Government plans inter-ministerial panel to handle Internet focused issues

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The government may set up an inter-ministerial panel for issues pertaining to internet governance, commerce and security in a weeks time, reports Mint. The panel is likely to be headed by the Department of Electronics & Information Technology and will have representation of multiple ministries such as the Department of Telecommunication, Home, Commerce and External affairs, said the report citing sources. The motive is to improve coordination among the various arms of the government and arrive at a consensus on Internet related issues.

Few days ago, it was reported that the government is also setting up an Internet surveillance agency to monitor web and social media for malicious and inflammatory content.

The move came after the government recently found itself at the receiving end of fierce criticism for its ham handed attempts at Internet censorship during north-east episode last month. Following the spread of inflammatory content and doctored images, government had blocked 280 web pages, 16 twitter handles including those of journalists like Kanchan Gupta and Shiv Aroor. The government also placed a  limit on bulk text messaging for 15 days.

Governing the Internet and the social web has been high on the government’s agenda for the last 2-3 years. Last month, the government had accepted the independent Rajya Sabha member from Bangalore Rajeev Chandrashekar’s proposal to review the government stand on establishing a United Nations Committee on Internet Related Policy (UN-CIRP) through open public consultation.

Earlier in November 2011, government of India had formally proposed the establishment of a new institutional mechanism within the United Nations for global Internet-related policies. The government’s proposal of having a global body to regulate Internet content has been attracting strong criticism from various internet groups, civil society groups, activists and hacktivists.These groups argue that time and again the government is taking unilateral decisions on Internet governance.

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