Updated: March 19, 2021 1:52:30 am
Union Minister for Law and Justice and Information Technology Ravi Shankar Prasad Thursday told the Rajya Sabha that it was a “larger question” to be considered whether “some people abuse social media internationally to defame India, to promote secessionism”.
The minister was responding to a question from Congress MP G C Chandrashekhar. “Twitter was asked by the Government to block 1,178 accounts for allegedly spreading disinformation on the farmers’ protest. The sedition charges were filed against climate activist, Disha Ravi, for editing a Twitter toolkit. This is not going to suppress the voice of the citizens. I would also like to know the reasons for ordering such a ban,” the MP asked.
In his response, Prasad said that India was “proud” to have 140 crore users of social media networks such as Linkedin, Whatsapp, Twitter and Facebook. “They have empowered ordinary Indians; they ask questions, and the Government welcomes dissent. The issue is not of use of social media, the issue is of abuse and misuse of social media.The second point is that Internet is a powerful invention of human mind, but it should not become the monopoly of a few. We have taken a position that any attempt to create imperialism of Internet by a few companies is not acceptable. Now, coming to the specific question, this is something based upon law and order. The police has taken action. It is under judicial process. Based upon reason, this House has to consider this. Should some people abuse social media internationally to defame India, to promote secessionism, is a larger question to be considered,” Prasad said.
Responding to a question by MP Narendra Jadhav, who had also asked about the norm for social media posts to be removed in a 36-hour period, Prasad said the government was not inclined to “interfere” in content gradation at this stage. “The guideline is very clear that you have to remove that within 36 hours only if it relates to the unity and integrity of India, safety and security of India, public order and the most important, the dignity of the women, which we have added, because, of late, a lot of morphed pictures, compromising, etc., used to come there…there was a long debate in this House on fake news and dignity of women. As a Minister, a commitment was taken from me that these will be strengthened, apart from court orders. Therefore, we have clearly classified the kind of posts which have to be down immediately within 36 hours,” Prasad said.
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