Telecom minister Kapil Sibal today stated that the present UPA Government has so far requested the social networking sites in the country to block 1,208 web addresses, or uniform resource locaters (URLs) this year. The story reported by TOI said that the statement was made by the minister in a written reply to the Lok Sabha.

Sharing more on the orders of blocking content, Kapil Sibal highlighted that all these requests were made in order to comply with the court orders. Further detailing on the numbers, he added that, “Social networking sites were requested to block 8, 21, 352 and 1,208 URLs during 2010, 2011, 2012 and 2013, respectively to comply with the court orders.” In fact from the 352 URLs that were blocked in 2012, 312 URLs were blocked in a single instance at the time when tensions were at high in different parts of the country due to the North East problems.

According to the minister, all the web pages were hosting objectionable content and had the potential to disturb the law and order situation in the country.

While detailing about the process, the minister pointed that the Indian Computer Emergency Response Team (CERT-In) gets requests for blocking of objectionable content from individuals and organizations, which it forwards to the social networking sites for appropriate action.

“There is no institutional monitoring mechanism for monitoring social networking sites. At present, law enforcement and intelligence/security agencies make searches on the Internet on specific case-to-case basis,” added the minister.

What is really surprising is to read the fact that there is no institutional monitoring mechanism available for the department. The country has already deployed a Centralised Monitoring System (CMS), a replica of NSA’s Prism which has the potentiality of tracking every individual’s online and mobile activities.

The government this year has been harping that social media is instigating riots after the communal violence that broke out in Muzaffarnagar, UP. Since then the government has been pushing to bring social media under the law. The rise in blocking content is also one of those signs where the government would be keen to push for a law.