Ministry of I&B To Set Up Social Media Monitors in 716 Indian Districts
May 26th, 2018
Image For Representational Purpose | Source: Indian Express
Right after the PMO quashed its plans of penalising journalists who were identified as purveyors of fake news, the I&B Ministry has come up with a new plan that might rob social media users of their right to privacy.
The Ministry of I&B has decided to set up social media communication hub and deploy social media monitors who would be given the responsibility of monitoring social media content across 716 districts of India. The New Indian Express reported that this has been done to identify positive stories regarding various initiatives launched by the Narendra Modi government as well as appraise the ministry for disseminating them across various social media platforms.
According to a tender put forth by I&B Ministry’s engineering arm, BECIL, the social media hubs are to collect data relating with local news coverage and events in addition with monitoring news published in local newspapers. Additionally, the document has also called for the setting up of a ‘Social Media Analytical Tool’ which is going to monitor contents across some commonly used social media platforms like Facebook, Youtube, Twitter, among others.
Much like the Aadhaar controversy that prompted the Supreme Court to declare Right To Privacy as a fundamental right, this move raises online privacy concerns as well.
However, an official of the Ministry of I&B, on conditions of anonymity told The Logical Indian, “We just want to get the feedback from people with regard to social media posts made by the different ministries of the government. We will only use what is already available in the public domain.”
The Logical Indian Take
Since laws pertaining to online data protection is not clearly defined by the Indian legal system, the process of obtaining data from users does reinforce the much-contested topic of privacy breach.
On questions of the data being used, he said, “We are not in talks with Facebook or Twitter, because without their consent, we cannot access private data.” He added that this is in no way similar to the Cambridge Analytica situation.
At a time when online data privacy has become a burning issue globally, this move might infringe upon a person’s right to privacy. What remains unknown is how the government plans to use the data that will be gathered.