The Indian Supreme Court has ordered a review of a ruling that found that a court in Bihar was using “ri courts” to spam its websites.
The decision on Wednesday (March 26) overturned a 2011 judgment by a five-judge bench of the court that said that the Supreme Court was bound by an “obligation to ensure the privacy of the internet users”.
“It was observed by the Supreme Commission of Bar Council that ‘ri Courts’ were being used by the government to target users by sending spam and harassing their communications,” the judges wrote.
“In order to protect users, the Commission was of the view that a prohibition on using ‘ri Court’ would adversely affect the privacy interests of the users and would not promote public confidence in the judiciary,” they said.
The ruling was hailed as a landmark decision in the battle over internet freedom, with the Supreme Courts challenging the country’s telecom regulator.
The court said the law was meant to prevent the misuse of technology to promote and protect the interests of individuals.
“It is a clear and unequivocal obligation on the State to ensure that privacy of Internet users is protected and that this is reflected in its law,” the judgement said.
“The Commission is of the opinion that the prohibition on ‘ri-courts’ has the effect of adversely affecting the privacy and interests of persons in the country.”
In the wake of the ruling, a number of Indian websites, including one run by the Delhi-based digital rights group Digital Rights India, and several other media organisations, posted messages calling on their readers to sign a petition demanding a review.
The petitioners said they feared the court could find that the court had been using the “ri-court” as a tool to harass users and make money.
“This decision has the potential to impact hundreds of millions of Indians in ways that could be disastrous,” said Rishi Verma, Digital Rights Foundation India’s India researcher.
“People are not just the Internet users but also the citizens of India.
The courts should not be used to harass and threaten the citizens,” he added.
The Supreme Court also said it was concerned about the privacy implications of the “robot court”, which the court said could be used for “spreading spam and spamming”.
“Aro-courtas are often used for targeting users by email and social media.
The ‘robot courts’ are being used to target online users by mailing automated messages and threatening their privacy,” the court wrote.
The “robo court” is a form of automated spamming that involves sending spam emails or “spam bots” to people who click on links on websites.
A court order last year allowed the use of “ro-court spam” in courtrooms.
The court also ordered that “robots” that were programmed to send automated messages to court officers and other members of the public should be banned in court.