In a significant development today, the High Court of Karnataka weighed in on the ongoing legal battle between X Corp (formerly Twitter) and the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MeiTY).
A division bench comprising Justices G Narendar and Vijaykumar A Patil expressed a noteworthy opinion during the proceedings, suggesting the implementation of an age limit for social media use, akin to the legal age for alcohol consumption.
Justice G Narendar, while addressing the court, made a thought-provoking statement: "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."
This assertion highlights concerns regarding the increasing addiction of young individuals to social media platforms and draws a parallel with age restrictions imposed on alcohol consumption.
The Court's Concerns and Ongoing Legal Battle
The court further delved into the matter, emphasising the need for safeguards in the digital realm.
They expressed concerns about the maturity of individuals, even at the age of 17 or 18, to judge what is in the best interest of the nation.
In this context, the court suggested that not only social media but also content on the internet should be subject to age limitations to prevent potential harm.
The legal dispute stems from MeiTY's issuance of 10 Government Orders under Section 69A of the Information Technology Act, which directed the blocking of 1,474 accounts, 175 Tweets, 256 URLs, and one hashtag between February 2, 2021, and February 28, 2022.
X Corp (formerly Twitter) challenged these orders, particularly those related to 39 URLs.
Additionally, the court imposed a significant cost of ₹50 lakh on X Corp.
X Corp's counsel argued that MeiTY had failed to inform users about the blocking of their tweets and accounts, leaving the company unable to inform affected users.
The court raised a pertinent question, asking how X Corp could adequately defend itself without the disclosure of these orders.
While acknowledging the government's role in deciding which accounts to block, the court also noted that when it comes to national security, unity is paramount.
The bench reminded X Corp that it cannot assume the role of content judge, emphasising that interpreting innocent content negatively, such as "Apple a day keeps the doctor away," could have unintended consequences.
The hearing of the case was adjourned to Wednesday, where the high court will rule on the interim relief sought by X Corp. Subsequently, the court will proceed with the appeal hearing.
This case has brought to light not only the legal intricacies surrounding social media regulation but also the broader societal debate on age restrictions in the digital age.
The High Court of Karnataka's call for age restrictions on social media usage marks a significant development in the ongoing legal battle between X Corp and MeiTY, shedding light on the complex issues surrounding digital governance and individual freedoms in the digital age.