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Supreme Court snaps WhatsApp link for virtual hearings

The Indian Supreme Court has stopped using WhatsApp to share video conference links for court hearings (IANS)

The Supreme Court has decided to stop the practice of using WhatsApp groups to share video conference links for court hearings.
The Supreme Court registry issued a circular on Saturday stating that instead of WhatsApp, the links for virtual court hearings in the top court will be shared on registered email IDs as well as SMS on registered mobile phone numbers of the advocates-on-record in the case and party-in-person.
The step was taken in the wake of the newly notified Information Technology (Guidelines for intermediaries and Digital Media Ethics Code) Rules, 2021 (IT Rules, 2021).
"It is notified for the information of the Advocates-on-Record/Party-in-Persons that the creation of groups in WhatsApp for sharing of VC links for hearing of their matters is restricted/barred due to
new guidelines or regulations issued by government of India pertaining to social media Apps and OTT platforms,” the circular states.
It said the VC links will be shared "with effect from March 1, 2021 through registered email IDs as well as by SMS on registered mobile numbers of the Ld. Advocates-on-Record / Party-in-Persons".
The government on Thursday announced sweeping regulations for social media firms like Facebook and Twitter as well as OTT players.
The guidelines also make it mandatory for platforms such as Twitter and WhatsApp to identify the originator of a message that authorities consider to be anti-national and against the security and sovereignty of the country.
The government had on Thursday announced new rules to regulate social media giants such as Facebook, WhatsApp and Twitter and video streaming OTT platforms like Netflix and Amazon Prime.
IT Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad also told reporters the rules would oblige the companies to reveal the originator of a message or posting when asked to do so through a legal order.
Social media sites have to remove or disable offensive or illegal content within 36 hours of being notified or of a court order.
The rules have been in the making since 2018 and have been announced but come shortly after Twitter ignored government orders to drop inflammatory content on farmers’ protests.
A detailed version of the guidelines is to be published later and take effect three months after that, the government said. But it did not specify the exact date.
The rules will also require video streaming platforms like Netflix and Amazon Prime to classify content into five categories based on users’ age, the government said.
The rules stipulate self-classification for streaming services on content that is for 13-plus, 16-plus or adults on the basis of age sex, violence and nudity. A mechanism for ensuring children do not
access content not approved for them.