A panel has been set up to probe cases of suicide allegedly caused by the 'Blue Whale' challenge game, which is linked to the deaths of several children worldwide, the government told the Delhi High Court on Thursday.
A bench of Acting Chief Justice Gita Mittal and Justice C Hari Shankar was also informed by the government that it has issued directions to internet majors - Google, Facebook, WhatsApp, Instagram, Microsoft and Yahoo to ensure that all links of 'Blue Whale' and of similar games are immediately removed from their platforms.
"All the above-mentioned companies have agreed to abide by the direction," Additional Solicitor General (ASG) Sanjay Jain, appearing for the government, said.
The sudden popularity of the lethal online game, in which the final task requires the player to commit suicide, had forced the government to issue directions to the internet firms to remove its links.
Yahoo India in its response said its internal policies and terms of services, already explicitly direct the users and prohibit uploading of any content that is unlawful, harmful, especially any act that could harm a minor.
While explaining the detailed steps taken by the authorities to ban the game, the ASG submitted that they are probing at the international level the origin, circulation and other related facts of the game.
Seeking more time to file its final report, the ASG said a high-level committee under the Chairmanship of Director General Computer Emergency Response Team (CERT-In) will investigate all cases where suicides have been committed or attempted allegedly using 'Blue Whale Challenge game'.
"This committee will carry out thorough technical analysis of PCs/laptop/mobile devices seized by the police and TSP (Telecom Service Provider) network analysis, other forensic analysis as deemed necessary and submit its report within 30 days," the government's compliance report said.
Allowing the government's request, the court gave them time till December 4.
The Centre's response came in the backdrop of the court's direction to place before it the steps taken to comply with the Madras High Court direction to ban the 'Blue Whale' game.
Taking serious view of the Blue Whale Challenge game, the Madras High Court had on September 4 asked the Centre and the Tamil Nadu government to explore possibility of banning it.
The court was hearing a PIL filed by advocate Gurmeet Singh seeking immediate directions to restrain internet firms from uploading any material pertaining to the challenge game, citing cases of suicide by children in India and abroad.
Google India, which is a party in the case, had earlier told the bench that it was not a necessary party and Google Inc should be impleaded.
Facebook India had also raised a similar plea in its application seeking its deletion from the array of parties, saying that services for users outside USA and Canada is provided by Facebook Ireland.
The Delhi high court had on August 17 expressed concern over children allegedly committing suicide while playing the game.
The Blue Whale Challenge is reportedly a suicide game in which the player is given certain tasks to complete over a period of 50 days and the final task leads him or her to commit suicide. The player is also asked to share photos after finishing each challenge.
More than six children across India in the age group of 12-19 years have taken their lives allegedly while playing this game within a span of two weeks, reports have said.
Deaths of teenagers have also been reported from other countries including Russia, China, Saudi Arabia, Brazil, Argentina, Bulgaria, Chile and Italy, the PIL has said.