File fresh affidavit over social network sites: HC to Centre

Last Updated: Monday, May 13, 2013 - 20:16

New Delhi: The Centre was today directed by the Delhi High Court to file a fresh affidavit on a plea questioning how children below the age of 18 years are allowed to open account on social networking sites including Facebook even though Indian laws do not permit it.
A bench of justices B D Ahmed and Vibhu Bakhru asked Additional Solicitor General (ASG) Rajeeve Mehra, Centre`s counsel, to file by May 22 the affidavit addressing specific queries raised in its earlier order as to how under age children have entered into agreements with social networking sites.

The order came after petitioner counsel Virag Gupta contended that the government in its affidavit has not mentioned anything about the query raised by the court in its earlier hearing.

He argued that the affidavit has stated that social networking sites do not permit children below 13 years of age to open accounts or access their websites.

They generally verify the age and obtain permission of parents of the children below 13 years of age as per the laws of the country (US) where they are registered and their server are located.

"However, the technology does not offer any techniques to verify the age of a person logging into the Internet and social media sites online," as per the affidavit.

The bench was hearing the plea of former BJP ideologue K N Govindacharya which also sought recovery of taxes from the websites on their income from operations in India.

The Centre`s affidavit said that M/s Google India Pvt Ltd and M/s Komli Media India Pvt Ltd, engaged by M/s Facebook Inc for its activity of advertising here, have been paying service tax but two US-based entities -- Facebook Inc and Google Inc -- are not supposed to pay tax as they have their business establishments outside India.

As per the affidavit, M/s Google India Pvt Ltd has paid service tax of more than Rs 32 crore and M/s Komli Media India Pvt Ltd has paid more than Rs 2 crore for the year 2012-2013.

Govindacharya, at present a patron of `Rashtriya Swabhimaan Aandolan, has in a public interest litigation (PIL) alleged that children below 18 are getting into an agreement with the social networking sites to open account which is against the Indian Majority Act, the Indian Contract Act and also the Information and Technology Act.

Due to non-verification of users, more than eight crore of Facebook users across the world were found to be "fake", which the website admitted before the US authority, the plea said.

The Government of India is not taking any action against the foreign companies which have their Indian operations, the plea alleged.

The petitioner also sought directions to the Centre and the two websites to "ensure proper accounting compliances as per RBI guidelines".

"Facebook`s gross revenue for previous year was USD 37 billion approximately but they are not paying due taxes to the Indian government," the petition claimed.

PTI



First Published: Monday, May 13, 2013 - 20:15

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