Prajwala Letter Case – A step towards Intermediary Guidelines, 2021

Recently, PIB (Press Information Bureau) has clarified via its publication dated 20th June, 2021 that the Supreme court had directed the government of India to frame necessary guidelines to eliminate the child pornography and related contents in online platforms and other applications. Therefore, in accordance with this judgment the GOI came up with Information Technology (Intermediary Guidelines and Digital Media Ethics Code) Rules, 2021.

Now in this article we shall discuss this PIL case briefly along with some crucial facts.

Case Name:               Prajwala Letter dated 08.02.2015 Videos of Sexual Violence and Recommendation (22nd October 2018 SC)

Coram:                     HON’BLE MR. JUSTICE MADAN B. LOKUR

                                    HON’BLE MR. JUSTICE UDAY UMESH LALIT

Amicus Curiae      Ms. N.S. Nappinai

Facts: Prajwala is an NGO based in Hyderabad which is devoted exclusively to the eradication of forced prostitution and sex trafficking.

On 18th February 2015 the letter was received by the Hon’ble Supreme Court from NGO-Prajwala pursuant to the videos of sexual violence circulated on social media platforms.

Subsequently, on 22nd March, 2017 court passed an order to constitute a committee in order to assist and advise the court for ensuring the non-circulation of videos depicting rape, gang rape and child pornography and made it completely unavailable for the circulation. Obviously, the very aim of such a committee was to protect the identity and reputation of the victims and circulation of such videos cannot be in public interest at all.

The committee was formed under the chairmanship of Dr. Ajay Kumar and 20 other people participated in the deliberation of the committee and 8 other experts. 

We would like to reproduce some recommendation of the Committee herein-

  1. Government of India may work with the represented companies as well as civil society organizations to suggest expansion of the list of key words for showing CP warning ads/Public service message on search.
  2. The Committee agrees that there is a need to create a Central Reporting Mechanism (India’s hotline portal), as has been done in other countries, like in the U.S. with NCMEC.
  3. Further there is a need to strengthen law enforcement in this area.
  4. Internet companies should provide technical support and assist in capacity building to the relevant agencies in India including law enforcement and NGOs through a series of training on online crime investigations, and trainings on using relevant internet tools.

Thereafter, on 11th December 2018 MeitY filed an affidavit. Order stated that the GOI may frame the necessary guidelines/SOP and implement within 2 weeks in order to eliminate child pornography, rape, gang rape imageries video, and sites in in content hosting platforms and other applications.

By reading the facts and circumstances it is evident that the Intermediary guidelines are somewhere the product of this landmark decision of Hon’ble Supreme Court. In the above stated facts and circumstances we would welcome our readers’ thoughts, comments and/or any opinion. 

References- (Picture Credit)