Govt’s online data monitoring project, Supreme Court issues notice

The court listed the matter for further hearing on August 3.

With the Union Information and Broadcasting Ministry looking to set up a social media hub for monitoring online data, the top court compared it to creation of a surveillance state.

The Supreme Court has issued notices to the central government and sought its reply within a matter of two weeks.

The apex court issued notice to the Centre 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,” a bench of Chief Justice Dipak Misra and Justices A M Khanwilkar and D Y Chandrachud said.

The court listed the matter for further hearing on August 3.

On June 18, the Supreme Court had refused to accord urgent hearing on the 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 tender document states that “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”.

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