without complying with and submitting to Indian law, it may result in breakdown of law and order. Tamil Nadu has requested the Supreme Court to lift its virtual stay on proceedings before the Madras High Court, where issues of regulation and compliance by these companies with the Indian laws are pending.
On a transfer petition by Facebook, the Supreme Court on August 20 had restrained the high court from issuing any orders on a bunch of cases there.
Facebook cited a few similar cases pending before the high courts of Madhya Pradesh and Bombay as well, arguing that instead of various high courts taking different views, the Supreme Court should transfer all the cases to itself and decide on the issue authoritatively.
While Facebook submitted in the apex court that one of the contentious issues related to the linking of social media accounts with Aadhaar, the Tamil Nadu government countered this claim by arguing that Facebook misguided the court. The affidavit said that the Madras High Court was concerned about compliance of social media companies with the Information Technology Act and other rules framed under it.
The state government has urged the apex court to modify its order and let the Madras High Court decide upon the issues since any delay would only result in increased lawlessness and greater difficulty in detecting and preventing crimes.
It said there is an attempt by Facebook and WhatsApp to not comply with the legal regime in India whereas the Madras High Court has embarked upon a consultative process so that 'originator information' can be traced by law enforcement agencies.
The Supreme Court will again hear the matter on Friday.