Manipur Police ADGP urges all districts to set up social media cells



The ADGP directive comes just months after two people in Manipur were booked by the NSA for their Facebook posts that criticized the use of cow dung as a treatment for COVID-19.

Manipur Police Supplementary DGP (Intelligence) last week instructed all District Police Superintendents (SPs) to set up ‘social media cells’ to monitor posts on various social media platforms and report any “illegal content, community messages, etc.,” according to an Indian Express report on Tuesday.

The report states that the instruction sent as a departmental message on July 15 asks members of the social media cell to-

  • Bring to the attention of ADGP all illegal and community “posts / downloads / comments posted in all dialects of Manipur†on various social media platforms.
  • Submit a bimonthly report on findings starting in the 2nd half of July and thereafter on the 3rd and 18th of each month.
  • Encourages members to contact the Cybercrime Police Station for any technical assistance they may need.
  • He asks notified service providers to immediately set up such a cell “if they had not done so before” and “swift legal action should be taken whenever necessary”.

In its report, the Indian Express said that Manipur Police established their social media cell following an order from the Director General of Manipur Police in 2020. The additional DGP (intelligence), Manipur led this cell, with all district SPs, including SP CID, as members.

Despite several attempts, ADGP could not be reached for comment. K. Meghachandra Singh, PRO, Manipur Police told MediaNama that although he could not confirm whether such a message was issued as it was only circulating between PSs, social media is regularly monitored for any content. problem. “As a (former) district SP, I know it was our job to check what’s going on – it’s happening all over the country – to check who is writing what incriminating things. Law and order is our domain and we need to check all of these things, â€he said.

Why is this important? Earlier this year, in May, Imphal journalist Kishorechandra Wangkhem and activist Erendro Leichombam were detained by Manipur police under strict National Security Act (NSA) for their Facebook posts. According to The Print, the two had published an article about the ineffectiveness of cow dung and cow urine as a treatment for Covid-19, following the death of BJP state president S. Tikendra Singh, because of the virus.

“Cow dung, cow urine didn’t work. Argument without merit. Tomorrow, I will eat fish, â€translated Wangkhem’s Facebook post.

Following an order from the Supreme Court, Leichombam and Wangkhem were subsequently released from prison.

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In granting bail to Leichonbam, the SC judiciary led by Judge DY Chandrachud said: “We are of the opinion that the continued detention of the applicant in this Court would constitute a violation of the right to life and liberty. personal under article 21 of the Constitution. . ‘

Provisions under the new IT rules for law enforcement

The new information technology rules (interim guidelines and codes of ethics for digital media), 2021 which entered into force on May 25, 2021, also contain provisions allowing law enforcement agencies allow the identification of the “first sender of information†as a mechanism of last resort. in the event of a threat to public order, national security and sovereignty, etc.

According to these rules, intermediaries must –

  • Remove or disable access to information less than 36 hours obtain an order from the court or an appropriate government agency under section 79 of the Computing Act.
  • Provide information for identity verification, or assist any government agency with crime prevention and investigations no later than 72 hours after receipt of a legal order.
  • Maintain content records that it has disabled access or deleted for 180 days for investigative purposes. This period may be extended by a court decision or by a government body empowered to do so.

Important social media intermediaries or social media intermediaries with more than 50 registered Indian Lakh users will also need to appoint a nodal contact person for 24X7 coordination with law enforcement agencies and officers to ensure compliance with their orders.

Social media monitoring by law enforcement: a model

Several states such as Maharashtra and Bengal had launched their own social media monitoring initiatives within their state police departments. Earlier this year, Delhi police had also been monitoring social media in the days leading up to and later, during the investigation into the clashes that erupted on January 26 at Red Fort this year.

In 2018, Scroll reported that the central government was using an advanced application for social media analysis or an AASMA tool designed by the Indraprastha Institute of Information Technology. According to the report, the tool could collect and analyze “live data†on users of “multiple social networks,†including Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, Flickr and Google+. It can track social media profiles, their posts, and connection networks to identify ‘top users’, perform ‘sentiment analysis’ of their posts to classify them as ‘positive’ or ‘negative’. This would have been used by 40 departments.

In the same year, the government issued a tender for the creation of a social media monitoring center that could function as a search engine, web crawler, and social media crawler for research various hashtags and keywords on social media platforms. This was challenged in the Supreme Court by TMC MP Mahua Moitra and then withdrawn following the court’s statement that such tenders push India to become a “watch state”.

Subsequently, in 2020, another similar tender for social media monitoring was issued, making it the ninth time that such an attempt has been made.

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