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Blue Whale challenge: Facebook, Google, Delhi govt served show cause notice

LiveMint logoLiveMint 22-08-2017 Shreya Agarwal

New Delhi: Show cause notices were issued to the Indian branches of Facebook, Google, Yahoo, the state of Delhi and the Union of India by the Delhi high court on Tuesday in the matter of a writ petition seeking a ban on the internet-based suicide game, “Blue Whale Challenge”.

The public interest litigation filed by a Delhi-based advocate Gurmeet Singh says the Blue Whale Challenge has abetted suicide and/or self-destructive grievous injuries by children. It wants prominent social media platforms to be restrained from posting or allowing users to post material pertaining Blue Whale.

It was “the need of the hour that the State be directed to appoint a special team (comprising of at least 5 members not below the rank of an Inspector)” to oversee compliance with the direction, it said.

The Blue Whale Challenge is said to consist of a series of tasks assigned to players by administrators over a 50-day period. The final challenge requires the player to jump off a high-rise. The game was invented by a former psychology student in Russia, Philipp Budeikin. It has allegedly claimed the lives of around seven adolescents across India.

Children from countries including Italy, China, Chile, Brazil, Argentina, Russia, the US, Spain, Portugal have succumbed to injuries and death having been allured into the Blue Whale Challenge.

The petition cites the example of China to support his plea for a ban on the suicide game, stating that “in May 2017, Tencent, China’s largest Internet service portal, closed 12 suspicious Blue Whale-related network groups on its social networking platform QQ. The search results of related keywords was also blocked in QQ.”

The Delhi high court bench headed by chief justice Gita Mittal taking cognizance of the urgency of the matter issued notice to Union of India as well, although the petition originally included only the private social media platforms—Facebook, Google, and Yahoo—and the State of Delhi as parties.

Hearing in the Blue Whale Challenge case will continue next on 19 September.

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