A new world of cyberspace has emerged as a result of the quick development and evolution of technology. The ability for individuals to access and retain their private data has increased dramatically as information technology around the world has developed. Social media’s emergence has made it possible for people to communicate with one another regardless of their personal or professional interests.
In the past, we could depend on a variety of print media mediums, including newspapers, radio, and television. However, in today’s time, social networking has become an essential component of our daily life. By enabling us to produce our own content and then share it all with our friends, it has completely changed our lives. Unfortunately, this has resulted in the unavoidable exploitation of this technology, which has led to a number of domestic and international cybercrimes. Therefore, it is crucial that the government has the right resources to safeguard the privacy of personal data.
Social Media Laws
Depending on the circumstances, social media law offers a civil or criminal remedy to safeguard the illegal content. Legal protections for social networking sites are frequently greater than those for their users. This covers social media, blogs, microblogs, vlogs on YouTube, wikis, and other online publications. They provide access to various content for users all over the world or to a select number of information-provider websites in order to raise awareness and provide a forum for citizens to express their thoughts without restrictions.
Indian Position On The Laws
- Article 19 of the Indian Constitution guarantees certain freedoms that the State cannot curtail and are important to every Indian citizen. The right includes the freedom of speech and expression under clause (a), which is the most debated right ever and is vigorously exercised by Indian citizens, although it is subject to some justifiable limitations, as stated in Article 16 (2) since this right is not sacrosanct.
- Information Technology Act of 2000—Section 66A of this law, which is also quite contentious, forbids and punishes any offensive behaviour that is committed by audio, video, or records that causes harm to others. One of the key cases that exemplifies the core of Section 66A and its effects on the general public is the case of Shreya Singhal. Despite the Supreme Court’s decision to invalidate the Act, people continue to face penalties under it. 11 courts are now hearing more than 745 cases that were tried under Section 66A of the Act of 2000.
- Sections 124A, 153A, 295A, 499 with 505, 506 of the Indian Penal Code of 1860 discuss the offences of sedition, promoting enmity, intentionally insulting religion, defamation, public mischief, and insulting the modesty of women, and provide remedial actions to be taken in the case where there is damage to oneself.
Landmark Judgements In India
Shreya Singhal v Union of India
Sections 66(a) and 69(a) of the Information Technology Act were contested in this case on the grounds that they violated Article 14 and Article 19(1)(a) of the Indian Constitution. The court ruled that there was no Intelligible Differentia —a difference that might be understood—between the parties.
There is no distinction between the internet and other information delivery channels. In this historic decision, the supreme court held that section 66(a) of the IT act should be repealed because it violated article 19(1)(a) of the constitution’s guarantee of freedom of speech and expression and was not shielded by article 19(2), that imposes reasonable restrictions. According to Sc, the phrases employed in section 66(a) of the law are open-ended, imprecise, and unconstitutionally broad.
The rights of free expression, dissent, and information are all violated by this provision. In addition, the court stated that this act had “no proximate nexus to public order” and had failed to pass the “clear and present danger test,” or US doctrine, which asks if a word’s use is harmful or likely to cause chaos that the government has a duty to stop. It is a matter of proximity and intensity.
Arnab Manoranjan Goswami v State of Maharashtra
A journalist for the republic media network was sued for defamation after he claimed that he had “provocatively” questioned statements made by “a member of the Congress regarding India’s COVID-19 testing procedures and the unfortunate killing of 3 people [including 2 priests] in Palghar on April 16, 2020.” In contrast, he contended that free speech protections cannot apply to utterances that incite a racial or social disturbance. He continued to defend himself by asserting that there was very little likelihood that any of his remarks would spark riots among different ethnic groups.
International Position On The Laws
- NetzDG – In Germany, a method was developed to help identify illegal activity in the network, which would then be eliminated by the authorities within 24 hours. Furthermore, failing to remove such content would result in a 50 million euro fine for the corporation.
- The terror film that was posted online is the major focus of the recent development in the European Union. These programmes must adhere to the general data protection requirements, and if the authority is not able to have the content removed, they risk paying hefty fines.
- The Online Safety Act 2015121 was established to prevent social media firms from harassing users and promoting unlawful activity in Australia. When such content is published and not deleted within a reasonable time, a penalty of up to 525,000 Australian Dollars may be imposed.
- Twitter, Google, and WhatsApp have all been outlawed in Russia and China, which has also shut down 733 websites and 9,382 servers of mobile apps in order for the population to access the messages which are restricted and for the cyberattacks to decrease in their particular regions. Russia even cut its links to the Internet in an emergency in November 2019.
Need For Social Media Laws
The media is viewed as “the fourth pillar of democracy” in India. Considering the judicial, executive, and legislative arms of government are using the same regulatory framework as India. There are now no particular laws in effect in India, despite the fact that some press restrictions are crucial. Despite the fact that the constitution does not contain a separate article on media, freedom of speech and expression is covered in article 19(1)(a).
The media must be useful since we live in a highly technologically advanced world where information spreads swiftly and is not affected by distance. One erroneous or inaccurate story could have a detrimental effect on society, ignite riots, or inflame animosity among the public. In India, where individuals from various cultures and religions live, it is the duty of the media to present the truth, but they must also refrain from disseminating incorrect information and politicising stories to gain popularity. It is imperative to impose some fair limitations that protect a media professional’s freedom of expression while also preventing him or her from inciting hatred or causing social difficulties.
Challenges In Implementation
The media is governed by numerous laws and regulations in India. Regulation is crucial since it is one of the industries that is regarded as developing and has as its goal the public and national interest. As laws are essentially created for the benefit of people, three aspects are taken into account every time one is created: the law, the economy, and psychology. Additionally, there are growing concerns about the necessity to establish a unified legislative framework to regulate all forms of media since the media is currently one of the industries with the greatest rate of growth.
We have problems regulating the media, though, as there are many media outlets in India. By expressing their passion for it personally, they defend it. Self-regulation is upholding the right to free speech without resorting to censorship or self-censorship but rather setting fundamental moral and ethical criteria. However, there are discussions of creating a particular legal framework in India to control the media.
Technology and the threat of cybercrime are omnipresent in the world we live in today. The necessity for additional legislation cannot be ruled out despite the fact that there are several enacted to protect victims of cybercrime or crimes connected to social media. The right to be forgotten should be established by the government to provide individuals in various European nations more control over their personal data. In addition, tough measures should be implemented against wrongdoers to lessen the effects of cybercrime.
 Iplf. (2022, December 22). Development of laws and their implications on social media. Retrieved January 20, 2023, from https://www.ipandlegalfilings.com/development-of-laws-and-their-implications-on-social-media/#:~:text=In%20IPC%20sections%20like%20153A,insult%20religion%20or%20religious%20beliefs.
 Admin, By, Admin, P., . . . 24, J. (2022, August 05). Social Media Laws in India. Retrieved January 20, 2023, from https://legallyflawless.in/social-media-laws-in-india/
 JusCorpus, JusCorpus / About AuthorMore posts by JusCorpus, & JusCorpus, M. (2022, October 03). Social media laws and its implications in relation to other laws. Retrieved January 21, 2023, from https://www.juscorpus.com/social-media-laws-and-its-implications-in-relation-to-other-laws/
 Law, F. (n.d.). Information technology act, 2000 (IT act) is a primary law in India for dealing with matters related to e-commerce and cybercrime. Retrieved January 21, 2023, from https://www.freelaw.in/legalarticles/Social-Media-Laws-and-its-Implications
By: Tanya Singh, a student Rajiv Gandhi National University of Law.
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