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Did Facebook commit 'digital fraud'? HC seeks report

Source: PTI
March 31, 2021 16:04 IST
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The Delhi high court has asked Delhi police to file a status report on a plea seeking a direction to authorities to take action against Facebook and its senior officials for their alleged criminal acts and ‘digital conspiracy'.

The court was informed by the counsel for the Delhi Police Commissioner and its Cyber Crime Cell that the complaint made by the company Vas Data Services, which was running its operations through its website, has already been closed.

Justice Anu Malhotra, in its March 24 order, asked the state to submit its status report in this regard before the next date of hearing and listed the matter for further hearing on April 15.


Senior advocate Maninder Singh, representing the petitioner company, said as per the platform's offer, the companies opting to advertise on the space will have to pay for ad-services that would include clickable space on their website, as an advertisement, which when clicked by a Facebook user will redirect him to an external website or application link of the company.

“However, Facebook by misusing its unimpeachable reputation in the digital world deliberately developed a faulty system to gain booming undeserved profits,” he contended.

The petition, filed through advocates Gaurav Singh and Ekta Vats, said main purpose of the petitioner company to spend huge money on advertisement through the platform was to convert “clickers into buyers” but due to the alleged deliberate technical discrepancies, the prospective buyer never reached their website, causing a loss of business and reputation.

It alleged that the platform kept on charging money from the company and on checking the records, it was found that there was huge discrepancy in the amount charged and service provided, that is flow of traffic through clicking of advertisement.

The plea said Facebook, among other offerings, also sells or offers digital advertising space to commercial business houses and the major source of income for the platform is generated by selling the advertising space.

The plea, which alleged commission of offences including cheating, criminal conspiracy under the IPC and computer related offences under the Information Technology Act, said that a complaint was given to the Delhi Police Cyber Cell in this regard in 2019 but no FIR has been lodged till date.

The plea has sought direction to the Delhi Police Cyber Cell to submit its detailed status report before the court, explaining the action taken till date against the proposed accused.

It has also sought direction to the Centre and police to jointly constitute a Special Investigation Unit (SIT) and handover the investigation into the complaint to the SIT which shall lodge a report.

The petition sought direction to the Centre to set up an authority specifically dealing with digital frauds being carried out on digital platforms to safeguard rights of stakeholders and to submit a detailed proposal before the court in this regard.

Photograph: Regis Duvignau/Reuters

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