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Analysis Citizen Voices

Fighting With Broken Guns: Is The Government Opening One Front Too Many With Web Regulations?

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It is very encouraging that the current regime is identifying all grey areas in the country and trying to address the offshoots of major problems across the board. For instance, the government’s attention has suddenly converged on the ills of social media. It would be quite OK, even admirable – provided the spirit behind the government’s efforts here is to rectify existing anomalies and straighten the path for a truly ethical rectification of those engaged in unethical practices online.

Having said all that, I am equally worried by the government opening up so many fronts for itself to fight on. That in of itself might be an act of gallantry, but fighting with broken guns on all these fronts becomes an act of folly instead.

My reasons for this assessment are very simple. The present government rests on a weak combination of splintered factions. The allies are not on one page, as many sources within the government suggest. The cabinet and administrative office-holders of the government appear completely unprepared for the tasks before them. The mismanagement regarding the Army Chief’s extension is just one example of this. The shortages of flour, sugar and ever-increasing prices of essential goods are another glaring example of the broken and split policies on the part of a distracted cabinet.

A house divided from within is unlikely to be able to concentrate and successfully focus on new avenues.

Returning to the issue of social media regulation, it must be admitted that the need for a regulatory framework cannot be emphasized enough. While it provides a communication link to the globe and an opportunity for research, transfer of knowledge, positive publicity and outreach it also has a number of potential and actual drawbacks. It can be used for negative propaganda, spreading misinformation, raising false alarms, disseminating immoral materials and blackmail.

If the purpose behind the present measures on the part of the government is to improve and regulate social media under an acceptable ethical framework, the effort would be definitely applauded.

On the other hand, if it is going to be a package of restrictions and forcing the people to uncritically accept the narrative of the government, it must be reconsidered. If the goal is to bring them cheap popularity and try to mould the public opinion to their advantage forcefully, it would simply give rise to yet more negative sentiment against the regime. In that case, it would simply produce friction between society and those seeking to control it.

Therefore, the measures being taken to regulate social media on the part of the state need to be calculated very carefully indeed.

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