Unable to invoke Article 19 rights, Meta does not hold public office: Delhi Hc Told

Social media company Meta Platforms, Inc, the parent organization of popular Instagram and Facebook platforms, told the Delhi High Court that the rights guaranteed under Section 19 (Freedom of Speech) of the Constitution of India cannot be invoked against it by a user and that it is a private entity which does not exercise any public function. In its affidavit filed in response to a written petition against an alleged deactivation of an Instagram account, the American company stated that the Instagram service is a free and voluntary platform, governed by a private contract, and that the petitioning user does not has no fundamental rights. to use it.

Several motions are before the High Court challenging the suspension and deletion of several user accounts by various social media platforms. In March, in response to another petition against the suspension of a Twitter account, the central government told the High Court that an individual’s liberty and freedom cannot be curtailed or given up in the wake of social progress and technology and that social media platforms must respect the basic rights of citizens and abide by the Constitution of India.

He had pointed out that a major social media intermediary must be held accountable for subjugating and supplanting fundamental rights like the right to freedom of speech and expression, otherwise it would have disastrous consequences for any democratic nation. In its affidavit filed in this case, Meta argued that it is under no obligation to perform any public duty and that when an action is brought against a user pursuant to the private contract between them, it results in a contractual dispute between two private parts. Whether its alleged enforcement actions were improper is governed by Instagram’s Terms of Service and Community Guidelines which constitute the private contract and Meta is therefore not subject to the written jurisdiction of the High Court under Section 226 of the Constitution, the social media giant said. The Petitioner’s attempt to have this Honorable Court invoke its jurisdiction in writs is particularly inappropriate, since the relationship between the Petitioner and Meta arises out of private contract and the alleged dispute at issue is contractual and Article 19 rights do not can be invoked against a private entity such as Meta, the affidavit said. Petitioner’s attempt to assert Section 19 rights against Meta, a private entity, is improper, contrary to law, and must be denied – Meta does not hold a public office that would make it subject to the written jurisdiction of this Honorable Court under Rule 226, he added.

In the affidavit, Meta further stated that, contrary to the petitioner’s allegations, it does not enjoy a monopoly in the field of information dissemination or exercise a sovereign function, and the law only requires that intermediaries offer the option of appealing after action has been taken against any account and not hearing them until action is taken.

The petitioner has not alleged any fact demonstrating that the Instagram service, or Meta itself, satisfies any of the above (civil service) tests. Rather, (i) Meta is not required to perform any public mission, (ii) the government exercises no control over the management of Meta or its day-to-day operation, and (iii) Meta does not s is not granted the exclusive right to carry on business, nor has Meta been granted monopoly status under the law, (iv) Meta does not perform any function similar to or closely related to the functions performed by the state in its sovereign capacity, and (v) Meta voluntarily provides the Instagram service and is not obligated to do so, the affidavit states.

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