Law students move SC to regulate minors’ access to social media

According to the petitioners, minors are not aware of the consequences of their actions on social media, they are exploited and fall prey to online predators 

The petitioners want a legal framework that will set an age limit to access social media. Representational image: iStock.

The Supreme Court has asked for the Centre’s response to a petition seeking to regulate access of minors to social media. 

A three-judge bench headed by Chief Justice of India S A Bobde issued a notice to the Centre on the petition filed by two law students from Uttar Pradesh Skand Bajpai and Abhyudaya Mishra. 

According to the petitioners, minors are not aware of the consequences of their actions on social media. They are exploited on social media and fall prey to online predators, the petition filed in July said. 

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“There exists no law in India to regulate minors’ access to social media. Since minors are prone to exploitation and harassment for not being able to comprehend the consequences of their actions on social media platforms, they need to be protected by law,” the law students said, reported Hindustan Times. 

They wanted a legal framework that would set an age limit to access social media. The petitioners pointed out that most social media platforms allow access to children aged even 13 when, according to Indian laws, only a person who has turned 18 is considered a major. 

“As per the terms and conditions of Facebook, an individual aged not less than 13 years or any other lawful age as per law applicable can hold an account on their platforms. Individuals agree and provide consent for several conducts on such platforms. (But) the age of consent in India stands at the age of majority and, therefore, a minor’s consent is void ab initio (from the beginning),” the petition said, according to Hindustan Times.

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The petitioners also want revenge porn to be made an act of crime.

“There is a need to deter people from engaging in revenge porn. Several nation states have already expressly criminalised revenge porn. However, in India, there exists no gender-neutral legislation on this and revenge porn acts as a tool for coercion, exploitation and extortion,” the law students said.

The next hearing in the case is likely to be in December.

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