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Freedom to express: Supreme Court calls Section 66A of the IT Act unconstitutional

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By NewsGram Staff Writer

In a remarkable judgement, Supreme Court has called Section 66A of the Information Technology act unconstitutional.

The Supreme Court on Tuesday struck down Section 66A of the Information Technology Act holding it as a violation of Article 19(1)a of the Constitution, which guarantees freedom of speech.

“Section 66A of the IT Act is struck down in its entirety…,” said the apex court bench of Justice J. Chelameswar and Justice Rohinton Fali Nariman.

“Our Constitution provides for liberty of thought, expression and belief. In a democracy, these values have to be provided within constitutional scheme. The law (Section 66A) is vague in its entirety,” said Justice Nariman pronouncing the judgment.

“There is no nexus between public order and discussion or causing annoyance by dissemination of information. Curbs under Section 66A of the IT Act infringes on the public right to know.”

While some petitions have contended that the words, ‘offensive’  and ‘menacing’ in the Section are vague and can be misused to undermine the very foundation of democracy. On the other hand, the Government had claimed that the Section with its guidelines is a ‘ reasonable restriction’ the right to speech and expression.

Earlier, under Section 66A, any person sending ‘offensive’ messages from a computer or any other communication device like phone, tablet, laptop could be jailed up to a period of three years.

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Facebook Denies Reports About Marc Zuckerburg’s Indifference Towards Publishers

Facebook said it is also working with publishers across the US and Europe to test support for subscriptions in "Instant Articles".

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Facebook refutes report 'Zuckerberg doesn't care about publishers'. Pixabay

Facebook has denied a media report that cited one of its senior executives as saying that Mark Zuckerberg doesn’t care about publishers.

The Australian on Monday reported that in a meeting with Australian media executives, Facebook’s Head of News Partnerships Campbell Brown said: “Mark Zuckerberg doesn’t care about publishers but is giving me a lot of leeway and concessions to make these changes”.

Brown reportedly said that publishers who choose not to work with Facebook will wind up in a dying business.

“Facebook said the remarks were inaccurate and taken out of context,” Fortune reported.

Facebook's CEO Mark Zuckerberg, May 23, 2018. VOA
Facebook’s CEO Mark Zuckerberg. VOA

The Australian claimed the story was based on information from five people present at the meeting with Brown who requested anonymity.

Earlier in August, Facebook announced to invest an additional $4.5 million towards helping the publishing industry globally.

The social media giant, that reported more than $5 billion in profit in the second quarter this year, said it will give $3.5 million towards “Facebook Membership Accelerator”, a three-month pilot programme designed to help publishers with membership models.

“We are going to continue to coach the group of metro news publishers from the pilot programme through the end of this year, and we will reconvene with them in 2019 to focus on subscriber retention,” Brown said in a blog post.

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Facebook said it is also working with publishers across the US and Europe.(IANS)

Facebook also announced to contribute $1 million to the 2018 “NewsMatch” campaign which matches individual donations to more than 100 non-profit newsrooms around the country.

Also Read: Slow Disclosure of Tesla Raising Governance, Social Media Concerns

Facebook said it is also working with publishers across the US and Europe to test support for subscriptions in “Instant Articles”.

“Moving forward, we’ll also be exploring ways to support emerging models like membership directly on Facebook,” said Brown. (IANS)