Social media platforms will not be allowed to abuse election process, says Ravi Shankar Prasad
New Delhi, Aug 26: India has taken "serious note" of reported data misuse of social media platforms and such tools will never be allowed to abuse the election process for extraneous means, IT Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad has said.
According to an official statement, Prasad, speaking at the plenary of the G-20 Digital Economy Ministerial meeting in Salata, Argentina, also emphasised that the purity of democratic process should never be compromised and promised that India will take measures to deter and punish those who seek to vitiate the process. "...Prasad also said that India had taken a serious note of reported misuse of social media platform data...such platforms will never be allowed to abuse election process for extraneous means...," the release said.
It is pertinent to mention here that the issue of abuse of social media platforms has been under scanner in India over the last few months and the government has resolved to take tough action to prevent any platform misuse
. In fact, the CBI has recently initiated a preliminary enquiry against British political consultancy firm Cambridge Analytica for alleged illegal personal data harvesting of Indians from Facebook. Meanwhile, speaking at the G-20 event, Prasad also mooted that a part of revenue generated by digital platforms need to be reinvested in host markets, the official release said.
The IT minister said that the borderless nature of cyber world posed limitless potential for trade and commerce but only a safe and secure cyberspace can yield benefits of digital transformation for the global economy. He cautioned that nefarious use of internet is a reality that needs to be countered by concerted action, the official release added.
Prasad further said that the use of cyber mediums to spread radical thought posed a challenge that needed to be addressed both domestically through better regulations as well as international cooperation.
Assuring that India is taking all possible steps to make the cyberspace safe, he warned that instances of cybercrime or cyber threat will be dealt with severely by the government. Outlining India's concerns about data protection and individual privacy, Prasad said that while privacy cannot prohibit innovation it can neither become the shield for the corrupt or terrorists. He noted that the Supreme Court, while upholding the right to privacy has also elaborated these aspects and hence a fine balance needs to be struck between data availability, innovation, anonymity and privacy. Data is needed to improve business but that data must be anonymous, objective, and taken with consent, he added.
India's digital infrastructure is powered by 1.21 billion mobile phones (including 450 million smartphones), nearly 500 million internet subscribers and broadband availability, he said adding the programmes like biometric identifier Aadhaar and Common Services Centres have further strengthened the county's digital prowess. Terming Digital India as a mass movement, he said that its digital story was one of inclusion and empowerment. The Digital Economy Ministerial Meeting was chaired by Andres Ibarra, Argentine Minister of Modernisation, and Lino Baranao, Argentine Minister for Science, Technology and Innovative Production, and attended by 33 heads of delegation.