An RTI has revealed that the government had been monitoring social media accounts of citizens for at least two years before the Supreme Court quashed a tender that would have allowed it to do so, the Business Standard reported on Wednesday, 5 December.
The report said the government had been monitoring citizens’ digital footprint through a social media communications hub of the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting.
The tender was floated in April this year to extend and upgrade the ministry’s already-running scheme for another year, until the 2019 general elections.
The tender was withdrawn after the Supreme Court had warned, while hearing a petition in August, that monitoring every tweet or message will make India a “surveillance state.”
What the RTI Reveals
The documents showed that the I&B Ministry had hired the firm, ObjectOne Information Systems Limited, to monitor social media for up to two years.
ObjectOne’s services included installing a software and a “listening tool” that could monitor “individual social media user(s)/account(s),” identify “influencers” and monitor “overall responses to a message, tweet or data,” the report said.
The RTI, filed by Venkatesh Nayak of the Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative in May, was initially denied but the information was shared after an appeal was filed against it.
The report said the I&B Ministry and ObjectOne Information had not responded to questions regarding the RTI.
(With inputs from Business Standard)
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