Amid growing concerns over malicious use of the Internet and electronic social media, the Centre has decided to formulate “standard operating procedures” for timely action to curb content that may pose a threat to law and order. Government organisations will be given more legal teeth so that Internet firms cannot take refuge under the law of the nations where they are registered.

Following recent law and order incidents which arose from uploading of inflammatory content on the Internet, leading to an exodus of northeast Indians from Bangalore and other southern cities, National Security Advisor Shivshankar Menon called a meeting of top government officials to “evolve a legal and administrative regime” to deal with malicious content. It was decided that the “Ministry of Home Affairs lead a group of departments and agencies concerned in preparing guidelines and standard operating procedures for dealing with malicious use of the cyberspace,” while the Department of Electronics and Information Technology (DEIT) would prepare a “comprehensive policy paper outlining the structure, mandate and tasking of the proposed mechanism for responding to malicious use of the Internet.”

The Home Ministry would authorise the Intelligence Bureau, the Defence Research and Development Organisation, the National Technical Research Organisation, the Indian Computer Emergency Response Team (CERT-In) and other cyber organisations to monitor the web and social media services, while the NSA would hold regular meetings to take stock of the situation.

Indian agencies to be empowered

“Apart from giving a push to improve research and design capabilities as the use of encryption in Internet content is getting more complicated, the plan is to legally and financially empower Indian agencies dealing in cyberspace security. Similarly, the legal position on whether the law of the land or the law of the intermediaries will take precedence in cyberspace also needs to be clarified while putting a legal regime in place,” a senior Home Ministry official told The Hindu.

An effective monitoring system, comprising technologically empowered cyber monitoring and surveillance agencies, was being evolved. It would forewarn the government against such threats. “Similarly, a legal regime will soon be in place that will fill the gaps in the IT Act for dealing with such situations, though it has been stressed that the regulatory regime should be enforced judiciously,” said the official.

The meeting was attended by the Cabinet Secretary, the Home Secretary, the IB Director, the DEIT Secretary, the Telecom Secretary, the heads of the CERT-In and the NTRO, and the DRDO Secretary.

Currently, the CERT-In, under the DEIT, is the nodal agency that orders blocking of Internet content.

This article has been corrected for an editorial error.

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