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Regulating social media will transform India into surveillance state: SC

The Supreme Court on Friday agreed to examine the report filed by the Central Government to set up a ‘Social Media Communication Hub’ for monitoring online data, and observed that it will be “like creating a surveillance state”.

The three-judge bench of the top court, headed by Chief Justice of India Dipak Misra, comprising of Justice A. M. Khanwilkar and Justice DY Chandrachud issued a notice to the Union Government on a plea filed by Trinamool Congress (TMC) MLA Mahua Moitra and sought a reply within two weeks.

The court has also sought Attorney General K K Venugopal’s assistance in the matter.

Justice Chandrachud observed, “Tracking and regulating social media contents will transform us into a surveillance state.”

Mahua Moitra had challenged before the Apex Court the decision of the Central government to monitor social media content at a district level.

The Supreme Court also slammed the Centre’s step to monitor social media content.

On August 24 last year, a nine-judge bench of the Apex Court declared that privacy is a constitutional right. The judges were unanimous in their finding. In their order, the judges cited various reasons for their conclusion and said: “The right to privacy is protected as an intrinsic part of the right to life and personal liberty under Article 21 and as a part of the freedoms guaranteed by Part III of the Constitution.”

The Information and Broadcasting Ministry had floated a proposal for the creation of a ‘Social Media Communication Hub’ which will enable the ministry “to grasp the effect of various social media campaigns conducted on various schemes run by the Government of India” to “improve the scope” of such campaigns and “to make a specific theme trending”.

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