'Social media platforms will be held liable for failure to counter misuse': CEC Sunil Arora | WeForNews | Latest News, Blogs ‘Social media platforms will be held liable for failure to counter misuse’: CEC Sunil Arora – WeForNews | Latest News, Blogs
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‘Social media platforms will be held liable for failure to counter misuse’: CEC Sunil Arora

The Commission has also asked political parties and candidates to sensitise their representative not to indulge in ‘malpractices, malicious propaganda and instances of hate speech’.

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Chief Election Commissioner Sunil Arora
Chief Election Commissioner Sunil Arora

Chief Election Commissioner (CEC) Sunil Arora on Friday said that social media platforms will be held responsible if they fail to make adequate arrangements to counter misuse and don’t take prompt action against adverse posts ahead of the Bihar assembly elections.

“Adverse use of social media platforms has emerged as a new challenge in recent times,” Arora said. “If adequate arrangements aren’t made to counter the misuse of the social media then they will not be allowed to take pretext of being only a provider and shall be held responsible if necessary action is not taken promptly and adequately.”

The Commission has also asked political parties and candidates to sensitise their representative not to indulge in ‘malpractices, malicious propaganda and instances of hate speech’, as such actions will be dealt with ‘sternly’ and ‘harshly’.

“The commission would like to make it emphatically clear that anyone who misuses any such platform, such as for fomenting communal tensions, etc for electoral purposes, shall have to face consequences under the law of the land,” Arora said.

Ahead of the 2019 Lok Sabha polls, the Commission and social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, Whatsapp along with IAMAI had signed a voluntary code of ethics. According to the code, while the participants ‘recognise they are neither the author nor the publisher of such content’, they are ‘committed to helping support democratic processes by improving the integrity and transparency of electoral processes’.

Hindustan Times reached out to Facebook and Whatsapp for a comment but did not receive one until press time. Twitter declined to comment.

Arora’s statement also comes in the wake of the Wall Street Journal reports in August which alleged Facebook had selectively exercised its hate-speech policy to favour the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party. Information technology minister Ravi Shankar Prasad, however, wrote to CEO Mark Zuckerberg saying that the platform allowed people to make posts against prime minister Narendra Modi, with BJP alleging that there was nexus between the Congress and Facebook.

According to Twitter’s recently updated civic integrity policy, a person may not use Twitter’s services for the purpose of manipulating or interfering in elections or other civic processes. This includes posting or sharing content that may suppress participation or mislead people about when, where, or how to participate in a civic process. It, however, makes no mention of propaganda, hate speech and malicious content.

According to people familiar with the matter, the Commission draws its reservoir of power from Article 324 of the constitution. “Elections are conducted under Constitution and the Supreme Court in its judgment has held on a number of occasions that Article 324 gives vast powers to the Commission subject of certain restrictions such as fairness and transparency,” said such a person on the condition of anonymity. The person added that the EC would decide what course to take on a case-to-case basis.

Article 324 allows the Election Commission the “superintendence, direction and control of elections”. The EC had invoked this provision in West Bengal in May last year, curtailing campaigning in the state ahead of Parliamentary elections after clashes between cadres of the BJP and the Trinamool Congress (TMC) in Kolkata.

Experts, however, say the ECI’s powers to regulate the social media platforms are limited.

“Their authority to regulate platforms is not clearly provided,” global cybersecurity lead and Asia Pacific policy director at Access Now Raman Jit Singh Chima said. “They are stretching authority they have to regulate electronic media and threatening companies by proposing to further regulate or prosecute them.”

“It’s commendable that the CEC is speaking about this, however, the ECI has failed to advance any reforms to protect electoral democracy in the digital age in India. Prior to the 2019 general elections, many groups working on electoral reforms, democracy and fundamental rights issues wrote to the ECI and went public with their suggestion on how the ECI can take steps in this area. They also recommended they engage all stakeholders on this important issue and should not only consult political parties in Delhi, web companies and their industry lobby group. This has not yet occurred, which is deeply disturbing,” he added.

Election

Former Unnao MP Annu Tandon Resigns From Congress

In a statement released to the media, Annu Tandon said that she has sent her resignation to party president Sonia Gandhi and requested her to accept it immediately.

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Annu Tandon

Lucknow: The Uttar Pradesh Congress removed senior leader Annu Tandon from the party on Thursday shortly after she announced her resignation citing “misalignment with the state-level leadership”.

Training her gun on the state leaders, Ms Tandon said she has sent her resignation to party president Sonia Gandhi.

When asked about it, UP Congress chief Ajay Kumar Lallu said she “has been expelled from the party for six years on charges of anti-party activities”.

She had “not been taking interest in party programmes for a long time” and the disciplinary committee of the party looked into these charges, Mr Lallu added.

The development comes days ahead of the November 3 by-election in Bangarmau Assembly seat under Unnao, once represented by Tandon in Lok Sabha.

In a statement released to the media in the morning, Ms Tandon said that she has requested Sonia Gandhi to accept her resignation immediately.

While stating that she had continuously received warmth and guidance of Congress president Sonia Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi during her 15-year association with the party, Ms Tandon said there is a “misalignment between the state-level leadership” and she did not see their support coming her way since the past several months.

“The state leadership of the party has focused only on social media management and self branding and is oblivious to the deep divisions in the party and the voters it has thus caused,” Ms Tandon said.

She said canards were being spread about her and her associates by the local, irrelevant, and chosen few.

Terming it both “painful and disgusting”, she said there was no attempt by the party leadership to stem this.

Ms Tandon said she had raised the matter with in-charge of UP Priyanka Gandhi Vadra, who had assured that the Congress president is fully apprised of the situation. However, the matter had remained unresolved.

“My ideology and principles have been aligned with the senior leadership of the party and my resignation does not change this,” she said, adding she would be consulting her workers on the future path.

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Did PM Modi have tea with you all? Rahul Gandhi asks at Champaran rally

Blaming Prime Minister Narendra Modi for migrant crisis, Rahul Gandhi asked why PM Modi has stopped talking about creating employment opportunities.

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Rahul Gandhi Farmers

Addressing his election rally at Champaran, Congress leader Rahul Gandhi on Wednesday doubled down on BJP-JD(U) for “destroying” Bihar as polling is underway in 71 constituencies of the state in the first phase of Bihar Assembly Election 2020.

“When Prime Minister Narendra Modi came here last time he promised that a sugar factory will be set up here and he will have tea with you all. Do you remember? Did he have tea with you?” Rahul Gandhi said. The Congress leader said he was surprised to see Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s effigies getting burnt in Dussehra in Punjab. This is sad and should not happen as he is the prime minister of the country, but this how Punjab farmers feel about him, Rahul Gandhi added.

WATCH: ‘Did PM Modi have tea with you?’: Rahul Gandhi’s jibe in Bihar

“What Nitish Kumar did to Bihar in 2006, PM Modi is doing the same to Punjab and to the rest of the country,” Rahul Gandhi said referring to the three farm laws recently passed by Parliament.

Talking about Bihar’s unemployment, Rahul Gandhi said, “ Nowadays, PM Modi does not talk about jobs. Because Bihar people won’t believe in his lies anymore. Congress has been in Centre for decades. We know how to rule. But of course, we have some shortcomings. We can’t lie through our teeth.”

“Why do Bihar people have to go to other states for jobs? Do our Bihar brothers and sisters lack in anything? No, your CM and PM lack,” Rahul Gandhi said.

On Covid-19-induced lockdown, the Congress leader said, “Noteban and lockdown followed similar trends. PM Modi announced both at the last moment. Middle class and lower middle class people suffered the most, while the industrialists were cushioned.”

Rahul Gandhi will address another rally on Wednesday at Kuseshwar Sthan in Darbhanga. Earlier, he addressed two election rallies, at Hisua in Nawada and Kahalgaon in Bhagalpur, to boost the electioneering for the first phase polls.

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Bihar Election: 53.54% vote in ‘peaceful’ first phase

Due to security and logistical reasons, polling was held in some areas till 3 pm and in some areas till 4 pm while 36 seats were held till 6 pm.

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2019 Election India

Patna: A total 53.54 per cent voters exercised their franchise as polling was conducted peacefully on Wednesday in 71 assembly constituencies in Bihar for the first phase of assembly elections.

H.R. Srinivas, Chief electoral officer of Bihar said elections for the first phase were held across 16 districts including the four Naxal-affected districts of Gaya, Aurangabad, Lakhisarai and Shekhpura.

“The polling was conducted in Naxal-affected constituencies till 4 pm and 37 constituencies till 6 PM. We have allowed voters to cast their votes beyond 6 pm as they entered the polling premises. We have also extended time for some of the booths where polling was started late due to technical errors in EVM and VVPATs,” added Srinivas.

Srinivas pointed out that the polling percentage was almost similar to 2015 when the turnout was 54.57 per cent.

An official of the state Election Commission said that the first phase of polling was peaceful, with no major untoward incident reported from anywhere so far.

In the first phase of elections, 53.54 per cent voters exercised their franchise. The voter turnout was 59.57 per cent in Banka, 54.2 per cent in Bhagalpur, 47.36 in Munger, 55.44 in Lakhisarai, 55.96 per cent in Sheikhpura, 52.51 per cent in Patna and 48.29 per cent in Bhojpur.

In addition, 54.07 per cent people exercised their franchise in Buxar, 56.20 per cent in Kaimur, 49.59 per cent in Rohtas, 53.85 per cent in Arwal, 53.93 per cent in Jahanabad, 52.85 per cent in Aurangabad, 57.05 per cent in Gaya, 52.34 per cent in Nawada and 57.41 per cent in Jamui.

In the first phase, polling was held in 71 assembly constituencies spread over 16 districts of the state. According to the state election commission, 31,371 polling booths were set up for 2.14 crore voters In the first phase, 1066 candidates including 114 women are in the fray.

According to the Commission, EVMs were initially reported to have malfunctioned in several polling booths, but the glitch was later corrected. Paramilitary forces were deployed at all polling booths for the first phase of polling and special preparations were made for the corona.

Due to security and logistical reasons, polling was held in some areas till 3 pm and in some areas till 4 pm while 36 seats were held till 6 pm.

In the first phase, international shooter Shreyasi Singh from Jamui, contesting on a BJP ticket, was one of the prominent faces in the electoral fray. Other prominent candidates include BJP’s Prem Kumar, former Bihar Chief Minister Jitan Ram Manjhi, Krishnandan Prasad Verma, Jai Kumar Singh, Ramnarayan Mandal, Vijay Kumar Sinha and Brij Kishore Bind, among other ministers.

Out of these 71 seats, the RJD has 25 seats while the JD(U) has 23 seats. In addition, the BJP has 13 and the Congress eight.

In Bihar, elections are being held in three phases for 243 assembly seats. Counting of votes will be held on 10th November.

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