After the Prime Minister and the Home Minister, the President of India thinks that social media should be monitored. In a latest development, President Pranab Mukherjee recently asked security agencies to keep a strict eye on “incendiary messages” on social media platforms.

Addressing the top brass of the country’s security establishment during the 75th anniversary celebrations of the paramilitary CRPF the President stated that there has been a worrying increase in communal violence in some parts of our country. He further added that monitoring social media has to be a priority for any incendiary messages.

“The social media, which enables reaching out quickly to a large number of people, has to be incessantly monitored for any incendiary messages. Early warning systems have to be put to effective use in potentially troublesome situations.”

While discussing other security concerns in the country, the President called the CRPF as the “sentinel of our internal security” and saluted the supreme sacrifice of life made by numerous soldiers and officers of the paramilitary over the years.

Monitoring social media should be a priority and the Government has mechanisms in place already. But will that also mean regulating content? Something that needs to be looked into, especially when the country has no privacy law.

Recently, Home Minister Sushil Kumar Shinde landed himself in yet another controversy when he stated that he wants to crush the electronic media since they are running a propaganda campaign against the Congress party. Seeing the heat from the press, the minister changed his stance and said that he never meant to target journalists nor meant to crush the electronic media, instead it is the social media that needs to be crushed.

“My comments were on Social Media….it was with regards to the issue related to the NE students who were being targeted in Hyderabad and Karnataka,” said Shinde saving himself from the backlash.

Last year the wave of curbing social media resurfaced after the NIC gathering held at the backdrop of the Muzaffarnagar communal riots. PM Manmohan Singh along with a number of Chief Ministers, all demanded some mechanism to check social media’s uncontrolled use.

With the CMS and Netra already up and running, one wonders how many more systems the government plans to put in place for monitoring and regulating social media or the common man’s voice over the internet. According to Minister for Communication and IT, Kapil Sibal the Indian Government had asked social networking sites to block 1,299 web addresses or Uniform Resource Locator (URLs) to comply with court orders between January 2013 and January 2014. In 2010 the number was just 8.

The 140 character network, Twitter in its Transparency Report H2 2013 informed that it received 19 account information, 8 removal requests and 54 accounts were specified by the requests from the Indian Government. However, Twitter withheld 13 tweets with no accounts being withheld.

Image credit: Ibnlive

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