A Blow to Freedom of Speech: Mumbai Police to monitor Social Networking Sites

Mumbai Police recently announced to set up a social media lab (first of its kind in India) to monitor Facebook, Twitter and other networking sites.

According to media reports, a specially-trained team of 20 police officers 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. A Blow to Freedom of Speech! Just few months back in November, police sparked outrage and fierce debate about India’s Internet laws by arresting two young women over a Facebook post criticising the shutdown of Mumbai after the death of a local hardline politician.

These young ladies were arrested under ‘Section 66a’ of the Information Technology Act, which forbids “sending false and offensive messages through communication services” and can lead to three years in jail. The case followed several arrests across the country for political cartoons or comments made online especially on social netwokring sites.

With setting up a ‘social media lab’, a huge question has been posed to country’s one of the most intricate rigth of freedom of speech tothe citizens of our country by our constitution?

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