India courts slam Facebook, govt for inadequate youth safety policies

Summary:Delhi High Court orders Facebook to ban kids below 13 years old and add a disclaimer on its login page. This follows a recent sex and smoke party involving children who had allegedly gathered through the social network.

Facebook's senior advocate, Parag Tripathi, assured the New Delhi court a disclaimer will be added to the site in line with its policy of not allowing kids under 13 years of age to open accounts, reported Zeenews.com. The case was further driven home earlier this week as Gurgaon Police raided a local pub that was serving alcohol and hookah to children between 14 and 18. As a result, now all bars and pubs in Gurgaon have two weeks to install IP CCTVs on the premises to retain their liquor licenses.

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Will this latest attempt and effort to protect India's youth be successful? Realistically, probably not, but it is great to see the Indian government taking the safety of children more seriously, more so after the brutal and unfortunate Delhi gang-rape case last December.

As for Facebook, well, let's be frank; what mechanisms can prevent someone under the age of 13 from creating an account? Furthermore, even if a minor does, is he or she going to be charged, or will it be the parents or guardians? Sure, creating an account that clearly shows you are under the age of 13 will raise a few eyebrows, but again, who is really going to report it in?

Personally, I feel this could end up driving minors into a rebellious state of mind, typically of parents and or guardians telling their children not to do something, and in turn, they do it anyways. What makes this scenario harder to detect is how minors and youth in India are all socially connected to begin with, and with mobile access too.

I don't remember having a mobile phone when I was 10 years old, but in India, it's become the norm. While most would think having a mobile phone is primary for convenience and security for their children, it's not. It's meant to social with your friends by chatting, texting, or talking, and of course, playing games and downloading apps .

It's too late to pull the plug and restrict the age for signing up to Facebook or other social media websites. All kids want to grow up faster than they are, and being visible online is just another way of affirming that for themselves. 

Topics: Social Enterprise, Government : Asia, India, Legal

About

Originally from Canada, Nitin has been residing and working in India since 2009. He has worked in different ICT industries in countries such as India, Canada, and Tanzania. He is an avid follower and application developer within the growing mobile phone sector in India.

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