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Government exploring options to monitor social media

india Updated: Dec 24, 2015 00:53 IST
Rajesh Ahuja
Rajesh Ahuja
Hindustan Times
Social media monitoring

A government panel is studying the feasibility of setting up a multi-agency control room to keep an eye on social media in real time since its use by militant organisations for recruitment and creating communal tension is on the rise.(File Photo)

The Union government is planning to establish a situation room to analyse social media in real time.

Minister of state for home Haribhai Chaudhary informed the Rajya Sabha on Wednesday about the initiative, which comes against the backdrop of social media being used by militant organisations for recruitment and creating communal tension.

Chaudhary said a committee under the chairmanship of secretary (internal security) Ashok Prasad in the home ministry had been set up to prepare an approach paper in this regard. Members from ministries of information technology, external affairs and central intelligence agencies are among the members of the panel that will look into the feasibility of setting up a multi-agency social media analysis centre.

Union home ministry officials say social media platforms are not only being used for terror recruiting and provoking communal tension but also for mobilising people.

However, the government feels that it needs to take into account privacy concerns before it begins monitoring social media.

In his reply in the upper house, Chaudhary said that terror outfits like Islamic State (IS) and Lashkar-e-Tayyeba (LeT) are active in the cyber space and social media platforms.

“The government is closely monitoring the situation and has directed the intelligence and security agencies to keep surveillance on them. The cyber space is also being closely monitored in this regard.

According to home ministry officials, so far 23 Indians have joined the ranks of the IS fighters and most of them were recruited on social media. More than 60 Indians were stopped from joining the IS and they also got radicalised and identified by the ISIS recruiters in the cyber space.

A recent example was a Tamil Nadu resident Mohammed Naser who was arrested by the NIA for trying to join the IS.

“Naser allegedly got radcalised and started looking for ISIS recruiters to suggest him ways for reaching the Syria. And he found one recruiter as well who suggested him to come to Sudan. The online recruiter also helped him get visa for Sudan and told Naser that he will be deployed in the ISIS-held area in Libya,” said a NIA official.