I&B Ministry floating tender for snooping software: Congress

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New Delhi, June 1 (IANS) Accusing the government of acting like a “Super Big Brother” to intrude into people’s privacy, the Congress on Friday claimed that the Information and Broadcasting Ministry had floated tender for snooping tool/software to monitor social media.

Congress spokesperson Abhishek Manu Singhvi said: “It is the habitual, perennial, repetitive, and ingrained tendency of this government to act as a ‘Super Big Brother’ and to watch you and intrude every aspect of your life, body, and every aspect of your privacy.

“We find a very curious Rs 42 crore tender under which bids are invited from private agencies. This is the worst example of using the taxpayers’ money to snoop on them. The tender is for so-called social media communication hub creation.”

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Singhvi said that the tender officially talks of getting a software to try and create a platform which will be deployed in the private data centre to not only listen to the standard digital channels which are listed but to consolidate them and converge them.

According to the tender, “a technology platform is needed to collect digital media chatter from all core social media platforms”, as well digital platforms like news, blogs and forums “along with a proprietary Mobile Inside Platform in a single system providing real time insights, metrics and other valuable data”.

For the listening and responding capabilities, it said the platform “is expected to not only listen to the standard digital channels listed below but also enable easy extension to integrate proprietary data sources like the mobile insights platform”. The channels are Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Google, Instagram, LinkedIn, Flickr, Tumblr, Google Playstore, Pinterest, emails, news, blogs, forums, and complaint websites.

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Singhvi said that in the entire 66-page tender, “there is not a single safeguard against such strong and tall rules and laws which we have in favour of privacy”, adding that in four years “we have seen how exponentially the Modi government has been violating privacy”.

Noting instances like Namo App and Aadhaar data leak had made it quite evident that the Centre is violating the privacy of citizens, he emanded Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Information and Broadcasting Minister Rajyavardhan Singh Rathore should tell people where are the safeguards in building such a tool, and why “there no consultation with the stakeholders in the IT and data industry before launching such a ‘Social Media Communication Hub’ or publishing such a tender?”

Noting that the tender also called for a “conversation archive”, he questioned its need.

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