New Delhi, Dec 4: The Delhi High Court was informed by the Centre that it has directed internet majors, including Google, Facebook and Yahoo, to shut down in India the ‘Blue Whale’ challenge game which is linked to the deaths of several children worldwide.
The central government counsel told a bench of Acting Chief Justice Gita Mittal and Justice C Hari Shankar that it has also issued an advisory in this regard. The submission was made during the hearing of a petition seeking immediate directions to restrain internet firms from uploading any material pertaining to the challenge game, citing cases of suicide by children in India and abroad.
The court dismissed as withdrawn the petition after petitioner advocate Gurmeet Singh said his grievances have been addressed. The bench was apprised of the Supreme Court’s order directing the Chief Secretaries of all states to issue directions to make school children aware of the dangers posed by virtual dare games like Blue Whale Challenge, saying they must be made aware of the ‘beauty of life’.
The apex court had asked the Union Ministry of Human Resources Development to issue a circular to make school-going children aware of the perils of such dangerous games. The Centre’s counsel informed the high court that it has issued directions to internet majors – Google, Facebook, WhatsApp, Instagram, Microsoft and Yahoo to ensure that all links of ‘Blue Whale’ and of similar games are immediately removed from their platforms. The sudden popularity of the lethal online game, in which the final task requires the player to commit suicide, had forced the government to issue directions to the internet firms to remove its links.
Yahoo India had said, in its response, that its internal policies and terms of services, already explicitly direct the users and prohibit uploading of any content that is unlawful, harmful, especially any act that could harm a minor. Google India, which is a party in the case, had earlier told the bench that it was not a necessary party and Google Inc should be impleaded.
Facebook India had also raised a similar plea in its application seeking its deletion from the array of parties, saying that services for users outside USA and Canada was provided by Facebook Ireland. The Blue Whale Challenge is reportedly a suicide game in which the player is given certain tasks to complete over a period of 50 days and the final task leads him or her to commit suicide.
The player is also asked to share photos after finishing each challenge. More than six children across India in the age group of 12-19 years have taken their lives allegedly while playing this game within a span of two weeks, reports have said. Deaths of teenagers have also been reported from other countries including Russia, China, Saudi Arabia, Brazil, Argentina, Bulgaria, Chile and Italy, the PIL had said.
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