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SOCIAL MEDIA LAWS AND ITS IMPLICATIONS IN RELATION TO OTHER LAWS

INTRODUCTION

Social media is a primary platform where every individual and brand can engage and bring awareness to e-commerce in real-time[1]. The introduction of the LPG policy has brought big changes to the economy and the people surrounding such an environment. Media has played an important role in the world of commerce. It has helped millions to start their business or even for an entrepreneur to exist in the market. In the world of entertainment, social media has contributed to the highest like the most recent popular show known as Squid Game released on Netflix gained its popularity which nobody could ever imagine.

Social media has become an enormous platform where anyone from anywhere can communicate. The period of Covid-19 has made me realise to every person how powerful the media is. The most recent example is nowadays we see people making success in e-commerce transactions through Meta, formerly known as Facebook, which has become a part of their day-to-day lives. The Government announced its scheme of ‘Digital India’ to make electronic transactions a concept followed daily and has been successful since. The concept of ‘viral’[2] can grab the attention of anyone and spread across thousands of users. Thus, these advancements and how people are becoming used to such technological changes also bring explosive growth in the internet facilities used by unauthorized persons. Actions like hacking into a computer system, invasion of privacy, copyrights infringement, defamation, intellectual property fraud, etc.

MEANING OF SOCIAL MEDIA LAWS

Social Media law provides a remedy in both civil and criminal manner depending upon the case which protects the content that is prohibited. The professionals take the help of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act and Communication Decency Act to solve the problem surrounding cyberspace.[3] Social networking sites often have more protection than their users by way of law. This includes social networking, blogs, microblogs, vlogs and YouTube, wikis[4], etc. They allow different content to be accessed by people around the world or a few information-providing websites to create awareness and bring a platform where citizens can give opinions freely.

INDIAN LAWS REGARDING SOCIAL MEDIA

Constitution of India – Article 19[5] of our Constitution provides certain freedoms which are influential to every citizen of India that the State cannot curb. The right includes the Right to freedom of speech and expression under clause (a) which is the most debatable right that has ever been and is highly applied by the citizen of India but it comes with certain reasonable restrictions as mentioned in Article 16 (2) because the right is not absolute.

Information Technology Act 2000- Another highly controversial right under Section 66A[6] of the IT Act of 2000 brings prohibition and punishment to any offensive activity that is committed via video, audio text, or records that cause injury to others. The case of Shreya Singhal[7] is marked as one of the landmarks that highlight the crux of Section 66A and its impact on the general public. People are still being punished under the Act despite it being struck down by the Supreme Court. More than 745 cases have been tried under Section 66A of the Act of 2000 that are still pending before 11 courts.[8]

Indian Penal Code 1860- The Act provides remedial actions to be taken in the case where there is damage to oneself like Section 124A, 153A, 295A 499 with 505, 506[9] discuss the offences namely sedition, promoting enmity, intentionally insulting religion, defamation, public mischief and insulting the modesty of women. Indecent representation of women (prohibition) Act 1988[10]– Sections 3 and 4 protect the act of pornography and punishment under Sections 292-293.[11]

INTERNATIONAL LAWS REGARDING SOCIAL MEDIA

NetzDG – The procedure came up in Germany which would help track illegal activities in the network and which would be later removed by the authorities within 24 hours. Further, the company would have to pay compensation of 50 million euros if they fail to remove such content.

European Union – The development puts its main focus on the terror video uploaded in the virtual world. The general data protection regulations also set rules for such programs and if the authority is unable to delete such content then they are charged with heavy fines.

Online Safety Act 2015[12] This Act was created so that social media companies would not be able to harass and promote illegal activities in Australia. Subsequently are charged with a fine of up to 525,000 Australian Dollars when such content is published and not removed within reasonable hours.

Ban in Russia and China – These countries have banned Twitter, Google, and WhatsApp and have closed 733 websites, and 9,382 mobile apps so that the cyberattacks should lessen in their respective territories and that the citizens would see the messages that are censored. Russia even switched off its connections with the World Wide Web in November 2019 as an emergency.

[13]DIGITAL MEDIA LAWS THAT WE SHOULD KNOW

 Anti- SLAPP – The statute gives protection to the defendants for suits relating to frivolous offences that bring to the exercise of free speech.

Laws under the Americans with Disabilities Act[14]The Act is prevalent in the United States encourages and builds protection for disabled people and subsequently prohibits discrimination.

Computer fraud and abuse act as common-law trespass tort in the virtual world- There are acts of real property trespass even in the virtual world. Thus, this common law of torts helps to provide remedy and compensation for the victim.

 Digital Millennium Copyright Act[15]The Copyright Act brings the right to protect the work of authorship and sets out exclusionary rights with the help of such Act and provides limits to the liability of service providers.

Children online privacy protection Act (COPRA)[16]As the name suggests, the following Act provides a certain limit to the collection of personal information of children under 13 years of age.

 Federal Trade Commission- The Act covers the unfair trade policies around the world in e-commerce as well as in the real world. It permits investigations for such policies to punish those who avail.

 Lanham Act[17]It is simply an Act that protects trademarks and service marks.

 National Labor Relations Act[18]Each worker/employee must be provided with better working conditions in his/her workplace. Thus, this Act guarantees the rights of the employee to engage and participate in the activities that concern working in a safe and healthy workspace.[19]

CONCLUSION

Social media has been a bane and boon for the economy, where one helps you to connect with your dear ones while on the other hand people are becoming victims of cyber-attacks[20]. The issues of censorship, defamation, and communal and violent content are increasing day by day which has led to the establishment of various laws and statutes domestic and international. The world going digital has made it difficult for the authorities to control the published content which is established on a global scale. Thus, there is a need for the judicial system and the Government to make more stringent laws and punishments for the criminals who engage in unauthorized activities.[21]

Author(s) Name: Shaundarya Awasthi (Bharati Vidyapeeth New Law College, Pune)

References:

[1]‘Social Media Laws and Regulations; What You Need to Know’ (Proof strategies, 1 January 2018) <https://www.getproofusa.com/social-media-laws-and-regulations/>  accessed 20 June 2022

[2]Sejal, ‘Social media and Indian laws’ (Legal Desire, 10 May 2022) <https://legaldesire.com/social-media-and-indian-laws/> accessed 21 June 2022

[3] Winston & Strain LLP, ‘What is Social Media Law?’ (Winston & Strain LLP, 15 June 2022) <tps://www.winston.com/en/legal-glossary/social-media-law.html> accessed 21 June 2022

[4]Ibid

[5]Constitution of India 1950, art 16 (2) & 19 (a)

[6]Information Technology Act 2000, s 66A

[7]Shreya Singhal v. Union of India [2013] 12 S.C.C. 73

[8] Suneeta Hegde, ‘Information technology Act implications on social media and cybercrime’ (SSRN, 4 September 2021) <https://deliverypdf.ssrn.com/delivery.php> accessed 23 June 2022

[9]Indian Penal Code 1860, s 124A, 153A, 295A, 499, 505 & 506

[10] Indecent representation of women (Prohibition) Act 1988, s 3 & 4

[11]Sejal, ‘Social media and Indian laws’ (Legal Desire,10 May 2022) <https://legaldesire.com/social-media-and-indian-laws/ > accessed 21 June 2022

[12] Online Safety Act 2015

[13]Rudri Bhatt Patel, ‘Social Media and the Law 5 Things You Need to Know’ (Legal Zoom, 25 May 2022) <https://www.legalzoom.com/articles/social-media-and-the-law-5-things-you-need-to-know>  accessed 22 June 2022

[14] Americans with Disabilities Act 1990

[15] Digital Millennium Copyright Act 1998

[16] Children Online Privacy Protection Act 1986

[17] Lanham Act 1946

[18] National Labor Relations Act 1935

[19]Shristi Sinha, ‘Social Media Laws and its Implications’ (Aishwarya Sandeep, 1 March 2022) <https://aishwaryasandeep.com/2022/03/01/social-media-laws-and-its-implications/> accessed 22 June 2022

[20]Sejal, ‘Social media and Indian laws’ (Legal Desire,10 May 2022) <https://legaldesire.com/social-media-and-indian-laws/> accessed 22 June 2022

[21]Sidharthan R, ‘The Information Technology Act and Media Law’ (Legal service India) <https://www.legalserviceindia.com/legal/article-417-the-information-technology-act-and-media-law.html#:~:text=Section%2066A%20of%20the%20IT,can%20be%20offensive%20or%20unwarranted> accessed 22 June 2022