Government surveillance changes in India
October 30, 2011 10:31 AM   Subscribe

Research In Motion has established a surveillance facility in India following a authorities applying pressure. Google, Skype, Twitter and Facebook are also under pressure to provide greater surveillance assistance.

Google says they received about 4000 user data requests from Indian authorities during the last year, up from previous years, but not increasing quite as dramatically as during previous years.

India has historically required a court order for wiretapping phone lines, but surveillance powers are increasingly bypassing judicial review for electronic communications.
posted by jeffburdges (26 comments total) 3 users marked this as a favorite

 
India has historically required a court order for wiretapping phone lines, but surveillance powers are increasingly bypassing judicial review for electronic communications.

What is up with the worldwide disintegration of privacy rights under the guise of "security"?
posted by hal_c_on at 11:07 AM on October 30, 2011 [5 favorites]


OBL may be dead but he's left a legacy
posted by infini at 11:18 AM on October 30, 2011 [1 favorite]


OBL may be dead but he's left a legacy

The terrorists sure won this 'un, didn't they?
posted by spoobnooble at 11:40 AM on October 30, 2011


What is up with the worldwide disintegration of privacy rights under the guise of "security"?

I don't want to be in a position of defending wiretapping; I think overreach by the authorities is scary, and had already mentioned here on the blue how the Radia tapes mess was scary not because of collusion between India Inc, politicians and press, but because how the lowly _Income Tax_ department tapped phones without any consequences. I also believe that India's privacy protection institutions need to be strengthened, over and above the Supreme Court's declaration that a right to privacy is implicitly a fundamental right enshrined in the Constitution.

All that considered, it is very obvious as to why the Indian Union is into this. It's simple: presumably after human intelligence, wiretapping is fast becoming the top source of information on terrorist operations. I don't necessarily mean from a long term perspective, but in real time: a crucial part of the 26/11 conspiracy unfolded because US and India were able to tap into Vonage calls from the 26/11 handlers to the operatives on the ground. Here's the scenario: the handlers made calls from Pakistan to a combination of Indian and American SIM cards via a VOIP server in New Jersey. And the Americans somehow tapped into all of that in real-time. (It's all very well-documented; the Wikipedia article has a few citations, the documentary on 26/11 has actual recordings)

You can see why the Indian authorities want at least some part of that pie.

Again, I'm not arguing that any of the continued wiretapping is justifiable: from a values perspective, I still firmly side with privacy, and in being able to restrict the authorities from snooping into citizens' lives. Still, I believe the equation is more complex than it seems; 26/11 is quite fresh in all of our minds, and you'd want the police / army to be able to do more things than handle an AK 56 with bare hands. Certainly, if the Americans can do it....
posted by the cydonian at 12:06 PM on October 30, 2011 [2 favorites]


Does anyone have good data about the numbers of people 'online' in various western countries as well as India. I've been playing around with google's transparency report data, but clearly I'd want people online for India, not just raw population.
posted by jeffburdges at 12:22 PM on October 30, 2011


You'll notice from my playing link that India and Israel requested data on far fewer google users than most western countries, cydonian, especially the U.S., which requested google's data on 35 out of every million inhabitants.

There is imho a very good reason for this : India and Israel know exactly who their enemies are. I've zero problem with those two countries spying on the people they actually consider dangerous, but their courts should determine who qualifies for said surveillance, and the monitoring stuff I've listed here looks mostly extra judicial.
posted by jeffburdges at 12:38 PM on October 30, 2011


infini / spoodnooble

India & Pakistan have long had ongoing hot and cold wars that were little to do with the US government (Kargil hot war in 1999 for instance) - you might have noticed they both gained nuclear capabilities before 2001. Once both sides became nuclear powers, not only was internal 'counter-intelligence' raised, but external powers became even more interested in maintaining stability in the region.

Whilst the massive influx of money into the Pakistani military / SIS budgets by the Americans ($11 billion from 2002-2008, then rising in the last three) has worried India, to suggest that the Twin Towers is responsible for India's stance on internal security is... a bit of stretch. Not to mention that India has also received funding from various sources.

When your neighbour, who has nukes, is slightly unstable and open to tacitly supporting Muslim extremists bombing your country, then you tend to panic.


The USA does not have such a situation with her/his neighbours.
posted by Cheradine Zakalwe at 12:50 PM on October 30, 2011


When your neighbour, who has nukes, is slightly unstable and open to tacitly supporting Muslim extremists bombing your country, then you tend to panic.

Can you cite this "tacitly supporting"?

Not trying to argue...just wondering where that is coming from as its a pretty big accusation.
posted by hal_c_on at 12:55 PM on October 30, 2011


jeffburdges, this source is considered the 'best' that there is afaik for people online by country
posted by infini at 1:00 PM on October 30, 2011 [1 favorite]


UK Right wing paper outlining how Wikileaks exposed Pakistani support for Mumbai terrorist group

If anything, what you're seeing is that the 'behind the scenes' plays that were usually just rubber stamped with official pretense at legality has been discounted because the machinations behind the scenes are in the public realm.

If you really think that Sovereign nations rely on "The Law of the Land" in matters like this... Hmm. NSA / CIA might suggest otherwise.
posted by Cheradine Zakalwe at 1:02 PM on October 30, 2011 [1 favorite]


I should have clarified that I was responding to this observation

What is up with the worldwide disintegration of privacy rights under the guise of "security"?

and not without some knowledge of India/Pak history
posted by infini at 1:03 PM on October 30, 2011


I apologise infini

I'd argue precisely the opposite - privacy rights never really existed under the aegis of 'National Security' for any nation.
posted by Cheradine Zakalwe at 1:06 PM on October 30, 2011


Don't say anything to anyone over a phone or in writing you wouldn't want splattered all over the newspaper the next day. Just a good rule of thumb.
posted by Xoebe at 2:16 PM on October 30, 2011


Britain's largest police force is operating covert surveillance technology that can masquerade as a mobile phone network, transmitting a signal that allows authorities to shut off phones remotely, intercept communications and gather data about thousands of users in a targeted area.
posted by infini at 2:26 PM on October 30, 2011 [1 favorite]


What is up with the worldwide disintegration of privacy rights under the guise of "security"?

All governments want to know what their people are up to, and don't want their people to know what they are up to. In the face of increasingly easy methods for people to communicate about what their governments are up to, surveillance has to be wrapped in a concept that makes people argue and distract themselves at will, because "we are keeping an eye on you because we don't trust you" would piss people off. "Security" just happens to be a concept that works for this purpose.

see also: parents who want to know what their kids are doing, "to make sure you're safe", at all times, but keep information from them because they're "not old enough."
posted by davejay at 4:45 PM on October 30, 2011 [2 favorites]


I've zero problem with those two countries spying on the people they actually consider dangerous,

So in other words driving while Palestinian/Pakistani is the new driving while black.

Reap. Sow. Repeat.
posted by three blind mice at 4:56 PM on October 30, 2011


This is trivial to defeat, and it won't be long before people who are serious about security make sure their communications enter the BlackBerry network already encrypted. There's not really a whole lot you can do in real time if you intercept anything that looks like this:
jA0ECQMCpAeuuGRC0Klg0pcBVj9wWGmyAgpChiSJx96WsW5qYAO9ZlXHp7773Wqs
AOBVY5bNZf2X2QrNOqQoIWA1LaoA/r+06aSudA40tO5qqW2kWXAw9Q4soPNPlcu3
N5lteXZdKe49X+9VH1K9MKk3Tuxc84CM5xnqD2+3o7PJnGoqmbJ7oJiPAqTGJAbq
UvaeCX4QCUxY1lcygmn2CxBI2y/DuFvf
=Dm91

posted by one more dead town's last parade at 5:00 PM on October 30, 2011


infini: "Britain's largest police force is operating covert surveillance technology that can masquerade as a mobile phone network."

This. Is. Creepy.
posted by Sportbilly at 6:48 PM on October 30, 2011


"We don't need you to type at all. We know where you are. We know where you've been. We can more or less know what you're thinking about... We can look at bad behavior and modify it." - Eric Schmidt
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 10:49 PM on October 30, 2011


his is trivial to defeat, and it won't be long before people who are serious about security make sure their communications enter the BlackBerry network already encrypted. There's not really a whole lot you can do in real time if you intercept anything that looks like this:

Where that data will stand out and be amenable to traffic analysis. What frightened governments about BIS messages was that they were all encrypted by default, suddenly a whole swathe of electronic communications goes dark all at once. Then again, so is Gmail.
posted by atrazine at 1:01 AM on October 31, 2011


Where that data will stand out and be amenable to traffic analysis.

And that analysis will do nothing to reveal the content of the messages. Analyze away.

Any company that wants to keep its trade secrets will do this, or ban BlackBerry use in those locations.
posted by one more dead town's last parade at 5:10 AM on October 31, 2011


I've given a moral argument that we should all use more encryption to provide cover for people who need it several times around here. We should of course attempt to stump traffic analysis as much as possible, but that's much harder.
posted by jeffburdges at 8:40 AM on October 31, 2011


I don't know if this goes in the eParasite thread, the Google data thread or this thread, but I figure there's an overlap in readers as there is in topic, so - just for another perspective :

As perceptive communications critics have pointed out, control and management of the internet from a single government, the US, is a cause for concern. The addresses that all internet users corporate and individual use are assigned by the Internet Corporations for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN), a non-profit organisation established by the US government. This means that all email addresses, websites, portals and servers are, as communications scholar Dan Schiller puts it, "supervised by the US by the US."
[...]
Such unfettered unilateral access to global data should have everybody worried, more so governments and large non US corporates. What if, for example, some elements in the US government decided to mine data on countries, organisations and individuals from the internet to further the political, economic or social ends of Uncle Sam?

There is no end to all manner of speculation as to the potential abuse of this power by the US, particularly at a time when the world's single superpower is struggling remain afloat, economically.

The US government would be the first to strenuously deny the possibility of someone intruding into confidential content and accessing the codes that create domain names.

Fair enough. However, what can stop Wikileaks-like hacksters from doing just such a thing? After all the "root servers" that receive and redirect internet content is managed by human beings and as we know, human nature is prone to foibles.

As with WikiLeaks, the initial source was a disgruntled US civil servant with access to the diplomatic cables that have supremely embarrassed governments across the world and changed the face of diplomacy.

For instance, US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is reported to have said that "on their own, new technologies do not take sides in the struggle for freedom and progress, but the United States does; we stand for a single Internet where all of humanity has equal access to knowledge and ideas."

[...]
However, in an ideal situation, IGF or UNESCO would be the best organisational home for the assignment of addresses to the world's netizens individual and corporate.

Decision making on key policy and operational issues on the internet would be representational, with each country represented in one way or another. Indeed, countries such as Kenya, India, China and Egypt have made just such proposals to the US Commerce Department, which interestingly has leverage over ICANN.

posted by infini at 10:36 AM on October 31, 2011 [1 favorite]


Iranian police tracking dissidents aided by western companies
posted by jeffburdges at 10:05 AM on November 4, 2011


Does a fake cell tower constitute a search?
posted by jeffburdges at 10:32 AM on November 5, 2011


India formally proposes government takeover of Internet
posted by jeffburdges at 4:30 PM on November 13, 2011


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