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Children addicted to social media, user age limit needed: Karnataka HC

The court noted that some content should not only be banned from the social media but from the internet

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BS Web Team New Delhi

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It would be suitable if an age limit was introduced for using social media akin to a legal age for drinking alcohol, the Karnataka High Court said on Tuesday. The court added that the school-going children are addicted to it.

A division bench of Justices G Narendar and Vijaykumar A Patil observed while hearing an appeal by X Corp (formerly Twitter) challenging the single judge order of June 30, which had dismissed its plea to the takedown orders issued by the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MeiTY).

MeiTY had, under Section 69A of the Information Technology Act between February 2, 2021 and February 28, 2022, issued ten orders directing the social media platform to block 1,474 accounts, 175 Tweets, 256 URLs and one hashtag. Twitter challenged the orders related to 39 of these URLs.

"Ban social media. I will tell you a lot of good will come. Today's school-going children are so addicted to it. I think there should be an age limit such as in Excise rules," Justice G Narendar noted, as reported by news agency PTI.

The court further said that "children maybe 17 or 18. But do they have the maturity to judge what is or is not in the interest of the nation? Not only on social media, but even on the Internet things should be removed, it corrupts the mind. The government should consider bringing in an age limit for the use of social media."

The court had also imposed a cost of Rs 50 lakh on X Corp.

X Corp's counsel argued that MeiTY had not informed the users about blocking their tweets and accounts, and even the company was forbidden from informing them. The HC asked the Centre, "You do not release the order. He is not permitted to reveal the order. How is he going to defend himself?"

The HC suggested that the Centre may have to tweak the rules a bit as it is at their discretion that X Corp is blocking the accounts of users, and the company cannot be left high and dry. However, the HC said, "When it comes to national security, everybody has to be on the same page."

When the counsel for the company argued that it had informed which order of MeiTY it could comply with and which it could not, the bench said X Corp could not be the judge. The court said the X Corp "cannot be given the right to judge the content. If the content says 'Apple a day keeps the doctor away', you will interpret that as being against the doctor and the interest of the nation?"

The hearing of the case was adjourned to Wednesday, when the HC will decide on the interim relief sought by X Corp. The hearing of the appeal will be heard after that.

(With agency inputs)

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First Published: Sep 20 2023 | 8:31 AM IST

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