Social media or social networking websites have become important part of our lives. In fact, the digital India vision of the Narendra Modi government would also rely heavily upon social media websites. Along with the benefits there are many shortcomings of use of social media websites as well. These shortcomings are not because of the websites themselves but due to their abuses and illegal use by third parties. Of course, social media websites are required to observe cyber law due diligence (Pdf) and Internet intermediary obligations in India.
Social networking law for India has always been a controversial topic. Even the Congress government was in favour of having a law for social media in India. However, we have neither social media laws in India nor a social media policy of India till now. Even the cyber law of India deserves to be repealed and a better cyber law is need of the hour. Meanwhile, the social media websites are being abused by criminal elements for their nefarious activities.
It is also true that politicians and influential individuals have been abusing the draconian cyber law of India to settle scores. Social media websites are important part of civil liberties like speech and expression and any unreasonable curbing of the same would violate the constitutional protections. This is the reason why the Supreme Court of India has ruled that senior police officer’s permission is required for arresting a person for posting objectionable contents on social media websites.
It has been reported that the Home Ministry of India is planning to take legal action against the individual who has spread rumour about Home Minister’s son misconduct at Facebook. We at Perry4Law suggest that the first thing should be to coordinate with Facebook to ascertain the Internet protocol address (IP address) of the individual who has posted the rumour. Once that is done, IP address must be tracked back to the person who has used it at the relevant time. Special care must be taken about any IP spoofing event.
Once the IP address is successfully tracked back to a particular individual, cyber forensics methodologies must be applied to gather evidence that is admissible in a court of law. This is more so as an IP address alone is not sufficient to arrest and convict a person for the alleged crime. Finally, a senior police officer’s permission would be required to arrest the accused as per the procedure prescribed by Indian laws and as per applicable Supreme Court guidelines.