Indian police set up lab to monitor social media

Mar 18, 2013
The Facebook logo is reflected in a young Indian woman's sunglasses as she browses on a tablet in Bangalore on May 15, 2012. Mumbai police have set up India's first "social media lab" to monitor Facebook, Twitter and other networking sites, sparking concerns about freedom of speech online.

Mumbai police have set up India's first "social media lab" to monitor Facebook, Twitter and other networking sites, sparking concerns about freedom of speech online.

A specially-trained team of 20 will staff the lab, which was launched over the weekend and will work around the clock to keep an eye on issues being publicly discussed and track matters relating to public order.

"They will work under Special Branch. They will monitor and find out which topics are trending among the youth so we can plan law and order in a good way," police spokesman Satyanarayan Choudhary told AFP on Monday.

In November police sparked outrage and fierce debate about India's Internet laws by arresting two over a Facebook post criticising the shutdown of Mumbai after the death of a local hardline .

The pair were arrested under laws including section 66a of the Information Technology Act, which forbids "sending false and offensive messages through " and can lead to three years in jail.

The case followed several arrests across the country for political cartoons or comments made online.

Sunil Abraham, executive director of the Bangalore-based Centre for Internet and Society research group, said the "natural reaction" was to worry about the new police lab given the way the law has been used.

"Police in the last four years have acted in an arbitrary and random fashion, often using the IT Act to settle political scores," he told AFP.

"When there's no crisis for the police, proactively keeping an eye on what people are saying or doing is overkill," he said.

Choudhary said the lab was not set to censor comments, echoing a statement made by police commissioner Satyapal Singh at the launch.

"By reading the of what people are writing on various modes of communication, we will try to provide better and improved safety and security to the Mumbai citizens," Singh said.

Explore further: Survey: Harassment a common part of online life

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Hackers target Indian minister in free-speech fight

Nov 30, 2012

Hackers attacked and defaced the website of India's IT minister on Friday amid a growing campaign against a law governing online comments which has been condemned by free-speech advocates.

Thais warned to stay off Twitter -- or face jail

Jul 03, 2011

Thai police on Saturday warned election candidates and citizens not to use websites such as Facebook or Twitter to continue campaigning on the eve of the national vote -- or risk going to jail.

China tells police to use social media

Sep 27, 2011

China has ordered police nationwide to make more use of social networking sites to ensure greater openness and "dispel misunderstandings", the state Xinhua news agency said Tuesday.

Recommended for you

Google offers peek into Bhutan with Street View launch

2 hours ago

Google provided a sneak peek into Bhutan Thursday by unveiling a Street View project for the remote Himalayan kingdom, featuring panoramic views of its majestic mountains, monasteries and crystal-clear rivers.

Twitter looks to weave into more mobile apps

15 hours ago

Twitter on Wednesday set out to weave itself into mobile applications with a free "Fabric" platform to help developers build better programs and make more money.

Google unveils app for managing Gmail inboxes

17 hours ago

Google is introducing an application designed to make it easier for its Gmail users to find and manage important information that can often become buried in their inboxes.

Fighting cyber-crime one app at a time

22 hours ago

This summer Victoria University of Wellington will be home to four Singaporean students researching cyber threats. The students have been working with Dr Ian Welch, a lecturer in Victoria's School of Engineering and Computer ...

User comments : 0