The Madurai Bench of the Madras High Court on Tuesday directed the Central and State governments to take action to curb the Blue Whale Challenge, an online game, which has turned into a social menace.
Disposing of a suo motu public interest litigation petition, a division bench of Justices K. K. Sasidharan and G. R. Swaminathan directed the Centre to take steps to bring the service providers into a legal framework where they have to comply with Indian laws. The service providers were also directed to remove all the links being circulated on social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter and the Dark Net and prior to the removal they should furnish information on downloads or access to suspicious links or URLs.
‘Collect devices of users’
The Indian Computer Emergency Response Team (CERT-IN) was directed to collect the electronic devices used by victims of the Blue Whale game for conducting digital forensic analysis to track the administrators of the game.
The Central government must use its diplomatic relationship with Russia to seek co-operation and block the URLs and links and take necessary action against the culprits. The court directed the technology companies and websites to provide necessary data and information when requested by the law enforcing authorities in India.
The Centre should amend laws to bring their Indian subsidiaries under the purview of Indian laws.
The State government was directed to take action against those providing the links and promoting the dangerous game under the Information Technology Act, 2000, and the Indian Penal Code. The court asked the State to designate S. Murugan, Joint Director, Department of Vigilance and Anti Corruption, as a nodal officer, who should ensure the implementation of the order to block the websites featuring Blue Whale Challenge and remove links.
The Principal Secretaries to Government, School Education department and the Higher Education department and the Directors of School and Collegiate Education were directed to ensure that students and parents were sensitised on the dangers of the game.
At the district and taluk levels, the government must constitute a committee consisting of members from NGOs, psychiatrists, voluntary organisations and educationists to chalk out programmes to counsel educational institutions and a dedicated telephone number for the purpose should be operated.
The Superintendent of Police, Madurai Rural, was directed to hand over the electronic devices seized in connection with the suicide of Vignesh to CERT-In for forensic analysis.
The Bench appreciated the efforts taken by experts for throwing light on the technical aspects in the case and stated that the court could not remain a mute spectator in the wake of a social menace taking a toll on innocent victims.