Times View: There is inherent risk in govt having powers to shut down internet giants

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NEW DELHI: The spread of fake news via social media has become a grave menace and needs be tackled. But there is an inherent risk in governments arming themselves with powers to shut down + entire media platforms on the grounds that they are being used to disturb public order or threaten national security.

Definitions of “public order” or “national security” are contentious and vague. Global experience shows that social media platforms have also been used to great effect in mobilizing popular opinion and protesting against repressive regimes.

This positive needs to be weighed against the negatives of possible misuse before giving governments sweeping powers. A government with such powers may be tempted to use it to nip any popular mobilization against itself. That possibility hits at the very root of democracy.

What we really need is better intelligence and policing, and rapid and robust response. This will be tougher but more advisable, given the risks inherent in what…

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