The Supreme Court today asked government to set up a panel of experts to block virtual dare games like Blue Whale Challenge which has allegedly led to several suicidal deaths.
The apex court also sought the government’s response on a plea seeking to firewall such life threatening/violent games existing in the cyber world like ‘Choking game’, ‘Salt and Ice Challenge’, ‘Fire Challenge’, ‘Cutting challenge’, ‘Eyeball challenge’ and ‘Human Embroidery game’.
Firewall is a system designed to prevent unauthorised access to or from a private network by controlling incoming and outgoing network traffic.
A bench headed by Chief Justice Dipak Misra asked the government to constitute an experts committee to create such firewalls and file its reply October 27.
The bench, comprising Justices A M Khanwilkar and D Y Chandrachud, also restrained all high courts from entertaining and proceedings further in similar pleas.
The plea was filed by an activist and advocate Sneha Kalita who sought directions to intermediaries, particularly network service providers (NSPs), internet service providers (ISP), Web Hosting Service Providers, cyber cafes to observe due diligence and take steps to inform all users of computer resources “not to host, display, upload and share any virtual digital games which is grossly harmful and life threatening and morally degrading.”
“Issue directions to the Respondents No 1 (Centre) to take immediate measures to ban/block the sites linked with the dangerous Blue Whale online game or any other forms of violence and immoral game similar in nature,” the plea said.
Kalita sought a direction to the government to improve “the filtering services at Indian Shores like having firewalls in each Cable landing Station or having DNS Blocking wall with brain scanner (at underground submarine optical fibre cable connecting the operators abroad) to be installed at Indian shores to prevent and filter the virtual online games which are harmful and life threatening and morally degrading.”
Cable landing stations are locations where a submarine telecommunications cables and submarine power cables make a landfall. A submarine communications cable is a cable laid on the sea bed between land-based stations to carry telecommunication signals across stretches of ocean.
The petition also sought a direction to the Ministry of Woman and Child Development to take precautions to prevent youngsters from falling into the trap of such games.
The apex court is already hearing a plea filed by a 73-year-old man from Tamil Nadu seeking a ban on the Blue Whale challenge game allegedly linked to the deaths of several children worldwide.
Several high courts like Delhi and Madras have been seized of the matter and have sought response from Centre and Facebook, Google and Yahoo for taking down the links of the Blue Whale challenge.
However, yesterday the Centre told the Delhi High Court that an experts panel has been set up to probe cases of suicide allegedly caused by the ‘Blue Whale’ challenge game.
The court was also informed by the government 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 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.
The sudden popularity of the lethal online game had forced the government to issue directions to the internet firms to remove its links.