00:24 GMT08 March 2021
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    In recent days, as the social climate in India has been disturbed amid the ongoing farmers' protests, the monitoring of web platforms has become a priority for the government. The work of moderating social media ramped up after the violence that transpired in Delhi on 26 January - a lot of which was propagated through social media.

    In a bid to tighten its grip on what circulates on social networking platforms in India, the Narendra Modi government is reportedly planning to launch a dedicated national website where people can quickly register complaints about questionable content posted online.

    Currently, if users want some "offensive" content, which does not fall under the category of "crime", to be removed from the web, they need to approach a cyber police cell or a court. With this new website, however, the government aims to provide an alternative mode to report cyber complaints without any police or court hassle, sources familiar with the development have revealed to the media.

    According to the government's plans, each complaint registered on the website will be reviewed and resolved within 48 hours – except for instances involving criminal behaviour, where investigations will be more detailed.

    The federal Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MeitY) is simultaneously working on a "data protection law" that will further regulate the content that stays on the Indian social networking space. 

    India has over 600 million internet users, who heavily consume web services including social networking platforms. Notorious miscreants often misuse these public platforms to incite communal violence, post obscene content, dupe others out of their assets, or threaten others from behind their screens.

    As per data maintained by the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB), 12,317, 21,796, 27,248, and 44,546 cybercrime cases were recorded in 2016, 2017, 2018, and 2019 respectively.

    Recently, the Indian government directed Twitter to remove over 1,500 accounts from its platform for spreading what it called fake news or provocative content around the ongoing farmers' protests in the nation.

    After several legal notices were sent to Twitter, it first argued but then blocked over 500 accounts listed by the Indian government.

    Prime Minister Narendra Modi is bullish on making India "self-reliant", so the escalating measures to moderate social media within the country rather than depending on foreign platforms to tweak their policies does not come as a surprise.

    Netizens have also been actively discussing the moderation of social media in India, however, their reactions are mixed. While some people are batting in favour of the regulations, others are comparing the government's scrutiny to North Korea or China.

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