New Delhi: The Centre on Tuesday told the Supreme Court that new rules to regulate the social media, to prevent hate speech, fake news, defamatory posts and anti-national activities will be finalised by January 15, 2020.

The top court also transferred all cases pending before different High Courts relating to interlinking of Aadhaar database with social media profiles, to itself.

Presenting its case, the Centre told the apex court that government does not favour invading the privacy of citizens but at the same time, “privacy has to be balanced with national interest and sovereignty”.

Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, appearing for the Centre told the court, “No intermediary can say that in guise of privacy, terrorist activities can be protected.”

The apex court was hearing Facebook’s plea seeking transfer of various petitions from different high courts to the Supreme Court.

Facebook had said that the transfer of cases would serve the interests of justice by avoiding the possibility of conflicting decisions from the high courts. The social media giant told the apex court that two petitions had been filed in the Madras High Court and one each in the Bombay and Madhya Pradesh High Courts.

Further, a bench of Justices Deepak Gupta and Aniruddha Bose stated that all the cases related to social media will now be heard in the last week of January.

In an affidavit filed with the apex court on Monday, the ministry of electronics and information technology (MeitY) had argued that though “technology has led to economic growth and societal development, on the other hand, there has been an exponential rise in hate speech, fake news, public order, anti-national activities, defamatory postings, and other unlawful activities using internet/social media platforms”. The Centre then asked the apex court a three months’ time to finalise rules on preventing misuse of social media profiles.

The Supreme Court had on September 24 rapped the Centre, stating that “we can’t get away by saying that we don’t have a technology to track originators of online crime” while maintaining that technology has taken a “dangerous turn”. It sought the Centre affidavit within three weeks for giving a definite timeline to framing statutory guidelines to curb the misuse of social media.

(With IANS inputs)