Can some good sense prevail and all the political parties will refrain themselves from falling in SOCIAL MEDIA trap.

Cyber Awareness Organisation has been relentlessly working for awareness of various Cyber Security Issues and Cyber Awareness campaigns since last few years.

If recent news reports are to be believed, “Technology companies like Google Inc. and social networking websites like Twitter Inc.,Facebook,Whatsapp and many others, which get a majority of their revenue from online advertising, expect their India revenue to rise substantially this year with political parties spending more money on digital media than in the previous general election”. India’s poll campaign spend, has been estimated at Rs 30,000 crore ($4.9 billion) by the Centre for Media Studies, which tracks spending.

According to a report by the Internet and Mobile Association of India (IAMAI) and market research firm IMRB, political parties set aside around 2-5% of their election budgets for spending on social media. Recent media reports have put the media spending by the Congress and the BJP during elections at about Rs.500 crore and Rs.400 crore, respectively.

Facebook has launched a ‘Register to Vote’ initiative, while Twitter is offering a service where users can follow someone through a missed call or text message, the ASSOCHAM paper added. Now these “Register to Vote” or “Follow through missed call or Text message” will certainly enhance existing database of these social media sites and will be added feature for them in marketing further services.

The below mentioned explanation will prove the point I want to make. “These days many candidates go for paid campaigning through the social media. Those who focus on Facebook spend about Rs 4-5 to create a single fan. If there is a page with one lakh fans, you can imagine the total expenditure and amount generated by Social Media websites.

Apart from Facebook, candidates are also adopting digital strategies like delivery of recorded messages on mobile phones. An amount of Rs 10 per call is being spent on voice/data message. The campaigning through SMS mode has taken a back seat after TRAI issued strict guidelines on unwanted messages, sources said.

Applications like Whatsapp are widely used to reach to young voters by some candidates. Video sharing is another prominent strategy.

American multinational Google Inc recently submitted to Delhi High Court that it is not liable to pay any taxes in India for its internet activities, as it is not providing any taxable services or earning income from here nor does it have a permanent establishment in the country. Google Inc. has further contended in its affidavit that it “is not providing any taxable services in India, neither has a permanent establishment in India nor is it earning any income which is arising from or accruing in or deemed to be arising or accruing from India.”Furthermore, Google Inc is not receiving any payment in the nature of ‘royalty’ which may be taxable either under the relevant Indian laws or under the Double taxation Avoidance Agreement between India and USA.”
Same is case with all other social media service providers and hence very fundamental question comes in mind that Indian Elections are making these social media companies richer for which they are not paying any taxes in India. In other words estimated 2% of 30000 crore @600 crore will be paid to foreign based social media companies.
What a shame as on one hand election issues such as bringing Black money parked outside India back is bitterly fought all the national parties are officially transferring white money outside India.
Can some good sense prevail and all the political parties will refrain themselves from falling in this trap of money drain??????

Advocate Mahendra Limaye
Cyber Legal Consultant

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