One of the judges hearing the matter observed that tracking and regulating social media content will transform the country into a surveillance state.

Supreme Court raises concerns over govts plan to monitor social media
Atom Social Media Saturday, July 14, 2018 - 17:00

 

 

 

The Central Government’s move through the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting of keeping a close eye on social media did not find favor with the Supreme Court.

The issue in front of the Court is if the government is entitled to spy on citizens’ private conversations over social media networks like WhatsApp or Facebook. The Ministry had floated an enquiry in the public domain inviting companies that can offer this service. The main purpose stated is to stop the indiscriminate dissemination of fake messages, with the particular intent to instigate violence. However, this was challenged by a member of the parliament following which the court is hearing the matter.

One of the judges hearing the matter observed that tracking and regulating social media content will transform the country into a surveillance state.

There have been cases in a few states where innocent people were lynched by mobs following circulation of such information that the person is a child lifter or things of that nature. The government has been under pressure to arrest this. With the general elections just months away, the government probably does not want to give ammunition to the opposition to rake up these incidents and show the government in bad light.

The government had written to WhatsApp and Facebook to check and remove such malicious messages before it got circulated. WhatsApp has replied adding that it will explore the possibility of stopping/removing such messages.

Now when a member of Parliament has gone to Court questioning the government’s intent, one of the judges of the Supreme Court is said to have remarked that such monitoring by the government or an agency mandated by it would amount to the country becoming a surveillance state.

WhatsApp has even published huge advertisements in leading newspapers advising the users of the app on how they can avoid getting carried away by fake messages.

Also read: Centre mulls setting up defence incubator in Hyderabad’s T-Hub




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