The Congress on Monday attacked the Narendra Modi led government over its latest proposal to install a chip in set-top boxes to get accurate information about channels people watch and viewers pattern. The Congress dubbed the move as the “next stage of surveillance,” and called the government “surveillance sarkar.”
The proposal was moved by the Smriti Irani led Information and Broadcasting Ministry. Congress communications in-charge Randeep Surjewala alleged that I&B Minister Smriti Irani wanted to now know what shows people watch within the four walls of their bedrooms.
Surjewala tweeted, “In a serious breach of privacy, Smriti Iraniji wants to know what show you watch on your TV, within the four walls of your bedroom, without your permission! Why?” “‘Ab ki baar Surveillance sarkar’. The right to privacy broken into pieces,” he added.
The proposal was moved by the ministry in order to ascertain viewers pattern and collect more authentic figures for every channel. An official in the ministry, told news agency PTI, “This would help advertisers and the DAVP to spend their advertising expenditure wisely. Only those channels which are widely watched will get promoted,” the official added.” According to reports, the ministry told the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI), “It is also proposed to ask DTH operators to install a chip in the new set-top boxes which can give data about channels watched and their duration.”
The fresh move is seen as a bid to end the monopoly of Broadcast Audience Research Council India (BARC), which primarily samples the viewership and provides data to different channels. The ministry official alleged that the BARC is “almost like a monopoly and there is no alternative” and it “does not reveal how they arrive at the viewership figures, the methodology they apply and the area of the survey”.