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Modi govt trying to invade people’s privacy by creating social media hub: Congress

The Congress claims the Information and Broadcasting ministry had floated Rs 42-crore tender to “snoop and put on surveillance” the social media activities of the users.

india Updated: Jun 01, 2018 23:40 IST
HT Corresspondent
HT Corresspondent
Hindustan Times, New Delhi
Congress,Information and Broadcasting ministry,Narendra Modi
Congress leader Abhishek Manu Singhvi alleges that the social media hub will create detailed profiles of the people by collecting intimate, personal details from social media accounts and emails.(Sonu Mehta/HT Photo)

Alleging that the Modi government was “acting like a big brother” and trying to invade the privacy of people, the Congress on Friday claimed that the Information and Broadcasting ministry had floated Rs 42-crore tender to “snoop and put on surveillance” the social media activities of the users.

Addressing a news conference, Congress spokesperson Abhishek Manu Singhvi accused the government of “flouting the Right to Privacy with brazen impunity.” “We find a very curious Rs 42-crore tender under which bids are invited from private agencies. This is the worst example of using the taxpayers’ money to snoop on them. The tender is for so-called social media communication hub creation,” he said.

“It is the habitual, perennial, repetitive, and ingrained tendency of this government to act as a ‘Super Big Brother’ and to watch you and intrude every aspect of your life, body, and every aspect of your privacy.”

Singhvi claimed that the hub will create detailed profiles of the people by collecting intimate, personal details from social media accounts and emails.

He said the tender talks of getting a software to try and create a platform which will be deployed in the private data centre to not only listen to the standard digital channels which are listed but to consolidate them and converge them. “The listed digital channels are Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Google, Instagram, LinkedIn, Flickr, Tumblr, Google Playstore, Pinterest, emails, news, blogs, forums, complaint websites,” the Congress leader claimed.

Singhvi said the tender is open to bidding by foreign companies. Inviting foreign companies to access sensitive citizen’s data not only violates privacy laws, but also opens up our data to foreign surveillance and is laced with issues of compromising national security, he alleged.

“In the entire 66-page tender, there is not a single safeguard. There is not a single safeguard against such strong and tall rules and laws which we have in favour of privacy.”

While Information and Broadcasting ministry officials were not available for comment, a person familiar with the development said the hub came into existence in 2013 for social media publicity and analysing.

The person quoted above said the request for proposal put out by the Broadcasting Engineering Consultants India Limited aims to select a team with necessary software solutions to analyse social media publicity of government. It has no provision for breaching privacy of individuals, he said.

The integration of platforms and email as mentioned in Request for Proposal (RFP) is to respond to queries of public and does not intend to read private communication between individuals or email, the person said.

First Published: Jun 01, 2018 23:34 IST