Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Saturday red-flagged misuse of new-age tools, including social media, to spark communal tension but cautioned police chiefs against going overboard with their crackdown.
Singh also nudged them to develop expertise in cyber security since a large-scale computer attack on critical infrastructure and the economy “can have potentially devastating results”.
“Any measure to control the use of such media (social media and bulk SMSes) must be carefully weighed against the need for the freedom to express and communicate,” the PM told the police conference, which ended on Saturday.
Singh’s advice comes in the backdrop of the home ministry blocking bulk SMSes for a fortnight and ordering more than 300 webpages to be shut down long after seeds of discord were sown between communities in Assam.
National security adviser Shivshankar Menon had on Thursday ticked off intelligence agencies for waking up to the online hate campaign only after the panic migration of people from the Northeast in Karnataka following the violence in Assam.
Singh’s speech reflected this assessment. He said that though security agencies busted 19 terror modules, they could not prevent attacks in Mumbai and Delhi last year and Pune this year.