India The blurred line between defense and cyber censorship

Pierluigi Paganini December 11, 2011

In this article I wish to bring to your attention what I regard as gross contradiction of a nation whose people I admire for their professionalism and dedication to work, India. In my previous article “Cyber India” lights and shadows of the country full of contradictions I presented a picture of the nation in terms of cyberwarfare, nation aware of the threat that is fighting against many internal difficulties. It is preparing to adopt measures to strengthen its position in cyber space. Just as I was writing, confirming that which has been described related the potential threat looming, a disturbing news has been published on the web:

China hacked India’s intel network: Assange

What’s happen? China hacked India’s intelligence network and the West intercepted mails and phone calls from India, that’s Wikileaks founder Julian Assange’s stunning disclosures at HT Leadership summit.

Julian Assange said, “Telephone connections and e-mails from India that go through the Pacific (Ocean) can be intercepted and are being intercepted by the West. The information acquired from their intercepts are used as economic intelligence.”

He also says that:

“Chinese intelligence penetrated into the intelligence system of the Indian government including the Indian equivalent of FBI, the Central Bureau of Investigation,”

“Information on foreign bank accounts held by Indians will come out within the next year,”

This event, as you can imagine, can be really dangerous for economic stability of India and for its reputation. Of course we are free to believe or not the statements of Assange, always at the center of fierce debate, however, the problem referred is real.

We are faced with a Nation that is going to play a crucial role in the global economic arena in the coming decades, but that is totally unprepared for events like this before.  To be honest, India is beginning to worry about managing the cyber threat, but probably not in the best way.

The Information Security and Analysis Center (ISAC) has initiated efforts to enlist the best and brightest among India’s ethical hackers in an effort shore up the nation’s cybersecurity posture. India is also looking to establish itself as a global leader in addressing cyber security issues. In October, Indian Communications & Information Technology Minister Shri Kapil Sibal and the EastWest Institute (EWI) hosted the Third Worldwide Cybersecurity Summit in New Delhi,India.

“To combat cyber crimes and make the cyberspace secure, there is a need for greater government-to-government collaboration on sharing of information, global vision to deal with hackers, legal framework that addresses the requirements at the global, and wider public-private collaboration,” said Sibal.

The “New Delhi Summit Process,” is composed of three high-level working groups comprised of Indian and international experts. To each group is assigned specific cybersecurity issues:

  1. secure the global IT supply chain
  2. standards, policy and regulations governing the cloud computing industry
  3. secure encryption, taking into consideration the governments’ need for surveillance to foster national security.

Excellent you say. Fully shared the approach of the Government. But while I’m congratulating with them a news has appalled me.

Indian Minister Kapil Sibal seeks to censor User-Generated Content Online. How he will do it? Using humans to screen content and not technology, he said after a meeting with officials from Facebook, Google, YouTube and Yahoo on Monday, 5 December 2011.

He asked them to screen what goes on the sites. Internet censorship in India should not be a norm in a democratic country like India. Censorship of internet is bypassing the constitutional mandates amount to anarchy that should not be the norm in India.

Internet in India is under potential threat of censorship and e-surveillance. Internet censorship and e-surveillance in general in India have increased to intolerable limits.

In first time the Government proposed central monitoring system (CMS) project of India  without any parliamentary oversight, after the development of an Internet kill switch also given by India without public consent. Hey … but a Internet kill switch and censorship action are not a solution to cyber threats.  I’m not surprise if what Assange have declared is really happened.

What is more worrisome is that e-surveillance and Internet censorship systems in India have increased without any lawful interception law in an unconstitutional manner.  To worsen the situation Internet intermediaries in India have been asked to analyze and monitor contents before they are posted on their platforms. India wants companies like Google and Facebook to censor users’ contents.

The government seems hasn’t understood where the cyber threat came from and this could lead to unnecessary distractions and a delay in the homogeneous development of the Country.
Gentlemen attention, the threat is elsewhere! In this way you are fighting only the privacy of the citiziens!

They are watching in the wrong direction!

Pierluigi Paganini

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