Delhi High Commission Seeks Response from Facebook
It can be hard being on top. According to Data Quest India, it seems Facebook might have some hard times ahead. Earlier today, the Delhi High Court asked how it is possible that children under the age of 18 are opening accounts on social networking sites including Facebook. According to Indian laws, minors are not permitted to open accounts on social networks. In addition to this, the court also asked the social networking giant to reply to a plea seeking an order for the recovery of taxes from the site’s income generated from their Indian operations. The Union of India is directed to file an affidavit on the issue within 10 days.
According to the Indian Majority Act, the Indian Contract Act and the Information and Technology act, children below the age of 18 years are not permitted to opening an account on a social networking site. However, the Delhi High Court heard a plea that said minors were indeed opening accounts. A division bench of Justice B.D. Ahmed and Justice Vibhu Bakhru issued notice to US-based Facebook Inc and Google Inc to file their responses on a plea seeking directions for social networking sites to refrain children below 18 from having an account with them. The court posted the matter's next hearing for May 13.
This all began when the court's direction came on a public interest litigation filed by former Bharatiya Janata Party ideologue K.N. Govindacharya. Govindacharya’s lawyer told the court that penalties should be imposed on social networking sites and other internet-based companies for non-verification of age of their users. According to Times of India, the lawyer stated that due to non verification of users, millions of Facebook accounts across the world were found to be fake and Facebook admitted this before the US authorities. Arguing that lack of monitoring makes minors vulnerable, the party further asks for the creation of a national register of persons indulging in sexual offences and heinous crimes and stopping such persons from joining social networking websites.
To cause further issues for Facebook, the plea also sought an order for the recovery of taxes on their income from Indian operations. As reported in Times of India, Facebook’s gross revenue for last year was $37 billion approximately but they are not paying taxes to the Indian government. According to New York Daily News, the social networking site is not paying due taxes on their Indian operations as per provisions of double taxation avoidance agreement and the government is not taking any action to safeguard the national interest and sovereignty of India.
Now that the High Court has put pressure on Facebook, the next thing to look out for is how the company will respond. Putting the tax payment aside, I need to ask, “Is there really a way to stop minors from getting on social networking sites?” How would you propose Facebook should handle this situation?
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