External Affairs Minister Salman Khurshid has joined the ranks of Indian officials who feel social media needs to be regulated. While speaking at The Telegraph National Debate, Khurshid said, “Social media is effective today because we are equal. It is the equality of social media and your ability to manipulate and use technology that gives you the freedom – a freedom which then, perhaps, needs to be regulated. It needs to be regulated because every freedom has to be regulated.”

“I have never known of equality being regulated but I have known of every freedom (being regulated).” He added, “Please read the Constitution and if you are a true Indian, please bow to the Constitution, which says reasonable restriction on all your freedom – on your freedom of speech, freedom of work, freedom of action,” he added.

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The freedom arising out of social media use needs regulation, says Khurshid (Image credit: Getty Images)

Last year, in light of the Northeast exodus and the subsequent revelation of the role of social media, the nation's Communications Minister Kapil Sibal stressed on the need of an institutional mechanism to prevent the misuse of social networking websites in the country. “We have to make efforts in consultation with the websites and impress upon them to create an institutional mechanism to prevent misuse of technology,” he was quoted as saying outside the Parliament House. It was also revealed that the government was working along with social networking websites towards creating an institutional mechanism to check the misuse of social networking websites in the country.

Sibal opined that if technology was misused, there should be a provision for punishment. He said such a thing is not available at the moment. He added, “Now we have to decide the steps we have to take under our laws on how we can take it forward so that we can seek help from these websites in the coming days. We can identify those who have misused these website and punish them.”

As for the topic of freedom of the Internet, Sibal opined that users should be free to express their opinions while being accountable for what is being said. “Above all managing the Internet needs consensus amongst stakeholders – Government, business, civil society, etc,” added Sibal, while inaugurating a conference.

Sibal was speaking at the India Internet Governance Conference (IIGC 2012) organised by FICCI in Delhi, in association with the Ministry of Communications and IT, and the Internet Society.

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