The matter came to light when a bench of Acting Chief Justice B D Ahmed and Justice Vibhu Bhakru were hearing a PIL questioning how children below 13 years of age can open an account on social networking sites like Facebook and Orkut. The court slammed the court for simply lacking any initiative,
“You [Centre] are lacking…. You are behind time.”
The court was able to make this scathing statement after the petitioner pointed out that in the US there is a law ‘Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA)’ as per which a child below 13 years of age is not allowed to open an account. The court simply asked the representatives of the Govt.,
“Do you have any such Act for online privacy? Nothing. You are not focused on this issue at all. The world has gone far ahead. We are way behind,”
Is the Central Government really to be blamed?
Based on the Petitioner’s findings, Governments, in developed countries, seem to be working towards building a safer & protective environment for kids using laws that mandate verification of age, as well as share the responsibility of child protection equally with the guardians.
However, India & the Social Media websites apparently have no way of actually verifying the age of the subscriber, a fact verified by the sites themselves when the Court had asked to submit affidavits detailing measures that are available on their sites as protection against misuse. Due to this shortcoming, the Petitioner was able to show to the Indian Courts that these websites had admitted about having more than 8 Crore accounts that could have been created using falsified age & credentials.
The youth everywhere are presently trying to get on the social media wave & apparently it is quite easy to manipulate the safeguards. What do you think is the solution, when these sites itself are luring the youngsters?
Image Courtesy | thenational