New Delhi: Rajya Sabha MP Rajeev Chandrasekhar said that social media platforms have long avoided scrutiny in the name of using algorithms, calling for them to be brought under some kind of scrutiny as the algorithms used by them are restricting the constitutionally guaranteed right to freedom of expression.

He also said that US President Donald Trump’s decision to pass an executive order to curb the protection enjoyed by social media giants like Twitter, Facebook, and others has brought the spotlight back on the principles and rules used by these companies in filtering or promoting certain content on their platforms.

In an interview with ETV Bharat, Rajeev Chandrasekhar said, “There is a serious problem with the way we are regulating social media platforms, especially Twitter, because while under our Indian Constitution we are guaranteed freedom of speech and that freedom of speech can only be restricted under Article 19 (2) under specific circumstances, these social media platforms have created algorithms which can either amplify a message or conversation, or can suppress it.”

He said that it is important to understand that the algorithm is designed by a human and if that person who designs the algorithm has biases then the algorithm will also have biases. He added that an Indian regulator should be able to scrutinise these automated software programmes used by social media and internet giants such as Google, Microsoft, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, LinkedIn, and others.

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Rajeev Chandrasekhar says India already has reasonable restrictions on the freedom of speech. He says that freedom of speech in India can be restricted under Article 19 (2) of the Indian Constitution under specific circumstances and there should not be direct or indirect censorship of free speech in other cases as it is guaranteed under Article 19(1)(A).“The Constitution is supreme and no algorithm can supersede the Constitution,” he said in the interview.