Govt drops social media hub plan

Govt drops social media hub plan

Big brother plans dropped

The Centre on Friday told the Supreme Court that it has withdrawn the move to establish a social media communication hub for analysing online activities of citizens.

Attorney General K K Venugopal informed a three-judge bench presided over by Chief Justice Dipak Misra that the government has taken a decision and the notification was being withdrawn.

He submitted before the bench, also comprising Justices A M Khanwilkar and D Y Chandrachud, the government would review the social media policy. He also said the PIL has become infructuous.

Taking note of the submission, the court disposed of the petition filed by TMC MLA Mahua Moitra.

The move by the NDA government comes weeks after the apex court took strong exception to the Information and Broadcasting Ministry's decision in April, saying it would be "like creating a surveillance state". The court had earlier also asked if the government wanted to tap citizens' WhatsApp messages.

The decision by the Information and Broadcasting Ministry was to "monitor and collect digital media chatter” from all core social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter “to give a positive slant” to news and discussions for India and inculcate “nationalistic feelings in the masses”.

The Broadcast Engineering Consultants India Ltd (BECIL), a public sector undertaking (PSU) under the ministry, had floated a tender to supply a software for the project. The tender was to be opened on August 20.

The petitioner claimed it will be a breach of privacy of an individual. Under the project, people, right up to the district level, will be monitored, she said.

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