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Indian government to intercept, monitor, and decrypt citizens’ computers (venturebeat.com)
371 points by Down_n_Out 87 days ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 163 comments



And here is the natural born right to privacy that Americans have, as well as the rest of the world in my own opinion:

Bill of Rights, amendment 4:

"The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized."


India's Supreme Court Upholds Right to Privacy as a Fundamental Right

https://www.eff.org/deeplinks/2017/08/indias-supreme-court-u...

These are new powers and they are intrusive but they will likely get challenged in the court based on above judgement. Honestly though very few of average citizens care for government to take notice.


That's a nice ideal, but in practice, isn't the NSA tracking cell phones and digital chatter? I'm pretty sure if you mention "dhijad", "Bomb", and "US president" with one of your buddy, you'll be added to a list


Many constitutionalists consider three-letter government agencies to have constitution-violating powers that produced evidence that should otherwise be consider null and void by courts.


You've just been added


We need to pay attention to the phrase "particularly describing the place to be searched". We need a way to define 'location' within a digital landscape. One possibility is to add a second dimension to the definition. An example: "location and time of storage". I'd like to see us push (as a society) that searches of "information" must notate the very "disk sector"/"network segment"/"geographic point to within 5ft" upon which the information sits AND specify a time limit (can't look at data after x number of years - not solvable right now maybe?).


I would consider digital files to be akin to "papers and effects", and would be subject to the same discretion under a warrant. (I.e. the evidence we're looking for is specifically in this app's chat log from [reasonable date] to [reasonable date])


Devotion to the quasi-religious idea of “natural rights” is not nearly as surprising as the belief that what are very clearly political compromises of the late 18th Century somehow perfectly captured such rights.


ALL human morality is quasi-religious. Democracy is fundamentally a moral philosophy. The crime of murder is "natural rights".

Our whole society is built on natural rights.


And from what I understand, this was a new point of view from governments at the time. The idea of natural born rights was kind of in stark contrast to how governments usually operated: with authority and a lack of respect of human rights.


The concept of natural rights that underlies the Constitution developed over thousands of years through a process that involved both extensive deliberation, and extensive practical experience.

We ignore the wisdom of moral tradition to our own detriment.


Well are you trying to be surprised, or are you trying to defend your natural born rights? It sounds like you're not interested simply because it's redundant.


> Well are you trying to be surprised, or are you trying to defend your natural born rights?

False dichotomy much?

I find the idea of natural rights to be of mixed value (beyond perhaps the case of a single natural right to something that might loosely be stated as that degree of liberty which does not intolerably impinge on the liberty of others), and the idea that the particular details of political compromises made by long-dead politicians define the proper scope of such rights actively harmful to efforts to appropriately balance liberty with other concerned for real live people living today.

> It sounds like you're not interested simply because it's redundant.

I'm not interested in efforts to treat political compromise as holy writ.


If I'm understanding you, it sounds like you don't necessarily consider "natural rights" to be the best facilitator for "liberty", and that you're dissatisfied with people who praise that kind of idea. Am I close?

If so: what's your point? I'm trying to defend the rights we have, and it seems like you're just arguing about the method at which we assign rights and liberty? You seem really smart, can you give us some tips on saving/changing the system for the better?

By the way, those long-dead presidents who created the world's most liberating government framework, were alive less than 300 years ago. That's not long at all.


>I'm not interested in efforts to treat political compromise as holy writ.

The concept of natural rights started with philosophers, not politicians. You seem like you need to do a little more reading on this subject.


> The concept of natural rights started with philosophers, not politicians.

No, it started largely with politicians who were also philosophers (whether you look at the ancient roots with Cicero and Seneca or people like Locke who were instrumental in crafting the modern view of natural rights.) But, in any case, it is irrelevant to the bit you quote and respond to, which is about people citing particular provisions of the US Constitution as definitive expressions of natural rights, not about the mere concept of natural rights.


You don't have to believe that they reflected such rights perfectly, to believe that they did reflect them better than our current arrangements, though.


It's a nice right in theory, but in reality, stop-and-frisk, border control, parallel construction, 'I smelled weed in the car', 'I had a hunch', 'the drug dog gave me a signal', 'we got an anonymous tip (from an illegal search, via parallel construction)' all exist, and are regularly employed in the United States.

They also tend to be disproportionately targeted at particular, inconvenient, segments of the population.


I agree that cynicism is warranted, but an alternative view is that rights and freedoms are gradually being offered to a wider and wider percentage of the population. We start off with rights reserved for all wealthy white landowners... along the way we get more rights for people of all races... both males and females... and so on as our reality comes into greater conformance with our ideals.

This is the "arc of the universe is long but it bends towards justice" narrative that Obama and MLK have favored; it resonates with me at least, even though I certainly believe there remains much work to be done.


That narrative is only applicable retrospectively. It doesn't say anything about the future. Whichever way the arc of the universe bends, we call justice.


It's not a narrative, it's a forecast. It reflects a belief that divinely inspired human intelligence will win over evil. MLK was an activist, not a historian. If justice was the same as history, we wouldn't have a word for justice.


And when those phenomena are fought, it is on the basis of the Constitution.


The success of fighting it only works as well as 'where does public opinion on the issue currently lie'.

The constitutionality of a law is a political red herring. My favorite example of this is gay marriage. All the way between 1776 and 2015 it was illegal - yet somehow, magically, in 2015, banning it became unconstitutional.

Did the Constitution change in 2015, without us noticing? Did the lawyers advocating for it figure out some sequence of utterances that made a lightbulb go off in the heads of the judges?

No. What happened is public opinion changed.

The constitution gives you theoretical rights. Whether or not you actually have any of them is a direct product of what the public thinks of you


> Did the Constitution change in 2015, without us noticing? No. What happened is public opinion changed.

Another great example of the same phenomenon is how the US Supreme Court ruled[1] that it was OK to record TV shows on home video recording devices, such as VCRs, in 1984.

There were no changes in the Constitution, and copyright law had become even more oppressive. What changed was that VCRs has become widespread by 1984 and the Supremes could sense that public opinion was strongly in favor of home recording. In fact, a couple of the Justice owned VCRs themselves. They were motivated to find an argument to make it legal.

[1] https://www.theatlantic.com/technology/archive/2012/01/the-c...


"All the way between 1776 and 2015 it was illegal..."

The legality of SSM was decided by individual states. While not 'sanctified' (up to religions ... for those who cared) or 'state-certified' (for those who cared), millions of same-sex relationships existed during those two centuries. Most of them un-persecuted.

I don't see any prohibition in my reading of the Constitution, which I'm pretty sure was designed to protect individual liberties from the powers of the State. Of course, there have always been so-called 'citizens' fond of their own liberty to deprive others of theirs.


Every state, prior to the second half of the 20th century had sodomy laws - which made being in a homosexual relationship a felony, at best, and a death sentence, at worst.

Some states still have those laws on the books.


And I would hope that a respectable court would consider sexual acts to be acts of expression between parties, which is a protected right.


Well, the courts weren't respectable, and tended to see it as an abominable perversion, and a crime against nature and public decency.

At the end of the day, you are convicted by a jury of your peers, and if your peers are God-fearing 19th century Puritans, some of whom, among other things, keep human beings as chattel slaves, you are not going to have a good time.

It wasn't some rogue politicians passing unpopular laws. The law reflected the opinions of the times.


Free speech (expression is not in the Constitution) is not predicated on consent. If sex is a protected act of expression, than so is any kind of physical assault.


There’s definitely a consent factor to exercising your free speech rights. For example, you cannot loiter on my sidewalk at 2 AM expressing your free speech rights with a megaphone, since that would constitute harassment or breach of the peace, unless the neighborhood consented to hearing it.

Assault is a crime of violence; I think you’re looking for Battery as the comparison. Lack of consent is indeed one of the elements of Battery.


This. I recently read a book that explored the history of the Supreme Court and some of its major decisions. I walked away with one thing: the Constitution can mean virtually anything to anyone. It really does come down to the social winds of that particular time.


Well, the alternative is to be an originalist, trying to determine what a bunch of dead white guys in the 16th century -meant- when they wrote it, which is big in a number of conservative circles, and amongst a number of conservative justices.

Personally, I find that an unhelpful approach because the world, and yes, society, change. But it -can- be a helpful guiding star. Those who don't learn from history, etc; well, we have this document that was very intentionally trying to protect against a variety of evils that had been directly observed. Reintepreting it to today gives us value, in that it's a warning against behaviors that are detrimental to society. What exactly is the extent of freedom of speech? The document won't tell you that, or what a good extent of it should be, but it -does- tell you that -it's important-. The countries with the most restrictive speech, the ones where the wrong words routinely get you thrown in jail, where there is little to no free press...there is no document the government is predicated on saying that freedom of speech is important. Etc.


> Well, the alternative is to be an originalist, trying to determine what a bunch of dead white guys in the 16th century -meant- when they wrote it ... I find that an unhelpful approach because the world, and yes, society, change.

That's precisely why there are ways to amend the constitution. And we have been doing so for a long time - the most recent amendment is only 25 years old. That's the originalist way to dealing with the world and society changing, and the benefit of it is that it makes the change less arbitrary, and more democratic (since it's up to state legislatures, which are elected) than judicial fiat.


> [...] trying to determine what a bunch of dead white guys in the 16th century -meant- when they wrote it

You are two centuries too early. (I agree with your post overall.)


Right, 18th. Forgot it's the number ahead, not behind.


> All the way between 1776 and 2015 it was illegal - yet somehow, magically, in 2015, banning it became unconstitutional.

That's historically incorrect. Same sex marriage wasn't illegal in nearly any of the US until the 1970s. States including California and Florida enacted bans on same-sex marriage in the 1970s. And if you're talking about 1830 or such, the US was a liberal paradise (if you were white) compared to 1985 or 2005. There was no national ban or comprehensive state-based ban on same-sex marriage or eg drug consumption. The states heavily regulating marriage is a relatively recent phenomenon. The US used to have relatively few laws governing society in general, if you go back before the 1930s. The marijuana tax act was in 1937. Until the late 1970s we also didn't aggressively put so many people into prison. ~1970-2010 was an era of incredible regressiveness for the US on many social legal issues.


https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sodomy_laws_in_the_United_Stat... seems to indicate otherwise.

A liberal paradise, except for the part where in some states, you could be put to death for being in a homosexual relationship. The other, more enlightened ones, mere considered it a felony, with a reward of a few years of hard labour for it.


Then I ask, why are we having such a tough time defending against illegal digital collection and searching by the government? Doesn't it seem like people care about their privacy from government? If public opinion isn't allowing our 4th amendment to be valued, then what are we doing wrong? How can we show the government that we do indeed want them to stop violating our privacy?

Do we have to riot in the streets? I thought that was the entire point of the American Revolution! We already fought for our rights, and yet people try telling me that we're losing them because we're not fighting anymore. Apparently it's entirely acceptable that when we become complacent, that the government can steamroll us for our ignorance?


I always found it weird how people starting thinking gay marriage should be legal, when in fact it should just be protected under the first amendment all along. It's almost like people don't understand their first amendment rights, and never thought to apply it to gay marriage.


I'm glad we figured it out in only 240 years!

But, what happens if we figure out that the rights we currently enjoy are, in fact, not protected by the constitution?

This hammer swings both ways. There's a big, nasty, vaguely-defined "unreasonable" word in "unreasonable search and seizure."

Who defines what is "unreasonable"? And what are the odds that their definition will agree with what HN thinks is "unreasonable"?

I can completely see a court, in 2021, argue with a straight face, that a ban on "unreasonable search and seizure" does not protect you against <Whatever invasion of privacy>.


Your post brings up some good points:

Precedent is important. Also, being aware of your rights and theirs precedents in history is important.

The Constitution is entirely written in a manner that grants citizens rights and restrains government power. Someday we might get so ignorant that the government decides pulling a fast one on citizens is possible, therefore they try. (See Patriot Act, NDAA,. etc.)


Eh, that's a pretty simplistic assessment. It wasn't the ability to say you were married that was under contention, as I understand it. It was whether homosexual couples should be conferred all the same privileges as heterosexual couples. Those privileges don't really fit under a "free speech" view.


> that's a pretty simplistic assessment

The bill of Rights was written simplistic for a reason, my friend. So regular folk could understand their rights without a lawyer.

This was my assessment, in steps:

1. Marriage exists because it's a religious ceremony for Christians.

2. The government got involved and gives religious marriage authorization, certification, and tax discounts. (unconstitutionally, see amendment one: government can make no law regarding religion or preventing The practice)

3. Any person can follow any religion in America (as long as it doesn't violate other human's rights.)

4. Create a new religion that allows gay marriage.

5. ???

6. Profit.

Allowing people to marry should and is protected under the first amendment. The Bill of Rights wasn't written in short, easy descriptions so that we could conflate meaning and exclude people of their rights. The truth is exactly opposite of that!


Marriage as a civil institution long predates any religious take on marriage, even for Christians.


waaat...

1. Marriage exists because it's a religious ceremony in pretty much every religion since man started talking.

2. The government got involved and provides a non-religious marriage.

3. this has nothing to do with religion

4. government marriage was defined and commonly understood to be a partnership between a man and a woman. this needed to be redefined, as any government thing does.

?? you are completely wrong 6. Profit for me. My taxes are a lot less after I got married (wife makes less), and will be even higher discounted if we have kids.

Getting married is not speech - it's a government status with limitations and rules, which needed to be updated and did. Getting married religiously is protected speech, and no one ever prevented anyone from doing that - man+man or man+dog. we had civil unions, and most had the same rights as marriage, for gay people. they didn't like that and redefined a dictionary and legal meaning of a word. who cares. let's redefine straight as inclusive of gay also just like a woman can now be born w/ a dick. I personally don't care. crazies do crazy stuff - effects me zero - I know my language and my world.

the truth, dear sir, is exactly opposite of what who wrote.


You can say whatever you like but asserting marriage rights required someone else who held power of some sort (which could be as simple as saying who could or could not visit a dying person in hospital or any of many other circumstances) to agree with you.


I consider stop-and-frisk to be in direct volition with the fourth amendment. Boarder control is a little different. I have the intention of extending these rights to all humans, so the boarder shouldn't change the rights of humans. Becoming aware of substance abuse (while say operating a vehicle) has potential for being "reasonable cause" for search... Though I'm not sure I'd entirely buy it.

I'm convinced that since citizens don't know their rights, that the government doesn't think we care about them, and uses that against us when we try defending them. It's the idea of... If you don't use them, you lose them.


>I'm convinced that since citizens don't know their rights, that the government doesn't think we care about them, and uses that against us when we try defending them. It's the idea of... If you don't use them, you lose them.

Alternatively, some people are willing to give up some rights for a feeling of security.

Or some people are willing to curtail some rights because it hurts people they don't like a lot more than it hurts them.

Or some people imagine gutting rights they don't regularly seem to need will never come back to bite them. People aren't going to defend things they don't care about.

Or some people seem to imagine that if a certain right doesn't seem to benefit them directly that it's not worthwhile to defend.

Or some people seem to think that maintaining the status quo is a right that they need to defend, no matter how many people are harmed by the inequality in the current landscape.

I mean you're not wrong. But that's certainly not the only issue issue causing the erosion of liberty.


The US is unusual in having Boarder control, Winter Sports resorts elsewhere don't place any restrictions on what kind of equipment you are allowed to use.


Yup, the Fourth Amendment's drug exception. Credited to Rehnquist and almost literally taught as such when I was a 1L.


As someone on /r/sysadmin has correctly remarked - if you are outsourcing to India, you should assume that all data they have access to it is now also freely accessible to the Indian government.


Don't get me wrong, but I feel the /r/sysadmin folks are extremely pissed off at Indians, probably because of all the outsourcing. I find it amusing that they blame it on shitty coding by Indians whenever there is a breach or a website down incident, but keep quite on the nationality when the outage/breach has nothing to do with outsourcing.


I never thought anything else of any data that leaves my network.


And if you're using Windows 10, your personal data is harvested and sent back to Microsoft... who overwhelmingly outsources to India.


All the agencies mentioned in the article are related to anti-terrorism, Investigations and Tax department. They could get any data previously too, with warrant but now they can track you without warrant.

It doesn't means anything for normal IT work .


Things like this is why I think India has a very flawed political system, the executive is having too much power, and the Constitutional guarantees to citizens are flimsy, and courts including the Supreme Court are temperamental and inconsistent.

Civil law protections are insufficient as they are presently. Govt can put you in jail on flimsy grounds, but you can't sue for damages on wrongful imprisonment, etc. Most things are governed by criminal laws, where only remedy is punishment for the convicted, instead of having a strong tort law, where the aggrieved parties can extricate monetary damage claims.


NSA has been doing this for decades.


This is more like the FISA courts and NSLs. Not the dragnet stuff.

Though usually the lines are a bit blurry, sometimes secret warrants are issued to access already dragneted data. But those warrants are very far from real oversight.


Slightly off topic, but this order kind of defines the state of India. Whatever the issue is, there are always two sides both of which try to shape the narrative in their favour. One side arguing through twitter and some of self owned websites, what the implications could be, and other saying that the order already existed, and this is limiting the scope to only 10 agencies and doing it to curb terrorist activities, as if that makes it all ok.

The issue is that while this order is passed, there is no remedy for the citizens if their privacy is breached in any sense. The power is given to the home ministry, who at this point, think of themselves more as campaigner for next election, rather than an elected govt body, and hence it will be bad for political opponents in elections due in 2019. Since they made it concerning National Security, it is not covered under Right to Information either.

(The order and notification says that the interception and monitor could only be for certain citizens, or group of citizens, if they are deemed a threat for national security. Even Apple might be asked to break the encryption in this case.)


In less than decade both USA and EU will take lessons from these developing experiments (India, China, Russia, Australia) and will introduce the same locally. At first societies will be educated to stigmatise any resistance and ease the law change. Hiding data from govt will be like tax evasion or act of terrorism.


Don't put India in the same basket as China

We have fundamental enforceable human rights, democratic government, independent judiciary, (way too much)state-independent media, functional Intellectual Property Rights(IPR) regime while China lacks all of these.

Also, India has not even begun to setup the kind of real-time mass surveillance, through millions of cameras, already in place (to be fair, US is comparable here) or the upcoming dystopian big data-driven, social network-like integrated citizen evaluation program, Social Credit System(SCS) in China.

So, its wildly inappropriate to mention India and China in the same vein here


"We have fundamental enforceable human rights, democratic government, independent judiciary, (way too much)state-independent media, functional Intellectual Property Rights(IPR) regime while China lacks all of these."

I don't agree with you here. Maybe you live in a different India. Democratic government -Yes Independent Judiciary - Nope. Look up about the recent Rafael Fiasco. Also, a judge was killed and replaced by a Yes man to protect a mafia politician. Search Justice Loya for more details

state-independent media - To some extent. But there are many ruling party pet new channels

Functional Intellectual Property Right ??? Really ?


> We have fundamental enforceable human rights,

Oh yes, you mean the one where a journalist is put under draconian NSA for criticizing the government.[0]

> democratic government

Oh right. The one where hate-mongering communal bigot is made the Chief Minister.[1]

Congratulations India!

> independent judiciary

Absolutely. I guess that' why the 4 senior-most judges of the Supreme Court of India came out and said that the democracy was at stake.[2] Isn't it?

> the upcoming dystopian big data-driven, social network-like integrated citizen evaluation program

By any chance, do you mean like the one used by 40 departments of Indian government to spy on it's citizen?[3]

> So, its wildly inappropriate to mention India and China in the same vein here

Oh it's absolutely appropriate to mention India and China in the same vein here.

[0] https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/manipur-journalist-ki...

[1] https://www.thequint.com/news/india/new-up-cm-yogi-adityanat...

[2] https://www.thehindubusinessline.com/news/supreme-court-cris...

[3] https://www.huffingtonpost.in/2018/09/07/the-indian-governme...


Nah. There has been pretty strong backlash against FB. GDPR is (as imperfect as it is) a thing. I don't see the West going down that road, disregarding catastrophic failure modes.


What do you call NSA surveillance? Pretty much all your life is online and NSA can get its hands on it in transit.


Government services are mostly exempted from GDPR restrictions. Google: GDPR Article 23.


Uh, Australia is the West.


educated ...reminiscent of contemporary video clip interviews with individuals saying I don't mind if the government reads my correspondence. I have nothing to hide.

But for an historic contrarian view:

Berlin 1931 (Weimar Republic): I don't mind if the government reads my letters. I've got nothing to hide.

Berlin 1936 (national socialism): You writings make you an enemy of the state!


"Nothing to hide", with the centers of power doing what they're doing, pretty much means "I'm obedient, I'm complicit, I swear allegiance.... you go on right ahead and rob that granny blind, take all the organs you want from that child... I'll be over here pretending to find the marble pattern on the wall terribly interesting".

Ironically, they are hiding that from themselves.


Exactly. And isn't it curious how many down votes the initial bland observation elicited? Strange.


It's very worrisome how things have been going on in India, more so in the last two decades. Regardless of which party is in power, mass surveillance is increasing, and ways to preserve privacy have been under attack (the government tried to force Blackberry to allow interception of all messages when BBM was a thing; now it wants the same with WhatsApp and other platforms; and then there's the whole biometric based, unchangeable and irrevocable unique ID called Aadhaar...the list is long).

Unfortunately, most politicians here don't understand (or don't care about) the impact of any of these even to protect themselves from attack or suppression by authoritarian and untrustworthy people in power. Most states also have laws that allow them to detain people without a court order or presenting them in a court of law for up to a year, and the police can also make several laws and enforce them.

It's just a matter of time that immigration officials and police will start asking people to reveal their social media passwords, go through their personal and private information, etc.

For all the positives that India as a country has, it has a lot to learn from other countries when it comes to privacy, freedom, freedom of speech, etc.

I believe big technology companies have a role to play in India and around the world to help defeat such dangerous (and often futile) moves by governments.


In India people call this "Mitron"

MITRON

1. A large group of unsuspecting people, about to be hit by something they will take a long time to recover from.

https://www.urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=MITRON


Not to ruin the joke, but I'll just clarify that "mitron" is actually Hindi for "friends" and is used by our Prime Minister a lot (especially in speeches).


As an Indian, this is scary. In the name of national security, this can go either way.


> In the name of national security

This is detrimental to national security. It's irresponsible and negligence at best. There is no such thing as bullet-proof cyber-security measures and all these data leaks in the last several years are evidence of that. The more data that is mined, the more information for intruders (foreign and domestic) to have access to. For example Russia could have penetrated America's NSA and used the data mined there to create profiles of people they could effortlessly manipulate in America's 2016 elections.


> For example Russia could have penetrated America's NSA and used the data mined there to create profiles of people they could effortlessly manipulate in America's 2016 elections.

How do you know they haven't already done exactly that?


>national security is a sham

Now the chinese would just need to infiltrate single infrastructure.

What did the Indian govt do when it was revealed that the Huawei was siphoning off data from BSNL (state run ISP)? Other countries have started to ban Huawei telecom products.


The article was vague. How does this law compare to other countries? Is it NSA or Hemisphere level data dragnets, is it Australian style "Australian law > mathematical law", or is it something different?


Atleast in developed countries individual rights are well enforced, so NSA atleast requires permission from secret court & Australian anti-encryption law at least was passed in their parliament (or equivalent).

In India govt just used a loophole to give several government aagencies to access any computer without limitations or hurdles.

I certainly believe this is intended for data analysis for elections & for abuse of people critical oof the government; especially journalists.


This is just an inter departmental circular circular blown out of proportion by click bait media coverage, the law has not changed. Legally you still need a magistrate sign off, which is not a private court like FISA is.

This isn't to say that the Indian intelligence agencies do not try and monitor outside the judicial purview ( who really noes ? Without Snowden we wouldn't know about NSA either). Even if they want, the Indian security apparatus simply does not have kind of resources (both money and tech) to implement a dragnet like NSA has, today. Of-course this may change in future as tech may become cheaper, expertise easier.

The security threat for India is also considerably different than first world countries, two neighbors(Pakistan and China)with border disputes, both nuclear armed and not friendly, Pakistan is not exactly stable and also funds/controls proxy agents who use terror tactics and has significant active support and arms from the U.S. GPS. was disabled during last "war" in late 90's so an Indian system with local coverage was developed. If there is serious thought in the intelligence community that because monitoring is not good enough then it is tough not attempt any means necessary.


Not sure how its done in other countries, but It will be like this in India:

Police to person: Give password.

Police to company: Give data.


First, it was Aadhaar and now this. Somehow Indian Govt wants to track every citizen and build their dictatorship.


> build their dictatorship.

I highly doubt any Indian government wants or even thinks they can do this.

India in all its diversity, consists of a huge number of separate factions. The Government only works due to a mutual compromise from enough factions to form a coalition. Also, the Indian judiciary and parliament hold genuine power and exercise it too.

It is nearly impossible for a single person to gain enough momentum to even start being dictatorial.

Admittedly, Modi's government has consolidated more power in one person than most of India's past governments. But, even then it only in comparison to the nearly dysfunctional mega coalitions of the INC.


> Admittedly, Modi's government has consolidated more power in one person than most of India's past governments. But, even then it only in comparison to the nearly dysfunctional mega coalitions of the INC.

I don't like what is happening but it is far better than controlling the entire government from 10 Janpath.


While dictatorship is obviously absurd, what about Indira Gandhi and the Emergency?


Indira Gandhi's shenanigans led to the the establishment of the Basic Structure Doctrine of the Indian constitution, which I hope will prevent anybody else from exploiting the same loopholes


That sounds like a good lesson was learned.


Under a dictatorship, people don't have the right to choose. People chose a specific party to represent them in 2014 and in 2018 that party lost several state elections. This is far from how a dictatorship works. Your assertion is factually incorrect.


Building something usually refers to that thing not already being completed.


This is groundwork for the future when tech will control the groupthink of people more and more. And it also enables the shutdown of key dissenting voices in the short-term and did you not read about the arrests of certain activists recently? Previously they had to gather meatspace intelligence but now they can monitor anything that flagged people do digitally and that can be used at a convenient time to shut them down. Tomorrow you could easily become that 'flagged' person too.


> build their dictatorship.

I highly doubt that this is what the motive is. But I agree that this decision is very irresponsible and can have a disastrous impact. It could surely help in detecting a pattern which may put the nation in some sort of risk, but there is a greater and inevitable chance that it can be easily misused by the granted authorities or some personnel working for those authorities.


There was no Aadhar in 1975-77.


NSA has been doing this for decades and last I heard USA is still democracy. Dictatorship in India is next to impossible.


I wonder what the implications will be for Western companies outsourcing there, anyone care to chime in?


I don't think Western companies really outsource important stuff to India. Its mostly brain dead work. Some of us call ourselves cyber coolies if we are working for the outsourcing companies. American companies are actually careful about employing Indians and other foreigners even in US. I remember one Indian colleague telling me how his US employer had to get approval from the US govt before hiring him full time in US. The employer had to show paperwork that he wouldn't have access to important information (trade secrets and the like). This employer makes things for agriculture. So I wonder have cautious the US govt would be for defense and related industries. I know they don't even allow non citizens to work in defense related projects even inside US.

So, unlike the Chinese, we (Indians) don't really get to learn much from outsourcing, other than may be lessons on keeping the end customer happy by exploiting the employees.


Oh my! Who can imagine living in an environment where the government is known to be intercepting, monitoring, and decrypting your digital activity as their perfectly acceptable MO!?


Does using an app like cloudflare 1.1.1.1 protect us from this ?

Cloudflare app link - https://blog.cloudflare.com/1-thing-you-can-do-to-make-your-...


Using cloudflare DNS over ISP is definetly better, but you definetly need VPN/ToR or both to stop govt snooping on your online activities.


no - you will have to use a VPN or ToR


This will be an unpopular opinion, but I personally like highly oppressive and intrusive governments trying to impose their will on the internet and technology.

Usually when this happens, it results in substantial innovation around privacy, security and awareness. Such movements will ultimately force many people underground and into various forms of VPN's, non standard operating systems and custom hardware.

To be clear, I am not condoning India's actions and I have no doubt many people will be hurt by this. I am merely pointing out that there will also be many unintended consequences and I personally believe that their government will ultimately lose more trust, control and visibility than they gain.


This is why I don't like laws like these.

They're utterly ineffective at their stated goals. The targets are largely unaffected.

However, the average person is affected. And can be deeply affected.


Yeah because the real purpose of these laws is to control the citizens, as ever more unrest in future is a given, for just about any country. Nothing except physically shackling every human being is going to stop crazy terrorists from ploughing through a crowd in a vehicle, but mark my words, you'll find western 'democracies' employing technology in literally every sphere of life to ostensibly control these 'terrorists' although the end result will be a dystopia of totally controlled citizenry that will find it impossible to break their chains unless they're prepared to die.


I would add that it aids criminals. Devious minds will adapt and work around such invasive laws. (excluding lazy criminals of course) The average person will not even research this. The end result will be petabytes of citizen data sitting on some government servers or amazon S3 buckets that will end up on the black market.


> Usually when this happens, it results in substantial

> innovation around privacy, security and awareness [...]

... in the HN filter bubble. Not in the general public.

Consider yourself lucky to be knowledgeable about IT. Most people are not and they have plenty of other things to think about instead of their IT-education.


It is easy to task authorities with intercept and decryption duties; actually doing it successfully is another matter entirely. Mathematics works both ways, friends.


Unfortunately force and power usually only work one way. If they can't succeed in decryption, they'll succeed in threatening and/or scaring the people into doing it for them.


>>It is easy to task authorities with intercept and decryption duties; actually doing it successfully is another matter entirely. Mathematics works both ways, friends.

Actually if Apple, Goog, FB etc are forced to surrender the key--at the penalty of being excluded from 1.x billion people in India--math works only one way...


they can't surrender keys they don't have (e2e). the only issue is that they may be forced to do a key change. one way around this would be to show a prominent notice if your peer changed keys, which would make it immediately obvious what was going on.


> Actually if Apple, Goog, FB etc are forced to surrender the key--at the penalty of being excluded from 1.x billion people in India--math works only one way...

They did that with Blackberry few years ago


The idea that showing a warning makes it immediately obvious what is going on is ridiculous.

It would take a large-scale public education campaign to teach people what it means when they see a warning message that reads "Peer key changed. Are you sure you want to proceed?"

If you need to be convinced, go ask your mom or dad whether it's immediately obvious what is going on when they see an insecure connection warning in their web browser. In my experience everyone just clicks through to "proceed anyway" without comprehending it at all.


That’s why most browsers now make this difficult to do.


If India wants and if they can do it (maybe trade agreements prohibit them...not sure,) there's no way around. You want to do business in India? Yes? OK, then should have the key and must give it to India's police. Otherwise a ban on your business in India, $billion fines and arrests warrants for entire line of execs.

Apple has great hopes for India https://www.msn.com/en-us/finance/companies/its-been-a-rout-...


They needn't decrypt, only negligible population use End to End encryption. They can do mass surveillance with the support of ISP; may be some of the ISP's objected to their surveillance requests & hence blanket permission to do so.

I think this is specifically aimed at elections, data from ISP's, set top boxes provide enough data to determine political affiliations such as whether you watch NDTV or Republic.


I am surprised they are not simply mandating a keylogging software in all laptops/phones and get it over with instead of trying to decrypt.


Every country who can afford to already does this. They're simply admitting a little more about it than most.



The Indian journalist jailed for a year for Facebook posts

https://www.bbc.com/news/world-asia-india-46631911


People getting jailed for Facebook posts happen frequently in India. Looking at the arrests they have made so far, there are 3 categories of people whom you shouldn't criticize or make fun of in Facebook: politicians, religion and women.


In 2014 Modi campaign promised honest/progressive govt.

Now,

    50% ministers in his cabinet are facing corruption/criminal charges in courts

    fulfilled just 9% poll promises http://www.electionpromisestracker.in/governments/central-government

    and utter contempt for truth and knowledge https://www.huffingtonpost.in/entry/smriti-irani-to-sharad-yadav-8-most-bizarre-statements-from-politicians-in-2018_in_5c18d2dfe4b08db990575cfc


As far as I know elections work quite well in India and Australia (which is moving in the same direction), so how do things like this happen? Do the people consider government spying on them Ok?


Majority of the people in India are too busy making ends meet to know or care. This may change as the relatively more educated/affluent younger generations replace the older ones, but for now there are other bigger problems on everyone's minds. Of course govts all over the world use precisely this strategy to push through draconian laws... if the people aren't too stressed out/distracted to care, the evergreen excuses of terrorism and national security are trotted out.

We have general elections next year and the main deciding factors will probably be stuff like demonetisation, rising prices/taxes, perceived arrogance/authoritarianism etc. This issue will go almost unnoticed except by the techically aware minority, just as the wholesale decimation of India's environment by the current govt is also going unnoticed except by the small 'green' minority.


> This issue will go almost unnoticed except by the techically aware minority, just as the wholesale decimation of India's environment by the current govt is also going unnoticed except by the small 'green' minority.

Would you care to expound to here? The last I checked this government has done more on renewable energy front than any other government.


In general "the renewable energy front" is also a kind of populism. I would strongly prefer my government to invest in nuclear power plants maintenance, upgrading and building and in research in the nuclear area than in what is generally considered renewable.


Frankly whether we agree or not, nearly all the government's are actively spying on it's citizens.. Buzzwords like Right to Privacy is just like that only a buzzword. So , if a government needs someone's data, they will somehow take it.


If you want to see where the USA will be politically in 10 years look no further than China and India with these draconian policies. We are in competition with them.


This is basically part of a smear campaign against the government in power (NDA). The law was designed under the previous government and has been in existence before this government came to power. Nothing new was introduced since 2008.

As far as constitutional protections go, Indians have a right to privacy which has been held up in the courts as recently as this year. This has been affirmed several times in the recent past. So, no, India does not have weak protections for its citizens.

Finally, India is a place where mere WhatsApp forwards on the basis of rumors or made up stories cause people to go out and riot. Communal violence can be instigated using such means. So such laws are essential to track down the perpetrators.

NSA, CIA also silently spy on Americans without much oversight in the name of security. In fact it is done at a mass scale.


Denial, justification, and appeal to “everyone else is doing it” are a lot less compelling when used in the same breath that when deployed separately.

“Uighur detention camps don’t exist and also aren’t that bad.”


Nothing in my post was even close to "Denial" or that everyone else is doing it. I was pointing out that my western counterparts are barking up the wrong tree when their own government is guilty of mass surveillance on not just their own people but everyone on this planet while India has stronger protections that have been held up in court.

People in glass houses should not be pelting stones.


Your Western counterparts also complain when Western government does this.

You have a really huge chip on those shoulders.


while i don't agree with OP about it being politically motivated around the current government. Most of what he says is true. There is no new law, there are other draconian laws like POTA, TADA, Sedition Act and AFSPA in place which give the Government already enormous power which they don't hesitate to use. The current government and many past ones do certainly abuse such powers nothing new expect it is spilling over digital domain more than ever before.


If anything, the current government has restricted the use of this law to a handful of agencies. One bureaucrat I know of -- in the Postal Department -- had been abusing this for a few years.


Privacy Law is in the draft status ...


This.


The first few lines of the story make it clear that there is not (necessarily) some physical seizing of computers going on here; it is the data that are being intercepted, monitored, and decrypted.


...and 7 years of prison if the service provider does not hand the authorities the encryption keys...

MITM for iMessage, Whatsapp etc seems to be guaranteed here.


> Whatsapp etc seems to be guaranteed here

It is end to end encrypted


Which means that authorities can force the providers to inject public keys into the directory services, thus allowing the authorities access to the cleartext. End-to-end is a buzz word. What is important is key distribution, which is set to be subverted by governments everywhere...


Don't think they will deploy great firewall for blocking telegram which operate from offshore.


I dont know why people bring up telegram. A vast majority of chat messages is sent directly in the clear to Telegram servers. Telegram can spy on your conversations. If they can, anyone can. It is NOT an encrypted messenger. It is a crappy plaintext messenger that has an encrypted feature that nobody uses. Also - Stop using telegram. IT IS NOT ENCRYPTED LIKE YOU AND YOUR FRIENDS THINK IT IS.


It does have secret chats, which are supposed to be E2E encrypted


China will glady sell the Indian government GFW technology.


It's still not secure. Read the 1st comment and the reply: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=18479567


Summary: WhatsApp aggressively pushing online chat backups, to which they do have the keys.


So, are we safe if we disable the backups?


No, whatsapp is not open source. You have to trust facebook on whatever they tell you. Nobody can say for sure that there are no backdoors inside it. If someone says that than they are lying.


Doesn't "any computer" means personal devices that citizens own and agencies can ask you to hand over keys and password?


This is much worst than what we saw in Australia, current Indian govt headed by right wing political party with track record of human rights abuses have passed this order without passing through Parliament using a loop hole in the IT ACT.

This is likely aimed at upcoming elections for data analyses via ISP & to target journalists critical of the current govt in India.

But I feel that the International community isn't going to rally up for India like they did for Australia; I doubt even if expats would.


According to the below link, this is not a new rule, but something the UPA government passed. This new order just lists out the agencies that can access the data, where as the original rule didn't list anyone specifically. I remember the "provide password or 7 years jail" was a thing for a while.

https://www.firstpost.com/india/mha-says-snooping-order-base...


Spreading FUD about India?


No,stating opinions based on factual information on the present Indian govt.


"Current Indian govt headed by right wing political party with track record of human rights abuses have passed this order without passing through Parliament using a loop hole in the IT ACT". It's your opinion without any fact. The law was introduced by UPA.https://m.hindustantimes.com/india-news/in-arun-jaitley-s-st...


Not the most useful bot. CTRL/Cmd + F “analys”


> This is much worst than what we saw in Australia, current Indian govt headed by right wing political party with track record of human rights abuses have passed this order without passing through Parliament using a loop hole in the IT ACT.

The main opposition party has far worse record of human rights abuses. So please spare us the propoganda

> This is likely aimed at upcoming elections for data analyses via ISP & to target journalists critical of the current govt in India.

Even prior to this government, journalists were being targeted by the regime. It has more to do with India's archaic laws(eg: defamation) than anything else.


All governments do it. Some just do it in the open.


TL;DR This is a a decade old directive . This was a 2009 directive, if at all anything that has changed now it is instead of open ended notification in 2009 which said any company can access the data, this directive limits the number of companies to specific 10 agencies that can access that too after getting necassary permission. Details in https://www.opindia.com/2018/12/fact-check-congress-lies-mha...


To western readers clicking on the above 'opindia' article, it is a right-wing media outlet like 'Breitbart'.

It is well known to propagate fake news in support of the ruling right wing political party.


Is FirstPost rightwing?

>The Ministry of Home Affairs on Friday clarified that its recent order authorising 10 agencies to snoop on any computer in the country in the interest of national security is based on the UPA-era IT Act and the IT Rules 2009 that allow for surveillance by a competent authority and said all cases of surveillance will be placed before a review committee headed by the cabinet secretary.

https://www.firstpost.com/india/mha-says-snooping-order-base...

I know for sure that "give password or spend 7 years in jail" is not a new rule. It was there for at least a while.

>Section 69 of the Information Technology Act, as amended by the Information Technology (Amendment) Act, 2008, empowers the central and state governments to compel assistance from any "subscriber or intermediary or any person in charge of the computer resource" in decrypting information. Failure to comply is punishable by up to seven years imprisonment and/or a fine.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Key_disclosure_law#India

>A major amendment was made in 2008. It introduced the Section 66A which penalized sending of "offensive messages". It also introduced the Section 69, which gave authorities the power of "interception or monitoring or decryption of any information through any computer resource". It also introduced for child porn, cyber terrorism and voyeurism. It was passed on 22 December 2008 without any debate in Lok Sabha. The next day it was passed by the Rajya Sabha. It was signed by the then President (Pratibha Patil) on 5 February 2009.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Information_Technology_Act,_20...

UPA ruled India in 2008.


It just said monitoring and collection - there is no mention of tampering private owned properties and complete invasion into privacy.


Room 641A


Modi.


BJP


Mitron


Even if I take the headline with grain of salt and assuming it's meant to capture reader's interest, it is rather surprising the Nation involved is not your run-of-the-mill authoritarian/repressive nation but one that bills itself as the 'World's largest democracy'.




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