Why former BJP ideologue KN Govindacharya is against social media platforms like Facebook & Twitter?
It is no secret that former Bharatiya Janata Party ideologue KN Govindacharya is against social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter.
In July last year, he had filed a public interest litigation (PIL), according to which, children below 18 getting into an agreement with social networking sites to open an account is against the Indian Majority Act, the Indian Contract Act and also the Information and Technology Act.
This led to the Delhi High Court asking Facebook to put a disclaimer on its homepage saying that kids below 13 years of age cannot open accounts on the social networking site, in order to prevent children from getting abused through social media.
In a recent interview with Outlook India, Govindacharya shared why he is against Facebook and Twitter. According to him, such social media platforms are actually siphoning away crucial data from India. He further stated that by being active users of such services, the country's government, as well as its PM are unknowingly helping these platforms in the process.
"When you open a Facebook account, you have to accept a 12-14-page agreement in which you give consent for transfer of all your data from India to the US and also for any type of usage of that data. The Public Records Act clearly states that no government data can be transferred outside India. And here you are signing a written agreement allowing that. How can you do that?" Govindacharya told the publication.
"We object to this legitimising and eulogising of some companies in the name of advancement of technology without looking at issues like tax evasion, national security, content and whether they are abiding by the laws of the land," he further added.
Note that after assuming office, PM Narendra Modi had instructed all his ministers to open Twitter accounts and create Facebook pages. He was also against the meeting between the PM and Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg, stating that it gave the company huge publicity.
"Our crusade began two years ago when hackers threatened to hack the entire nation's network. Then in 2012, Edward Snowden's revelations came in and in 2013 it was confirmed that the US was snooping upon the whole world. This year we learnt that the US was snooping on the BJP. Our petition was filed two years ago and looks at taxation, content and law of the land, apart from national security," he said.
He also pointed out that while companies like Facebook sell the country's data to big advertisers and firms, no service tax, no income tax and no VAT is paid by them.
On being asked whether he brought the issue to the government's notice at any juncture, he said that when confronted, the UPA government said they did not have any official Facebook account.
"But the new government is using Facebook and Twitter. When in the last hearing we pointed to this, the additional solicitor-general said there was no official account on Facebook and Twitter. Everything was in personal capacity. So even the PMO is being used in personal capacity?"
In a bid to ensure security for confidential government information and tackle cyber-spying by the US, the government has proposed a national email policy under which the use of Gmail (the email service from Google) or Yahoo will be banned for official communication. It seeks to ban the use of foreign email service providers that have their servers outside India, and will push them to stick to National Informatics Centre's official email service.
Unsure about the effectiveness of the policy, Govindacharya mentioned that only five lakh out of 50 lakh government employees have official e-mail ids to begin with.
Also, giving the example of the stand-off between the government and BlackBerry where the latter was forced to bring its server to India, Govindacharya asked why Facebook can't do the same.
"At the governmental level, a policy initiative should be taken and at the enforcement level law should be enforced. Unfortunately, on both the fronts, governments have failed. We have been fighting the PIL for two years and the kind of feet-dragging exhibited by the government shows that they are neither serious nor sincere," he concluded.