Regulators

MIB Minister tries to allay fears on online surveillance & privacy violations

Rajyavardhan Rathore also tells Parliament no proposal to install tracking chips in STBs

http://www.indiantelevision.com/sites/default/files/styles/smartcrop_800x800/public/images/tv-images/2018/07/26/Rajyavardhan-Rathore.jpg?itok=7xv6suct

NEW DELHI: The Indian government has denied that its proposed Social Media Communications Hub, under the jurisdiction of Ministry of Information and Broadcasting (MIB), will violate a citizen’s privacy through monitoring of social media footprints as the plan was more directed towards propagating the government’s policy initiatives.

The government has also clarified that there was no proposal under consideration to get installed tracking chips in set-top- boxes through which various TV and broadband services are delivered to a large number of the 190 million-plus TV households in India.

“The government proposes to set up a Social Media Hub to facilitate information flow regarding its policies and programmes through social media platforms, that is Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube, etc.,” MIB Minister Rajyavardhan Rathore told the Indian Parliament’s Lower House yesterday while answering queries raised by fellow parliamentarians whether such a monitoring facility is aimed at collecting and analysing data across all major social media platforms that would ultimately be a surveillance tool for the government.

The Minister also clarified that there was no proposal to “invade an

individual’s right to privacy, and the right to freedom of speech” through the proposed social media hub.

In the past two years, MIB has been a facilitator in providing publicity to the flagship schemes of the government on major social media platforms and had organized various online promotional activities in this regard, Rathore explained.

What Rathore didn’t clarify or add --- as he was not asked specifically so --- as to why a tender for setting up of the Social Media Communications Hub was floated in the first place and why the document’s objectives were so detailed that it alarmed civil society on its citizen surveillance aspects. The full details of the tender document can be still found online.

Incidentally, the deadline for a tender floated to locate vendor(s) to set up the proposed social media hub --- termed by critics as a surveillance tool to monitor Indian citizens’ activities and thoughts in real time --- has been extended several times since April 2018 with the new deadline now being 20 August 2018 before which the Supreme Court is scheduled to hear a case against its setting first week of August.

The apex court’s initial observations sounded critical as it said if such a monitoring hub came up it could turn India into a “surveillance state”.

Broadcast Engineering Consultants India Limited (BECIL), an organization under the umbrella of MIB, had floated a tender to supply a software for the project. When the idea was first mooted Smriti Irani was the MIB Minister.

"A technology platform is needed to collect digital media chatter from all core social media platforms as well as digital platforms such as news, blogs... In a single system providing real-time insights, metrics and other valuable data," the tender document stated.

Under the project, media persons would be employed on contractual basis in each district to be the "eyes and ears" of the government and provide real-time updates from the ground --- one of the reason for extending the deadline was this condition, missing in the original tender document, got added later.

According to critics of the project, undertaken under a seemingly harmless name of Social Media Communications Hub, however, it aimed to monitor in real times not only the social media and online activities of Indian citizens, but also seeks to deploy technology to predict behavior and possible future actions of people. This, at a time when India doesn’t have strong data protection laws.

Amongst the many listed objectives of the media hub is this: “What would be the headlines and breaking news of various channels and newspapers across the globe--- could be done with knowledge about their leanings, business deals, investors, their country policies, sentiment of their population, past trends etc. NYT, Economist, Time etc. are good examples, what would be the global public perception due to such headlines and breaking news, how could the public perception be moulded in positive manner for the country, how could nationalistic feelings be inculcated in the masses, how can the perception management of India be improved at the world for a how could the media blitzkrieg of India’s adversaries be predicted and replied/neutralized, how could the social media and internet news/discussions be given a positive slant for India.”

One of the many critics of this project is the Internet Freedom Foundation (IFF), which has also sent a notice to the MIB to stop the project, failing which the organization would take legal action. Its concerns? “Social Media Communication Hub will also have the ability to broadcast content without any legal authority or guidance through 20 central and 716 district level social media executives. In sum, this is a system of control through surveillance and a capacity to spread propaganda,” the Foundation had said in an online campaign last month.

Latest Reads

http://www.indiantelevision.com/sites/default/files/styles/340x340/public/images/tv-images/2019/04/25/trai.jpg?itok=EQ-bxC-m
Tata Sky vs TRAI: Delhi HC lists matter for 2 May

MUMBAI: The Delhi High Court has adjourned the petition of top DTH operators Tata Sky, Airtel Digital TV, Sun Direct and broadcaster Discovery India Communication challenging Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) and its new tariff regime to 2 May. The last hearing on 11 April was adjourned...

Regulators High Court
http://www.indiantelevision.com/sites/default/files/styles/340x340/public/images/tv-images/2019/04/25/cable_TV_REMOTE.jpg?itok=pRaEnuya
MIB received 160 MSO applications after notification of new TRAI regulatory framework

The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) has been emphasising on the new tariff order’s role to create a level playing field for smaller MSOs since the beginning. While highlighting the benefits of the new framework for small MSOs, TRAI said that 15 large multi system operators (MSOs)...

Regulators I&B Ministry
http://www.indiantelevision.com/sites/default/files/styles/340x340/public/images/tv-images/2019/04/25/dish-tv.jpg?itok=0ZWBCxGy
TRAI directs Dish TV to comply with provisions of new tariff order

The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) has issued a fresh directive to another DTH operator, Dish TV, to ensure compliance with its new tariff order. TRAI says that Dish TV is forcefully offering a bouquet of free to air (FTA) channels and not giving consumers any choice.

Regulators TRAI
http://www.indiantelevision.com/sites/default/files/styles/340x340/public/images/tv-images/2019/04/24/trai.jpg?itok=5OdyclOn
TRAI tariff order: Regulator issues notice to Airtel Digital TV for flouting rules

Within a few days of directing six distribution platform operators (DPOs) to comply with all provisions of its new tariff order, the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India(TRAI) has issued a directive to Airtel Digital TV along the same lines. The regulator issued the notice to Airtel Digital TV...

Regulators TRAI
http://www.indiantelevision.com/sites/default/files/styles/340x340/public/images/tv-images/2019/04/23/trai_0.jpg?itok=22Oi0Qez
TRAI to finalise views on regulating OTT services by May end

The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) is hoping to finalise its views on over-the-top (OTT) communication services towards the end of May.

Regulators TRAI
http://www.indiantelevision.com/sites/default/files/styles/340x340/public/images/tv-images/2019/04/23/rs.jpg?itok=CjB4WHxZ
New tariff order: TRAI hints at action against DPOs flouting norms

The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) has warned all cable TV and DTH players that those found to be flouting its new tariff order rules will be taken to task. As per a report by PTI, TRAI will also undertake an audit of the subscriber management and IT systems of operators that don’t...

Regulators TRAI
http://www.indiantelevision.com/sites/default/files/styles/340x340/public/images/tv-images/2019/04/23/TRAI-Story.jpg?itok=c4wGYZo-
Draft regulation on register of interconnection agreements released by TRAI

The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) has issued the Telecommunication (Broadcasting and Cable) Services Register of Interconnection Agreements Regulations, 2019. The primary objective of register of interconnect regulations is to formulate the contours of a reporting system for the...

Regulators TRAI
http://www.indiantelevision.com/sites/default/files/styles/340x340/public/images/tv-images/2019/04/23/trai.jpg?itok=peLRDaxr
TRAI extends deadline for comments on DAS audit manual consultation paper

The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) has extended the date for receiving comments and counter comments on its consultation paper “The telecommunication (broadcast and cable) services digital addressable systems audit manual” to 29 April and 6 May respectively.

Regulators TRAI
http://www.indiantelevision.com/sites/default/files/styles/340x340/public/images/tv-images/2019/04/22/RsSharma.jpg?itok=OSNx8g_7
TRAI consultation paper to address regulatory imbalance between OTT players & tecos

The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) is attempting to handle the ‘regulatory imbalance’ between telecom companies and OTT apps that provide similar services like Facebook, WhatsApp, etc.

Regulators TRAI

Latest News

Load More

Sign up for our Newsletter

subscribe for latest stories