Lynching due to social media content, says govt panel

Updated on Aug 29, 2018 11:42 PM IST

A home ministry official said the panel has taken the view that lynching is basically part of the overall issue of malicious and pornographic content floating in the cyber space.

India has been pushing Facebook Inc’s WhatsApp to get tough on fake messages that have prompted a rash of lynchings in India.(Bloomberg)
India has been pushing Facebook Inc’s WhatsApp to get tough on fake messages that have prompted a rash of lynchings in India.(Bloomberg)
Hindustan Times, New Delhi | By

A panel of secretaries has told the government that incidents of lynching are part of a larger problem of unchecked malicious content on websites and social media platforms that target children, women and minorities, and that Indian police and security agencies need to increase their presence in the cyberspace to check this kind of content.

The government formed the panel of secretaries, headed by Union home secretary Rajiv Gauba, to formulate its response on growing incidents of mob violence. Around 34 people have been lynched across nine states in the past year, according to publically available data.

The panel on Wednesday submitted its report to a group of ministers headed by Union home minister Rajnath Singh, which will take further call on the issue and present the final recommendations to the Prime Minister.

“The panel has taken the view that lynching is basically part of the overall issue of malicious and pornographic content floating in the cyber space. The content targets vulnerable sections like children, women and minorities...

“There is need to remove to this content from cyber space to address the larger issue. The government has held a series of meetings with the social media platforms in this regard,” said a home ministry official who spoke on the condition of anonymity.

India has been pushing Facebook Inc’s WhatsApp to get tough on fake messages that have prompted a rash of lynchings in India. In a meeting with WhatsApp executives earlier this month, IT minister Ravi Shankar Prasad asked them to form a corporate entity in India and appoint a grievances officer.

The home ministry official added that Indian law enforcement agencies need to increase presence in the cyberspace.

“It is like having more security personnel on the ground but a fine balance will have to maintained considering privacy concerns,” said the official.

According to the home ministry official, both options, strengthening the law and having a new one “are available to the group of ministers.”

The group of ministers comprises external affairs minister Sushma Swaraj, transport minister Nitin Gadkari, law minister Ravi Shankar Prasad and social justice and empowerment minister Thawar Chand Gehlot as its members.

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