Reporter’s Diary: Digital media – a boon or bane?

Reporter Abid Hasan wonders how to balance one’s right to freedom of speech and the country’ security in the wake of the ban on certain websites

e4m by Abid Hasan
Updated: Aug 25, 2012 8:52 PM
Reporter’s Diary: Digital media – a boon or bane?

“Dear Govt of India ...if u block Twitter or Facebook …u will be directly responsible for Poonam Pandey’s Career getting spoilt”: This was the first tweet that I saw bya social media user even as the Government was pressing for the band on some ‘bogus’ sites.

Jokes apart, this ban has some serious implications – the foremost being the balance between one’s right to freedom of speech and the security of the country. Recently, threat messages being sent on SMSes saw a mass exodus of people from the North-Eastern states from places like Bangalore, Hyderabad and Chennai. Taking the issue seriously, TRAI limited the number of SMSes to be sent from a mobile number to five, which has now being raised to 20.

Digital media is a platform that has led to the growth of several online enterprises, but it has also proved to be a major threat to the security of the country. While marketers and advertisers have been using digital media to engage their TG and promote their brands, the country’s enemies have also been using digital media to spread malicious rumours, carry out terror attacks and more.

With Assam still tense following the ethnic violence in some of its districts, the Central Government is trying to block offensive content on social media websites, which it claims have been responsible for the hate campaign against North-East Indians. The Government has asked Twitter and other social media websites to remove the objectionable content or face shutdown in India, which has drawn a multitude of reactions from the people – ranging from complete support to adamant opposition.

Some see the cap put on SMSes and the blocking of several sites as a throwback on the 1977 Emergency era.

India recently celebrated its 65th Independence Day – I think it is high time the country has the checks and balances in place to avoid such incidences.

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