Social Media Abuse

Source: The Hitavada      Date: 09 Sep 2018 11:24:49












Given the rapidity with which mobile and Internet penetration is increasing, it is vital to spruce up the cybersecurity system with more technological inputs and innovations.


India’s internal cybersecurity system also needs to be strengthened. We have very few cyber police
stations and even lesser number of adequately trained and knowledgeable men in the sphere to modulate the cyber world.


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.
He also emphasised that the purity of the democratic process should never be compromised and promised that India would take measures to deter and punish those who sought to vitiate the process.

It is pertinent to mention that the issue of abuse of social media platforms has been under the 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.

The IT Minister said that the borderless nature of cyber world posed the limitless potential for trade and commerce but only a safe and secure cyberspace could yield benefits of digital transformation for the global economy.
He cautioned that the nefarious use of the internet was a reality that needed to be countered by concerted action. 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.

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. India’s digital infrastructure is powered by 1.21 billion mobile phones (including 450 million smartphones), nearly 500 million internet subscribers and broadband availability and programmes like biometric identifier Aadhaar and Common Services Centres had further strengthened the county’s digital prowess.

New age developments also pose new age problems and we need to find newer ways too to tackle those problems. This is an age of rapid and continual technological and digital advancements and to keep up with the security challenges they pose, we need continuous development of tools.
A fine balance has to be struck between privacy, liberty and security. In the name of privacy, as the Minister rightly said, one cannot hide his nefarious connections and communications. Nor in the name of security people can be robbed of their right to privacy.

In the name of liberty, one cannot post any libel or slang or provocative posts and comments he likes on social media platforms but that also doesn’t mean we can have a clampdown on individual freedom of expression.
To strike the right balance has to consider all the pros and cons of the rules that are going to be laid down. People’s opinion, stakeholders’ issues and experts’ views must be taken into consideration before promulgating laws of usage and dissemination of information.

The Internet is a revolutionary tool but it is an open platform and vulnerable at that. The internet is a potent tool that can be used for doing good and also for doing bad. Those spreading hatred and violence using the tool have to be checked and controlled. In the virtual world, it is easy to abuse the facility and further one’s vicarious interests easily because the internet has no face and no method to check the veracity or reality of the user.

The internet is also not something bound by national or geographical boundaries. It spans nations and unites communities. This too has both its good and bad. If used for uniting for a good cause, it is a boon. But the same internet is also used by terrorists to unite their men and launch an orchestrated attack.

Here comes the need for regulation and check. In the process, there can be some fringe cases of infringement on rights, or perceived cases to that effect, but at times it becomes pertinent for the Government to curtail the ‘freedom’ of some for the general good and peace in society. We are a volatile society where even a spark of the rumour is enough to start a wildfire.

Rumours and fake and insinuating circulations have to be stopped. The digital world has to be made a means of empowerment of the masses, not the strengthening of the rumour mill. We have often suffered violence, clashes and bloodsheds due to the misuse of the social media platforms by vested interest groups.

It is very difficult to have a foolproof security system to track and check all kinds of communications and transactions in the digital world, so vast and intricate it has become. But at the same time, hacking or stealing of personal data and details in the name of security or stealthily for other purposes by any organisation is also unethical and uncalled for.
Such incidents of pilferage are also happening that underscores the importance of securing data so that interest groups cannot steal them. It also needs people’s cooperation and understanding.

It also needs cooperation of the international community to implement an equally strong vigilance and tracking network to minimise the misuse of the internet for anti-social activities because a potentially dangerous message, post or video can originate from anywhere and unless the Government of that country where it generates is proactive and cooperative, it will be difficult to bring the culprit to book.

This lack of coordination and synchronised action between countries often hampers investigations and emboldens the detractors. India’s internal cybersecurity system also needs to be strengthened. We have very few cyber police stations and even lesser number of adequately trained and knowledgeable men in the sphere to modulate the cyber world.

Given the rapidity with which mobile and internet penetration is increasing, it is vital to spruce up the cybersecurity system with more technological inputs and innovations. India is a large country with diverse viewpoints and conflicting interests, which is why harmony has to be paramount and to maintain harmony we need to have some sort of regulation because people are not always necessarily responsible in their actions.

The digital revolution is a new thing for us and the responsible use of the medium will take some time to sync in the people. Till then, we have to be cautious and restrained in the mismanagement of information.