Modi and his ministry’s usage of social media for official purposes by signing the unlawful agreement raises serious questions of Rule of Law and National Security alleges K.N. Govindacharya.
Social Media had played a vital role in the victory of Narendra Modi in the Lok Sabha election. It was imperative on the part of new government to put much emphasis on social media wherein various ministers (Maneka Gandhi, I&B, Govt as per following links) are pressing for opening of accounts on facebook, Twitter etc without understanding the legal intricacies or pending matter before Delhi High Court where previous government has filed affidavits for usages of social media. Modi is one of the tech-savvy politicians and has been pushing the use of social media for information dissemination. Nearly 90 per cent of his ministry already exists on social media for interacting with the people and receive feedback instantly.
The government is not following the law as Maneka Gandhi’s ministry has opened a Facebook account. However, the most important question remains. Is the Government ignorant about the law?
Virag Gupta, Advocate said, “Section 4 of the Public Records Act, 1993 clearly states that the public records cannot be taken out of India, without the approval of the Central Government. Section 9 of the Act makes the violation of Section 4 a punishable offence with jail time of up to 5 years along with fine. These issues were raised in PIL filed by K.N. Govindacharya former BJP ideologist and petitioner in the Delhi High Court.”
Mr Govindacharaya said, “I have raised various legal issues in relation to the social networking websites including threat to national security, non-payment of taxes by such companies, unlawful usage by Govt. authorities and violation of privacy laws by commercial usage of data of individual users without consent etc.”
The petition also raised the point of government using private email services and the presence of accounts of government on social networking websites. When the issue of Public Records Act was raised in Court, the Government through its affidavit said that it is in agreement with the Act and that it is framing an email policy which is in consonance with the law in India, including Official Secrets Act, Public Records Act, and IT Act etc. Government counsel had submitted to the Delhi High Court that no official account by any government department exists on any social networking website but it seems that the current government is unaware of the submissions made in the court and also the law.
In further submissions, the petition also covered the leakage of NSA documents by Edward Snowden and showed that the transfer of data of Indians to USA is a threat to national security. However, despite the law being already there, the reality is that the National Investigative Agency was using Gmail to ask information about Hyderabad Bomb Blasts case. Details about a bomb blast investigation are very sensitive and are important for national security, transfer of such data to foreign countries is a serious threat to national security and the same was taken seriously by High Court.
The petition highlighted the use of Facebook by terrorists and accordingly Govt. was asked to explain and authorities appeared before the HC as reflected in order of the Court. The risk of use of social media by the government can also be gauzed from the fact that a teenage boy from Lucknow had the control of the PMO handle on twitter. For 15 minutes, Lucknow teenager Qaiser Ali was the proud owner of the Prime Minister’s official Twitter handle. But his glory was short-lived as Twitter India swung into action and took away his rights from the account.
The official PMO handle, @PMOIndia, had been changed by the Prime Minister’s communication advisor Pankaj Pachauri without the social media company being alerted. As a result of his changes, the official handle—Twitter’s equivalent of a user identity — was inadvertently made open to all.
Minsters are duty bound to comply with laws passed by the Parliament. Usage of social media for official purposes by signing the unlawful agreement raises serious questions of Rule of Law and National Security.
The Government employees will be given e-mail accounts for “mandatory” use in official communications and use of Internet services of “external service providers” will be prohibited, the Centre has told the Delhi High Court.
In a petition filed by Political Activist K.N. Govindacharya its was mentioned that Government does not recognize any signature other than a digital signature as an electronic signature which will fulfil the criteria of Section 3 A of the said Act and that is the reason why the schedule is blank. In future when such a technology is developed it would certainly be considered for being added to the said schedule.
For opening of account in FB or others one has to sign the online agreement which have following clauses (details as per annexures) which are against Law and that’s why government can neither sign such agreements nor use such Social Media accounts-
- Export of data outside India which is not only against sovereignty but also against the Official Secrets Act and Public Records Act.
- Usages of such data for commercial purposes by American companies.
- Grievance officer (which is yet to be appointed by most of the companies inspite of court order dated 23rd August to the government) posting in Ireland and issues of jurisdiction of Indian Law and court and whether government can sign agreement wherein jurisdiction is of European Court or US Courts.
- Various other illegalities by such social media companies and non payment of taxes in India.
- All such social networking websites do not have their servers in India and all the data directly goes out of the country. On the contrary Europe, China and USA have strict laws by which servers are to be placed in those countries only.