The Supreme Court on Monday refused to grant an urgent hearing to a plea filed by a Trinamool Congress legislator for a stay order on the Centre’s move to set up a social media tool to collect and analyse social media content.
A vacation bench of Justice S Abdul Nazeer and Justice Indu Malhotra asked Trinamool Congress MLA Mahua Moitra to either approach a High Court for an urgent hearing or wait till the Supreme Court’s vacation is over, PTI reported.
“This [the proposed social media hub] will be breach of privacy of an individual,” Moitra’s advocate Nizam Pasha told the court. “Under the project, people, right up to the district level, will be monitored.”
The court did not accept Pasha’s argument that it was an urgent matter as the last date of submission of the Centre’s tender form for the social media tool was Monday. The advocate said the Narendra Modi-led government was trying to monitor the social media profiles of individuals on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram, and their e-mails.
The Congress and the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam have criticised the Centre’s plan to monitor social media with an analytical tool ahead of the 2019 General Elections. “They will misuse this tool to shape the narrative, influence the voters, to adopt unethical and unfair means to grab democracy rather than earn the trust,” Congress spokesperson Jaiveer Shergill said in May.
DMK Working President MK Stalin said that the government’s plan “raises serious issues of illegal surveillance and marks the beginning of a totalitarian regime”. He urged the Centre to “stop all such unconstitutional endeavours”.