Regulators

Supreme Court questions MIB’s digital chatter monitoring proposal

Online monitoring would be "like creating a surveillance state", apex court observes

https://www.indiantelevision.com/sites/default/files/styles/smartcrop_800x800/public/images/tv-images/2018/07/13/MIB-2-Story.jpg?itok=XVgu2T-f

NEW DELHI: The government proposes, Supreme Court disposes. Well, almost. Not fully yet. Though, the apex court has questioned a Ministry of Information and Broadcasting proposal to monitor digital chatter and online footprint, observing today that if done it would be "like creating a surveillance state".

The top court said the government wants to tap citizens' WhatsApp messages and sought its response within two weeks, according to a report filed by Press Trust of India.

A bench of Chief Justice Dipak Misra and Justices A M Khanwilkar and D Y Chandrachud issued notice to the federal government on a plea by Trinamool Congress (TMC) legislator Mahua Moitra and sought Attorney General K K Venugopal's assistance in the matter.

"The government wants to tap citizens' WhatsApp messages. It will be like creating a surveillance state," the bench was quoted by PTI as having said earlier in the day.

The bench then said it was listing the matter on 3 August 2018, before the opening of the tender on 20 August 2018 for the proposed monitoring cell. The attorney-general or any law officer for the government will assist the court in the matter. As reported by Indiantelevision.com earlier, the project’s deadline has already been extended several times.

 The project being undertaken under a seemingly harmless name of Social Media Communications Hub, however, has aims 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.

Meanwhile returning to the Supreme Court, earlier on 18 June 2018 the court had refused to accord urgent hearing on the TMC member’s plea seeking to stay a central government move to set up a 'Social Media Communication Hub' that would collect and analyse digital and social media content.

The counsel for Moitra had said that the government is trying to monitor social media content of individuals by tracking their social media accounts such as those on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram, and their e-mails.

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 elaborated.

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 as this condition, missing in the original tender document, got added later.

Latest Reads

https://www.indiantelevision.com/sites/default/files/styles/340x340/public/images/tv-images/2020/01/25/mib.jpg?itok=JuRmWGdb
MIB advises channels to carry sign language interpretation of R-Day ceremony

The Ministry of Information and Broadcasting has released an advisory to all the channels regarding the carriage of sign language interpretation of Republic Day ceremony. All the channels can carry the feed from DD Bharati/ DD News of the president of India's speech and Republic Day-parade with...

Regulators I&B Ministry
https://www.indiantelevision.com/sites/default/files/styles/340x340/public/images/tv-images/2020/01/24/trai.jpg?itok=wGAg4pHI
TRAI extends deadline for comments on CP ‘Transparency in Publishing of Tariff Offers’

MUMBAI: The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) has further extended the deadline for receiving comments on Consultation Paper on "Transparency in Publishing of Tariff Offers" till 7 February and counter comments till 21 February. The authority had issued a Consultation Paper (CP) on "...

Regulators TRAI
https://www.indiantelevision.com/sites/default/files/styles/340x340/public/images/tv-images/2020/01/24/prasar.jpg?itok=fPM3TaqT
Prasar Bharati sells four MPEG-4 slots for Rs 66 lakh

MUMBAI: Prasar Bharati has sold four DD Free Dish MPEG 4 slots on pro-rata basis for the period from 1 February 2020 to 14 March 2020 to four channels for Rs 66 lakh. The channels are Samay (Hindi News), 9X Jalwa (Hindi Music), Sangeet Bangla (Bangla Music) and JK 24x7 News (Hindi News).  Bidding...

Regulators I&B Ministry
https://www.indiantelevision.com/sites/default/files/styles/340x340/public/images/tv-images/2020/01/22/mib.jpg?itok=GKaYIpAk
I&B Ministry warns Jammu & Kashmir DPOs against carrying unauthorised channels

MUMBAI: The Ministry of Information and Broadcasting (MIB) has issued a warning to MSOs and cable operators in Jammu and Kashmir. In a communication issued by joint secretary Vikram Sahay, it has unequivocally asked them to cease transmitting unauthorised channels on their cable TV networks and...

Regulators I&B Ministry
https://www.indiantelevision.com/sites/default/files/styles/340x340/public/images/tv-images/2020/01/18/TRAI_800New.jpg?itok=9WoQKCqk
TRAI report: Broadband sector saw growth of 36.52% in 2019

MUMBAI: TRAI in its annual report has stated that in the last ten years a substantial number of HD pay television channels have been launched by broadcasters. As on 31 March 2019, there are a total of 99 operational HD channels. Let’s have look at detailed description below: Internet and Broadband...

Regulators TRAI
https://www.indiantelevision.com/sites/default/files/styles/340x340/public/images/tv-images/2020/01/14/trai.jpg?itok=sXQD1k-u
Bombay HC grants no interim relief in IBF's NTO case; matter posted for 22 Jan

MUMBAI: After the broadcasters moved to Bombay High Court on Monday, the high court has issued notice to the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) for filing response. The matter has been listed for next hearing on 22 January. No interim relief till the next hearing.

Regulators TRAI
https://www.indiantelevision.com/sites/default/files/styles/340x340/public/images/tv-images/2020/01/13/bombayhighcourt.jpg?itok=y_yJGLpg
IBF files writ petition against TRAI in Bombay High Court

MUMBAI: Amid the ongoing dispute in the broadcasting industry regarding amendments to the tariff order, the Indian Broadcasting Foundation (IBF), along with other broadcasters, has filed a writ petition in the Bombay High Court against the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI).

Regulators High Court
https://www.indiantelevision.com/sites/default/files/styles/340x340/public/images/tv-images/2020/01/13/trai.jpg?itok=YOMOhnkd
TRAI backs NTO 2.0, says amendment to create level playing field

MUMBAI: The Telecom Regulatory and Authority of India (TRAI) has backed the amendments made in the New Tariff Order (NTO) claiming it to be consumer-friendly. Issuing a statement, TRAI said that it will create a level playing field for all stakeholders in the broadcasting industry. The regulator...

Regulators TRAI
https://www.indiantelevision.com/sites/default/files/styles/340x340/public/images/tv-images/2020/01/10/tv.jpg?itok=mLiBca2S
Comment: Divide and rule – TRAI's way of regulating the broadcasting sector

Indian broadcasting has been going through a challenging period not just because of competition from new digital platforms and falling ad revenue but by a hyper-regulator, the Telecom Authority of India (TRAI). 

Regulators TRAI

Sign up for our Newsletter

subscribe for latest stories