The I&B ministry’s proposal to integrate a chip in DTH set-top boxes to monitor the television channels that people are watching is bound to be a non-starter. The courts are unlikely to endorse this form of spying on citizens, particularly given the shindig already raised over the constitutional validity of the Aadhaar system. This is a blatant invasion of personal privacy in the guise of determining more accurately what people are watching with a chip on set-top boxes. It is nothing but targeted marketing of the kind that is frowned upon globally. Whoever thought this up at a time when the world is so concerned about gathering of meta-data and their safekeeping deserves to be admonished.
The fear that we are becoming a police state as seen in the dystopian world visualised by George Orwell is not without foundation. At a time when Facebook is being hauled up before US congressional committees, the very thought of a ham-handed gathering of viewership data by a government that can’t guarantee the sanctity of data is abhorrent. The Congress, the main Opposition party, is voicing a genuine concern when it fears that India is becoming a surveillance state given its zeal in pursuing methods to monitor what people are doing. Would Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Cabinet colleagues like to reveal what they are up to in the privacy of their homes, what channels they watch, and whether any of them are pornographic, and so on? It would be best if another quixotic idea from the I&B ministry, like media controls, is shot down before it takes off.