Failure to Respond to a Claim of Online Extortion: Uttarakhand High Court Imposes Fine on Facebook

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The Uttarakhand High Court imposed a fine on Facebook on failure to respond to a claim of online extortion. 

Background 

The grievance of the petitioner is that someone has uploaded a morphed video, containing obscenity involving the petitioner, and the same has also been circulated. The petitioner complained about the same to respondent Facebook. 

Arguments 

Advocate Abhijay Negi, appearing for the petitioner, submitted that the Information Technology (Intermediary Guidelines and Digital Media Ethics Code) Rules, 2021 have been framed by the Central Government in exercise of powers conferred by subsection (1), clauses (z) and (zg) of sub-section (2) of section 87 of the Information Technology Act, 2000 superseding the Information Technology (Intermediaries Guidelines) Rules, 2011, which obliged the publisher – which would include respondent Facebook to act in terms of the grievance redressal mechanism and self regulating mechanism contained in the aforesaid Rules. However, respondent has not acted in terms of the said grievance redressal mechanism and the complaint of the petitioner has fallen on deaf ears.    

Court Order

The division bench of the Chief Justice Vipin Sanghi and Justice Ramesh Chandra Khulbe noted that respondent is not complying with the aforesaid Rules, which are statutory in character and bind respondent. 

The court while granting four weeks’ time to respondent to file its counter-affidavit, which should also disclose the steps taken by the said respondent to comply with the aforesaid Rules, subjected respondent to costs of Rs.50,000/- out of which, Rs.25,000/- shall be paid to the petitioner and the remaining amount shall be deposited with the Uttarakhand High Court Bar Association.

Case title: Alok Kumar v/s Union of India and others 

Citation: Writ Petition(PIL) No. 151 of 2021

Date: 07.12.2022 

Click here to read the Order/Judgment

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