India’s social media monitoring plan worries Supreme Court

FILE PHOTO: A TV reporter places his camera on the premises of the Supreme Court in New Delhi on February 18, 2014. REUTERS / Anindito Mukherjee / File photo

NEW DELHI (Reuters) – A government plan to monitor social media could turn India into a “watch state,” the Supreme Court said on Friday, asking the government to address such concerns within two weeks, said a lawyer involved in the case said.

The government wants social media users to be monitored and fake news identified, and the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting in April invited companies to bid to do so.

But a member of parliament challenged the plan, after which a bench of three Supreme Court judges began hearing the case.

“The monitoring and regulation of social media content will turn us into a state of surveillance,” observed one of the three judges, according to the applicant’s lawyer, who declined to be identified.

Indian media also reported that the Supreme Court raised concerns about the social media follow-up plan.

The Ministry of Information and Broadcasting did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Highlighting the danger of so-called fake news in India, a spate of hoaxes posted on social media recently led to a wave of lynchings.

Facebook Inc’s WhatsApp messaging platform posted advertisements in Indian newspapers on Tuesday aimed at combating the spread of disinformation.

Writing of Sankalp Phartiyal; Editing by Robert Birsel

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