Tuesday, March 22, 2016
Information and Communication Technology (ICT) has changed the way we looked at traditional Human Rights and Civil Liberties. Traditionally Human Rights were confined to physical and mental aspects only. However, with the advent of ICT, Human Rights and Civil Liberties have assumed a totally different meaning. Unfortunately, the legislations around the world are still lagging far behind that required to protect Human Rights in Cyberspace.
India has been deliberately violating Privacy Rights of its Netizens through various e-surveillance projects and its phone tapping activities. We have no dedicated Privacy Laws and Data Protection Laws (PDF) in India as on date. Successive Indian Governments have clearly signaled through their "conducts" that they are not at all interested in protecting Privacy Rights in India. The Narendra Modi Government even mentioned in the Supreme Court of India that there is no Privacy Right in India under the Indian Constitution.
This article is discussing the controversial issues of censorship and e-surveillance in India under the projects like Aadhaar, Digital India, national intelligence grid (Natgrid), etc. Till now it is clear that surveillance and censorship under Digital India and Aadhaar is widely practiced in India.
Adoption of digital India project by Indian government has always been portrayed as a social and welfare oriented initiative. Digital India is treading exactly on similar lines as Aadhaar has worked so far. As Aadhaar has increasingly been tied up by Indian government with digital India, there is no escape from the conclusion that the combination of Aadhaar and digital India is a digital panopticon.
Further, it is also obvious that surveillance and censorship under digital India and Aadhaar regimes are omnipresent. The blog title Internet, Mobile And Social Media Censorship In India By Twitter, Facebook, Google, Etc has been cataloging the censorship and surveillance activities of Indian government and technology companies like Google, Microsoft, Facebook, Twitter, etc for long. A dedicated page titled censorship and surveillance under digital India has also been opened to report about surveillance and censorship activities of Indian government. Censorship and surveillance under Aadhaar project has also been covered by us.
Anyone who is active on social media websites like Twitter, Facebook, etc is well aware that critical tweets and sharing are oftenly censored in India. Twitter is on the forefront of this exercise where Aadhaar and digital India related critical tweets are censored in real time.
As far as e-surveillance is concerned, Indian government is infamous for its blatant e-surveillance with no regard to the constitutional norms. Aadhaar is the final nail in the coffin of civil liberties that are openly violated by Indian government. Civil liberties protection in cyberspace is absent in India. There is no e-surveillance policy of India (pdf) that can govern the illegal and unconstitutional e-surveillance and phone tapping activities of Indian government and its agencies.
Worst part of this situation is that parliamentary oversight of intelligence agencies of India is still missing till date. To give overreaching and illegal e-surveillance and phone tapping powers in the hands of such intelligence agencies is a death knell of civil liberties. India “must reconcile” the civil liberties and national security requirements but the same is presently missing. Clearly India has become a police state with unaccountable Orwellian powers.