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A proposal to have hubs to monitor social media traffic and trends has been withdrawn, the Union government informed the Supreme Court on Friday.

The decision comes after the court had questioned the proposal in a hearing on July 13, saying this may transform the country into a surveillance state.

The hearing was based on a petition filed by Trinamool Congress MLA Mohua Moitra, who had alleged that the government’s proposal for a “social media communication hub” was a “brazen attempt at mass surveillance”. Ms. Moitra said popular social media sites such as Twitter, Facebook and Instagram would be tracked to identify the “buzz creators” and social media influencers.

Justice D.Y. Chandrachud, who is a member of the Bench led by Chief Justice Dipak Misra, had voiced the court’s apprehensions about the government’s plan, saying that this would pose a danger in a country where privacy was a fundamental right.

Disinformation trend

“The proposed social media communication hub seeks to create a technology architecture that merges mass surveillance with a capacity for disinformation,” Ms. Moitra, represented by senior advocate A.M. Singhvi and advocate Mohammad Nizam Pasha, had argued.

The petition had said the aim of the hub was to “create a technology platform “to collect digital media chatter from all core social media platforms as well as digital platforms”.

With the government having withdrawn its plan for the hubs, the court said the petition was infructuous and disposed it of.

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