A TMC MLA on Monday challenged in the Supreme Court the Centre’s move to set up a ‘Social Media Communication Hub’ to collect and analyse digital and social media content.
TMC legislator Mahua Moitra wanted the top court to stay the entire project on the ground that it would violate an individual’s right to privacy.
A Vacation Bench headed by Justice S Abdul Nazeer, however, refused to grant urgent hearing to the TMC lawmaker’s petition and asked her counsel Nizam Pasha to either move a high court for urgent hearing or wait till summer vacation got over.
Pasha demanded urgent hearing on the ground that it was the last date for submission of tender form issued by the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting. The government was trying to monitor social media contents of individuals by tracking their Twitter, Facebook and Instagram accounts as also their e-mails, he submitted.
“This will be a breach of privacy of an individual. Under the project, people, right up to the district level, will be monitored,” Pasha said.
The Broadcast Engineering Consultants India Limited (BECIL) — a Public Sector Undertaking (PSU) — recently floated tender inviting bids for supply of software for the project.
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. They would take people’s feedback on government’s policies and follow the news trending in their areas.
“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 says.
The platform is expected to provide automated reports, tactical insights, and comprehensive work-flows to initiate engagement across digital channels, the documents further read.
“The platform may be used to disseminate content and hence, should support publishing features,” the document says, adding that the platform needs to power a real-time New Media Command Room.
It should also help the ministry to understand the impact of various social media campaigns conducted on Centre-run schemes, it says.