The Indian government blocked around 254 websites today and the list is bound to grow in the coming days as the Home Ministry finally swung into action claiming that these sites indulged in highly inflammatory messages regarding the hate mongering against North Easterners.
With reports suggesting that the SMS scare messages originated initially from Pakistan and they later on went viral among sites run by right wing elements has complicated this issue in more ways than one. Clearly the Home, External Affairs and the IT Ministry has to work in tandem and alleviate the fears and build in confidence among the panic stricken North Easterners residing across India.
While Pakistan had asked India about the proof of its culpability that the Pakistani based social media users created this scare, the Indian Government as per observers need to act swiftly and pin point the IP addresses and provide locational data of those Facebook pages and sites that indulged in hate messages and panic mongering.
In an interview to a news Channel today, Â Sachin Pilot,Minister of State for Communications and Information Technology, defended that the Government acted swiftly and is doing all possible to firmly clamp down acts likes this misusing the massive reach of Internet and social media. His defense comes in the wake of growing criticism that the Government’s reaction to the whole issue was rather slow. However, it will be very difficult for the Government to censor social media, as going by the past experience a selective ban is challenging one and that such a ban will impact and intrude the freedom of millions of legitimate users of social media.
Clearly the Government right now is in a Catch 22 situation- blanket blocking of web sites is just a reactive solution and it clearly needs a more specific and pro-active agenda to curtain cross border digital infiltration and find out a way to monitor social media messages by closely working out with companies like Facebook and Twitter. But it’s easier said than done and clearly the Government needs a pro-active Internet Monitoring Agency with high degree of technical expertise that will certainly help in fighting issues like the one we are seeing right now against the helpless North Easterners.