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A division bench of Justice B D Ahmed and Justice Vibhu Bakhru also issued notice to US-based Facebook Inc and Google Inc to file their responses on a plea seeking directions for social networking sites to restrain children below 18 from having an account with them.
The court was hearing a plea that said children below 18 years are allowed to open an account with social networking sites including Facebook which is illegal as Indian laws do not permit it.
The bench said: “How the children below 18 years can have an agreement with any social network sites including Facebook. Union of India is directed to file an affidavit on the issue within 10 days.”
Both Facebook Inc and Google Inc are US-based entities and are hereby impleaded as respondents. Notices to be issued to the newly-added parties,” the court said while impleading both the foreign companies as parties in the case.
The court has posted the matter’s next hearing for May 13.
The court’s direction came on a public interest litigation filed by former Bharatiya Janata Party, an Indian political party, member K N Govindacharya.
Lawyer Veerag Gupta 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.
He added that the children below 18 are getting into an agreement with the social networking sites to open an account which is against Indian Majority Act, Indian Contract Act and also the Information and Technology Act.
It said that “on the basis of unlawful agreements, data of 50 million users is transferred to the US and used for commercial gains in violation of the right to privacy”.
The plea also sought order to recover tax from social networking websites, arising out of their internet-based business in the country.
Facebook said its fourth quarter revenue rose 40 per cent year-over-year to $1.59 billion in January this year.
The plea asked the court to direct the government to recover all “past and present” direct and indirect tax demands arising from business income from Indian operations of different social networking websites.