The ongoing communal tensions in Muzaffarnagar in western Uttar Pradesh has also questioned the inability of the administration and the police force in tackling the rumor mongering via social media. Blaming social media for the recent blood bath, UP home secretary Kamal Saxena had lamented that checks have to be in place to track social media and messaging apps during such times. Not sure if the UP administration will look at the concern at a later course but the country’s capital police – Delhi Police is looking for vendors for its Social Media monitoring system, reports Medianama.
A tender document for an “Open Source Intelligence (OSINT)” solution published by the police reveals – “Open Source Intelligence is a strategic initiative of Delhi Police to provide aid in the investigation process by providing them actionable intelligence through analysis of the content available on internet in public domains. Criminals, terrorists and anti social elements are using social media websites and other public platforms for conversations and to plan their activities. Presently, Delhi Police does not have any means to extract the content available on the web and convert it into meaningful data to identify criminals or trace their conversations.”
In other words Delhi Police wants to track the online activities and social activities of criminals, terrorists and anti social elements and at the same time gather insights to improve criminal investigation process in a faster response time. Besides this it also wants to analyze data available on the internet and do sentiment analysis. This would help the department in proactively identifying any anti social or criminal motives of a person or group of people.
To make this happen Delhi Police recently met with representatives of 18 companies who have shown interest in providing such a platform. Some of the companies are - Verint Systems Ltd (Gurgaon), Precision Operation Systems Pvt. Ltd (Thane), Keltron Ltd (Kerala), Reliance Security Solutions Ltd. (Gurgaon), HP India sales Pvt. Ltd (Gurgaon), IBM India Pvt. Ltd (New Delhi), eCentric Solution Pvt. Ltd. (New Delhi), HCL Technologies (Noida), etc.
While this is not the first move from Delhi Police to monitor online conversations, the Mumbai Police has already got a system in place. It had been debating for such a system from early 2013 and by March it inaugurated its “Social Media Lab” (SML) , with the aim to keep tabs on the sentiments and activities happening on social media. Later on it was also revealed that the Mumbai Police is going to use the tool provided by SocialAppsHQ for its SML.
It would be interesting to keep a watch on who partners with the Delhi Police in providing solutions. Hopefully it maintains the line between monitoring and snooping. Though I wouldn’t be surprised if the line gets blurred when every government and department wants to keep a tab on the online activities of netizens.