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delhi-courtThe Delhi High Court Wednesday asked the centre to issue a notification on the electronic signature required by an individual to send a complaint through e-mail to Facebook.


A division bench of Justice B.D. Ahmed and Justice Vibhu Bakhru told the central government’s counsel to seek instructions in this regard.


The direction came after the petitioner alleged that Facebook was adopting a cumbersome procedure for users to send a complaint to its grievance officer.


The court had, while hearing a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) filed earlier by former BJP leader K.N. Govindacharya, asked social networking sites to display on their websites the name and contact details of grievance officers.


It also asked the government to ensure that other social networking sites appointed a grievance officer.


During the hearing, advocate Virag Gupta, appearing for Govindacharya, told the bench that to send a complaint by post to the grievance officer of Facebook, the complainant has to first send it to Ireland, its headquarters; and if through an e-mail, it had to be sent with digital signature.


The counsel objected to the move of the social networking site to make it mandatory for a complainant to have an electronic signature, saying very few people here have opted for this kind of signature.


In its order the bench said: “We find that the provision with regard to electronic signature under Information Technology Act is, till date, blank. The centre’s advocate to take instruction, when the central government is going to bring its notification.”


The court also directed the centre to finalise, within a month, its e-mail policy for official communication by government officers in consonance with the Public Records Act in order to bar transfer of data to a server outside the country.


The bench recorded the submission of the centre’s standing counsel, Sumit Pushkarna, that process for framing the e-mail policy for government employees is on, and it has sought opinion from various ministries on it, which would take two months time.


“With regard to the e-mail policy which was to be finalised, the centre seeks more time, we give four weeks for finalising the policy,” the bench said.


The petitioner’s advocate also drew the court’s attention to the fact that despite the court’s direction, top officials of the IT and Communication Ministry are still using private e-mail IDs, posing a big security risk.


The court has now fixed the matter for hearing Dec 12.


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