After the Mumbai jihad attacks, it looks as if the Mumbai Police are choosing the route of appeasement and surrender.
Police in Mumbai have blocked more than 650 posts and pages “on a popular social networking site” for allegedly uploading the controversial cartoons featured in the French magazine Charlie Hebdo. Police spokesperson Dhananjay Kulkarni told The Hindustan Times that they are blocking all controversial posts that “they come across”.
Kulkarni also said that the police are “constant touch with the authorities managing the servers of a popular USA-based networking site to immediately block such controversial posts and provide us with IP address of the account holders”. While the site remains unconfirmed, Indian media are raising concerns over the civil liberties implications.
The Hindustan Times also states that Mumbai Police’s Social Media Lab has been directed to investigate posts to discover the identities of the individuals putting up the cartoons.
The Social Media Lab is an initiative which was set up in Mumbai in 2013. Over a period of more than six months last year it blocked more than 100 posts on websites such as Facebook and Twitter. Part of the Lab’s remit is to keep the government briefed about the general public mood. However, direct law enforcement is also a large category of the Lab’s work – it flags and blocks objectionable postings which threaten law and order.
Other Indian police departments are issuing warning or making arrests for sharing or “liking” objectionable content. In Bangalore last year a 24-year-old MBA student was arrested and charged for a satirical posting on Whatsapp which showed the funeral of the current Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
In Karnataka, the government has enacted legislation under which “digital offenders” can be taken into preventative custody. This encompasses individuals planning digital offences and is subject to very broad interpretation.
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