Does your privacy matter to the Government?

  • In a research study, the UK-based research firm Compritech has found that India’s among the world’s top three surveillance states in the world after China and Russia.
  • According to their research, the Indian Government systematically failed to maintain privacy safeguards, even though the right to privacy is protected as a fundamental under Article 21 and as a part of the freedoms guaranteed by Part III of the Constitution since August 2017.
  • Ireland, Norway, Denmark, and France topped the list as the safe havens.

According to this report, the Indian government lacks necessary laws in place to safeguard the privacy of Indian citizens. India’s Supreme Court upheld the Right to Privacy as a Fundamental Right in 2017 and thus gave unanimous judgment in the favor of a petition challenging the constitutional validity of the Indian biometric identity scheme Aadhaar.

Even after the judgment, the Indian Government has failed to put an end to the dreadful AADHAR scheme. And why would they? After all, they have access to the most important asset of the 21st century, i.e., the biometrics.

They know everything about us and what can be more personal than our fingerprints and iris scans. And it doesn’t stop there, the Government has been pressurizing Facebook to give them the ability to trace Whatsapp messages.

Personal Data Protection Bill, 2018 that was supposed to be brought in effect last year is nowhere to be seen till now. But the question is, “Even if the Bill will be in effect, what will happen to the AADHAR data that has been unlawfully collected? Will the Government put an end to that scheme? I think they wouldn’t do that because it gives them immense power.”

And whatever that you have read till now is just the tip of the iceberg. AADHAR and Whatsapp messages traceability issues are just needles in the haystack of Mass Surveillance technologies that the Indian Government has silently built over the years to snoop on their own citizens in the name of National Security.

Now, we are going to talk about something that you probably would never have heard about because no one talks about it. We are going to talk about the existing surveillance technologies that Indian agencies have been using for quite some time now but the pathetic Indian media is busy talking about how a Bollywood movie did on the Box-office.

Indian Mass Surveillance Projects

Central Monitoring System (CMS) Project – The Indian Government set up the Centralized Monitoring System (CMS) to automate the process of government-approved Lawful Interception & Monitoring of telecommunications. Basically, it means that all of your phone calls and e-mails can be intercepted by 9 central agencies of the country including R&AW and IB and there is nothing lawful about it. And do you wish to know the best part about it? Those agencies don’t even need a warrant from the court. So, next time please avoid talking against the government on a phone call because you never know who’s listening. And don’t blame the Modi Government for that because it has been functional since 2013, although the current government should be questioned about it.

NETRA NETRA stands for NEtwork TRaffic Analysis and it was developed by CAIR, a laboratory of DRDO. Well, CMS was just for the telecommunication. But do you think that the Internet is safer? If you think so, you can’t be more wrong. NETRA was developed to tackle the very same thing. Network Traffic includes all the stuff that you do on the internet. And it’s interception has been made a click-away by NETRA. NETRA can analyze voice traffic, intercept messages using keywords from the enormous number of tweets, status updates, emails, instant messaging transcripts, internet calls, blogs, forums and even images generated on the internet to obtain the desired intelligence. And it has been in existence since January 2018. You might think that if you are not a terrorist then why should you worry? Well, because you are so strong you wouldn’t mind sharing your personal chats and moments with the government now. Would you?

National Intelligence Grid (NATGRID) – The above two projects were cheap. NATGRID’s initial budget was 1100 Crore Rupees. Wait, I know Nirav Modi and Vijay Mallya did bigger scams but NATGRID is no joke. Under NATGRID, 21 sets of databases will be networked to achieve quick, seamless and secure access to desired information for intelligence & enforcement agencies. It means that NATGRID will allow the collection of a host of information from government databases including tax and bank account details, credit card transactions, visa and immigration records and itineraries of rail and air travel. Basically, you can expect all those departments to have your Biometrics from AADHAR too. And again, this is just the tip of the iceberg.

Now, we understand that all of these steps are necessary for National Security and we completely endorse their use to stop terror activities as well as to counter international attacks. But these projects also give immense power to those who use it. We have seen all the governments around the world use their power to suppress dissent and snoop on their citizens, simply because they can do it without fear. There should be measures in place to avoid the misuse of these dangerous activities just for the personal gain of the governments, such as Personal Data Protection Bill, 2018. Our motive is to inform people about what the government is capable of doing and that “PRIVACY IS A MYTH“.