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Anti-lynching measures: social media sites to be held responsible

Writer and activist Arundhati Roy listens to a speaker in New Delhi on August 9, 2018 during a protest against mob attacks.

Writer and activist Arundhati Roy listens to a speaker in New Delhi on August 9, 2018 during a protest against mob attacks.   | Photo Credit: AP

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Panel says they need to act in a ‘time-bound’ manner against fake posts

A panel headed by Union Home Secretary Rajiv Gauba, which deliberated on measures to check incidents of lynching, submitted its report to a Group of Ministers headed by Home Minister Rajnath Singh.

From May-June, more than 20 people were lynched based on fake posts or rumours floating on various social media platforms.

The panel deliberated on such incidents and is learnt to have come to the conclusion that social media platforms also needed to act in a “time bound” manner.

 

A senior government official said social media platforms — Facebook, WhatsApp, YouTube and Twitter — would be made accountable for not blocking such malicious posts/videos when brought to their notice and “FIR could be lodged against their country heads” for non-compliance of government orders and they could be prosecuted under law.

Talks with stakeholders

The committee of secretaries, headed by Mr. Gauba, held consultations with a cross-section of society and other stakeholders before submitting its report to the GoM.

The GoM will now submit its recommendations to Prime Minister Narendra Modi for a final decision, a Home Ministry official said.

The panel report will now be discussed by the GoM whose members are External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj, Transport Minister Nitin Gadkari, Law Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad and Social Justice and Empowerment Minister Thawar Chand Gehlot.

“We have stepped up engagement with social media platforms. There is a provision in law which enables government to issue orders to remove objectionable content, block websites etc. Law enforcement agencies should be able to step up the act and monitor more proactively,” said the official.

He added that the social media platforms were given a report showing their compliance with the various government orders. “Compliance should be timely, they have agreed to better it. Some countries employ NGOs and volunteers who proactively surf the Internet. We have created a portal where people can report such videos and content and that can be forwarded by the National Crime Records Bureau [the nodal body] to States concerned for appropriate action,” the official said.

Last month, the Home Ministry issued advisories to States and Union Territories following Supreme Court’s directives to check incidents of lynching.

Special task force

The Centre asked them to appoint an officer in each district at the level of Superintendent of Police, set up a special task force to gather intelligence, and closely monitor social media contents to prevent mob attacks on suspicion of being child-lifters or cattle smugglers.

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Printable version | Dec 13, 2019 7:39:43 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/anti-lynching-measures-panel-submits-report-to-rajnath-singh-led-group-of-ministers/article24812462.ece

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