Indian Government now mulls over Cyber Surveillance Agency to monitor web

Controlling the Internet and social media seems to be the top priority of policy makers in modern day India.  The center is now thinking of setting up a dedicated ‘cyber surveillance agency’ to monitor web and social media networks for malicious and inflammatory content.

The latest move is to keep a close watch on web content which is available in public domain and have possible implication on law and order. The agency will also warn central security agencies including the state police to take preventive measures.

Last week, we reported how the center is asking  internet service providers and mobile phone firms to build ‘embedded technologies‘ that would enable it ban social media and other websites in specific geographies.

As per report, the proposed agency would be equipped with an effective monitoring system which can scan the malicious or inflammatory content over web and social media platforms in real time and forewarn the government about the malicious use. However, the planned agency will be formed after constituting a legal regime to take care of the issue of individuals’ privacy and citizens’ freedom of speech and expression.

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Meanwhile, the government is also preparing a legal framework to tweak the existing Information Technology Act so as to deal with situation like recent north east exodus triggered by internet rumors. The government also pointed out the need of public guidelines and operating procedures to be set by government and internet service provider in such situations.

This is not a first time Government is planning for such agency. In November 2009, following the gruesome terrorist attack (26/11) on Mumbai, government had setup a Central Monitoring System (CMS) to automatically monitor communications on internet, mobiles, and landline phones. At that time, CMS was aimed to reduce the manual intervention and provide instant interception.

Last week, following the uproar over anti Islamic movie – Innocence of Muslims in Libya and Egypt, Government of India asked Google to ban 11 YouTube videos that contain excerpts of the movie. As we anticipated, Google acted swiftly on ban orders backed by courts ( in this case J&K court ordered a ban the excerpts of movie).

The last couple of years have been particularly intense for the Indian cyber world with the government making repeated attempts to tame Internet.