Information and Broadcasting Ministry is planning to set up a social media hub for collect, monitor and analyse
digital and social media content or online data, that is refereed to as 'creating a surveillance state' by Supreme Court.
What is social media hub ?
The proposed "Social media hub" will provide automated reports, tactical insights and comprehensive work-flows by
monitoring of the social media content of individuals through tracking their e-mails and accounts on social media
platforms like Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.
A Public Sector Undertaking (PSU), Broadcast Engineering Consultants India Limited (BECIL) under the Ministry
of Information and Broadcasting, has recently floated a tender to supply a software for the project.
The tender is issued to provide a software system, that will collect digital media chatter in a single system from
all core social media platforms as well as digital platforms such as news, blogs etc. The data collected will be used to
provide real-time insights, metrics and other valuable information of user's activities.
Under the scheme contractual hiring of local media persons is also proposed to get on ground real time updates and
information. The platform will also help the Ministry to understand the impact of various social media campaigns
conducted on Centre-run schemes.
"Social media hub", a step towards surveillance state ?
Supreme Court has recently upholded "right to privacy" as an essential fundamental right, under such circumstances the
government cannot implement such a surveillance mechanism to to examine every aspect of an individual activity that too
in absence of a rigorous data protection regime.
If the proposed "Social media hub" came into existence, a citizen will be hesitated to exercise his right to
free speech knowing that the state and its agencies are monitoring every word uttered by her, maintaining records and
logs of the same and using them to profile her.
Way forward ?
As the supreme court indicates the proposed "Social media hub" can be a step forward in making India a surveillance state.
The government should opt for some other ideas to counter social media misuse and those policies should be inline with
rights provided by the constitution to the citizens.
Monitoring individual's activities using "Social media hub" could be proved as a dent in fundamental "right to privacy",
more proactive ideas should be adopted while keeping an individual's right to privacy and free speech.