The Uttarakhand High Court (HC) recently imposed a fine of Rs 50,000 on Meta-owned Facebook for not filing its reply to a Public Interest Litigation (PIL), seeking guidelines to deal with online extortion and abuse, despite being given proper opportunity.
The HC observed that prima facie it appeared that Facebook was complying with Information Technology (Intermediary Guidelines and Digital Media Ethics Code) Rules, 2021.
A bench of Chief Justice Vipin Sanghi and Justice Ramesh Chandra Khulbe ordered: “The costs be deposited within three weeks. It is made clear that no further time shall be granted for this purpose.”
The court, however, acceding to the request made by the counsel for Facebook for granting further time, allowed four weeks to file a counter-affidavit, while stating it should also disclose the steps taken to comply with the IT Rules, 2021.
The PIL was filed last year seeking directions to the Central government, State government, police authorities and Facebook to frame guidelines to deal with online abuse. The plea also sought a direction to all respondent parties to coordinate amongst themselves to operate a 24×7 effective helpline number in Uttarakhand to deal with such cases.
The plea also demanded that Facebook and State authorities produce an action taken report before the court on the number of complaints they had received of online abuse.
The plea was filed by a man who had alleged that his morphed video had been uploaded by someone on Facebook and despite his complaint to the company, it had not acted on the grievance redressal mechanism and self-regulating mechanism contained in the IT Rules, 2021.
Facebook was served a notice in 2021, however, it failed to file any counter affidavit.
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