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Social Media Communications Hub proposal withdrawn: Centre Tells SC

03-August-2018
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Social Media Communications Hub proposal withdrawn: Centre Tells SC

The Central government, on August 3, 2018, told the Supreme Court that is has withdrawn the proposal to create Social Media Communications Hub.

The case in the Supreme Court was disposed off after Attorney General KK Venugopal, on behalf of the government, informed the Apex court that the request for proposal for Social Media Communications Hub has been withdrawn.

exchange4media had reported on the issue on May 17, 2018 about a Request for Proposals (RFP) by BECIL (Broadcast Engineering Consultants India Limited ) inviting bidder/agencies for SITC (supply, installation, testing & commission) of software and service and support for function, operation and maintenance of the Social Media Communication Hub, Ministry of Information and Broadcasting, Government of India. 

The proposal demanded for a tool that could crawl World Wide Web, monitor social media and messages. 

“The tool should have the capability to crawl World Wide Web and social media to monitor and analyze emerging trends as well as gauge the sentiments among the netizens,” the tender read, among other things such as “monitor individual social media user/account” and “message monitoring – this will help in understanding overall social media response to a message, tweet or data”.   

The issue was later widely picked up by the mainstream media post which the government’s proposal was challenged by Trinamool Congress MLA, Mohua Moitra. 

Listening to Moitra’s plea the Supreme Court had earlier observed, “If the government starts tapping WhatsApp messages, we will be moving towards becoming a surveillance state.”

The remark was made by Justice DY Chandrachud, who was on a bench with Chief Justice Dipak Misra and Justice AM Khanwilkar, when the petition filed by Trinamool Congress legislator Mahua Moitra came up before it.

Earlier this month, the issue was also raised in Rajya Sabha and the Minister of Information and Broadcasting, Rajyavardhan Rathore had defended it saying, “There is no proposal in the ministry to control social media ...The ministry proposes to set up a ‘social media hub’ to facilitate information flow regarding its policies and programmes through social media platforms i.e. Facebook, Twitter, Instagram Youtube etc. There is no proposal to invade an individual’s right to privacy.”

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