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13th September Current Affairs

Keeping Big Tech in check

(GS-III: Science and Technology/ Internal Security/Governance)

In News:

US and India are looking to remove special protection available to social media platforms, called ‘safe harbour’.

What is ‘Safe Harbour’?

In the US, social media companies enjoy special protection under US’ the Communications Decency Act (CDA). It is similar to Section 79 of India’s Information Technology Act, 2000, (IT Act) which classifies social media platforms as intermediaries and broadly shields them from legal action based on content users post on their platform.

Both these regulations offer social media platforms something called ‘safe harbour’.

Rationale behind ‘safe harbour’?

Since platforms cannot control at the first instance what users post on their site, they should not be held legally liable for any objectionable content they host as long as they agree to take such content down when flagged by the government or various courts.

Although tech platforms can help keep us connected, create a vibrant marketplace of ideas, and open up new opportunities for bringing products and services to market, they can also divide us and wreak serious real-world harms.

Need for regulations:

A small number of dominant Internet platforms use their power to “exclude market entrants, to engage in rent-seeking, and to gather intimate personal information that they can use for their own advantage.

The platforms are currently shielded from being held liable and lack adequate incentive to reasonably address issues such as child sexual exploitation, cyberstalking, and the non-consensual distribution of intimate images of adults.

Key principles to keep the power of social media in check (by the US):

  • Enhance Competition
  • Maintain privacy
  • Care for youth mental health
  • Discourage misinformation and disinformation
  • Ban illegal and abusive conduct, including sexual exploitation;
  • Correct algorithmic discrimination
  • Encourage lack of transparency
  • Bring ‘greater accountability’

Other Solution:

  • Set clear limits on their ability to collect, use, transfer, and maintain our personal data
  • Limits on targeted advertising.

Steps taken:

India: India had notified extensive changes to Information Technology Rules, 2021 (IT Rules):

Creation of government-backed grievance appellate committees which would have the authority to review and revoke content moderation decisions taken by platforms.

Social media platforms to appoint key personnel to handle law enforcement requests and user grievances

Enabling identification of the first originator of the information on its platform under certain conditions

India is looking for a complete overhaul of its technology policies and is expected to soon come out with a replacement of its IT Act, 2000, which will look at ensuring net neutrality, data privacy, and algorithmic accountability of social media platforms.

However, Social media companies have objected to some of the provisions in the IT Rules, as it will dilute the encryption security on its platform and could compromise the personal messages of millions of Indians.

NCERT guidelines for Mental Health problems

In News:

NCERT issues guidelines to identify mental health problems in school students.

Key findings:

Reasons for stress and anxiety: Exam and peer pressure, Results-pressure, a decline in satisfaction with personal and school life, parental expectations.

Key Guidelines:

Schools should establish a Mental Health Advisory Panel (consisting of teachers, and parents)

Enforce the annual school Mental Health programme

Mechanism for early Identification of behavioural patterns in students (including substance use and self-harm)

Training of teachers for identification of signs in students- issues with attachment, separation, school refusal etc.

Government Initiatives:

NEP2020 emphasized students’ mental well-being.

Manodarpan: Psychosocial support to students, teachers and families

SAHYOG: Guidance for the mental wellbeing of children

National Mental Health Program (NMHP):To address the huge burden of mental disorders and shortage of qualified professionals.

Mental HealthCare Act 2017: It guarantees every affected person access to mental healthcare

Kiran Helpline: a 24/7 toll-free helpline.

Supreme Court’s three-question test for the validity of the 10% EWS quota

In News:

The Supreme Court will examine whether The Constitution (103rd Amendment) Act, which introduced a 10 per cent quota for Economically Weaker Sections (EWS) in government jobs and admissions, violates the basic structure of the Constitution.

What is the 103rd Amendment?

It inserted Articles 15(6) and 16(6) in the Constitution for 10 per cent reservation to EWS other than backward classes, SCs, and STs in higher educational institutions and initial recruitment in government jobs.

The amendment empowered state governments to provide reservations on the basis of economic backwardness.

Sinho Commission:

The EWS reservation was granted based on the recommendations of a S R Sinho commission

It recommended that all below-poverty-line (BPL) families within the general category be notified from time to time.

All families whose annual family income from all sources is below the taxable limit should be identified as EBCs (economically backward classes)

Basis of Challenge:

It violates the basic structure of the Constitution: Special protections guaranteed to socially disadvantaged groups are part of the basic structure.

The 103rd Amendment departs from this by promising special protections on the sole basis of economic status.

Reservation at 50 per cent: It violates the Supreme Court’s ruling in Indra Sawhney & Ors v Union(1992) of India, which upheld the Mandal report and capped reservations at 50 per cent.

Private, unaided educational institutions: The fundamental right to practise a trade/ profession is violated when the state compels them to implement its reservation policy and admit students on any criteria other than merit.

PM Matsay Sampada Yojana (PMMSY)

In News:

Recently, the 2nd anniversary of PMMSY has been celebrated (launched in 2020)


Aim: To bring about a blue revolution through sustainable and responsible development of the fisheries sector in India.

Ministry: Fisheries, Animal Husbandry and Dairying

Timeline: FY 2020 to 2025

Approach: ‘Cluster or Area based approaches’ and many new interventions such as fishing vessel insurance, Aquaculture in saline/alkaline areas, Sagar Mitras, FFPOs, Nucleus Breeding Centres, etc.

Key targets:

Enhance fish production by an additional 70 lakh tonnes by 2024-25.

Increase fisheries export earnings to Rs.1,00,000 crore by 2024-25.

Double incomes of fishers and fish farmers.

Reduce post-harvest losses from 20-25% to about 10%.

Generate additional 55 lakhs of direct and indirect gainful employment opportunities in the fisheries sector and allied activities.

Achievements: Fish production and exports have reached an all-time high (over 74% contribution by inland fisheries and 26% by marine).

Status of fisheries sector:

India is 2nd largest fish-producing country (over 7.5% of the global production in 2021).

Gyanvapi row: Hindu petitioners’ plea maintainable

In News:

A Varanasi district court dismissed an application filed by the Anjuman Intezamia Masjid Committee challenging the maintainability of the suit filed by Hindu women seeking the right to worship Hindu deities within the Gyanvapi mosque premises.


The Gyanvapi Mosque is located in Banaras, Uttar Pradesh, India. It was constructed by Aurangzeb in 1669 and is believed to have been made upon the demolition of an older Shiva temple.

Places of Worship Act, 1991:

It seals the religious character of all places of worship as it stood on August 15, 1947.

It mandates that any case seeking the conversion of such a place into that of another religion should be abated.

Key Highlights:

Court ruled that neither the Places of Worship Act, 1991, nor the Wakf Act, 1995, nor the U.P. Shri Kashi Vishwanath Temple Act, 1983 bars the suit.

Acquisition of a mosque by the state: The court held that irrespective of the immunity mosques have from state acquisition in Islamic countries.

The status and immunity from the acquisition in the Constitution are the same and equal to that of places of worship of other religions.

A mosque is not an essential part of the practice of the religion of Islam: Court said, Namaz (prayer) by Muslims can be offered anywhere, even in open.

Accordingly, its acquisition is not prohibited by the provisions in the Constitution of India.”