NSA Snooping And India's Sovereignty
By Ravi Nitesh
23 September, 2013
Whenever it comes to ministries to take a stand on crucial issues of public interest the ministries ignore India's sovereignty and support foreign interests. So this time, Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) behaved the same way and justified US National Securtiy Agency's (NSA) snooping over Indian citizens.
With the recent access by some media groups of documents provided by Mr. Snowden (a whistleblower who revealed data mining story of NSA under PRISM project), it is clear that India is among the top countries from which NSA is collecting telephone records and internet data in bulk quantity. One can have idea with the facts that in merely 30 days, billions of data pieces were picked up by NSA from Indian citizens. Amazingly, in the overall list provided by Snowden, India is the 5th largest target (with approx 6.3 billion bits) preceded by Egypt (7.6 billion bits) Jordan (12.7 billion bits) Pakistan (13.5 billion bits) and Iran (more than 14 billion bits).
In response to this, Minister of external affairs Mr. Salmaan Khurshid remarked, "it is not actually snooping”. The NSA documents obtained by The Hindu reveals that Boundless Informant not only keeps track of emails and calls collected by the NSA, it is also used by the agency to give its managers summaries of the intelligence it gathers worldwide, thus making it the foundation of the global surveillance programs created by the world’s biggest and most secretive intelligence agency.
But by saying this, it is clear that the minister has no problem and has no concern about the theft of data of Indian citizens by a foreign intelligence without consent of the citizens and without any 'defined' motive.
This 'theft' by NSA is unethical, unconstitutional and illegal. It is because data mining in quantity like millions and billions of data pieces and categorizing these can be (mis)used in lot of ways. From the security concern to economical hegemony, from the planning of diplomatic talks to war strategies, from the trade of arms to bounding pressure over domestic and external affairs, from affecting the corporate groups and their policies to disrupting press freedom, anything can happen. And the most compromised is the Right to Privacy that a citizen must have. From the data that is collected and called 'Metadata' , NSA is able to see a person's mail records, telephone calls, even websites that he/she visited.
The question here is what is with MEA? is it serving people or foreign agencies? India, which is dominated by rural, semi urban population of low and medium economic status families, with low literacy and education ratio, with lot of basic problems of food, water, land etc on one side and on the other is moving along with globalization, infrastructure development, IT revolution that has made a proportion of its citizens (specially youths) equipped with mobile phones, email and facebook accounts, this is a threat for all its citizens. With the geographical and strategic importance in terms of security features, international diplomacy and with the preferable market with its high population, India becomes a 'hot spot' for all external agencies. At the same times, role of Indian citizens are limited in such important issues because of their own domestic problems and therefore 'unawareness' of unavailability of privacy and its consequences. However MEA has to attend it very seriously and to take step against any such activity. Protecting the citizen's privacy is obviously protecting the nation and its interests.
Ravi Nitesh is a Petroleum Engineer, Founder- Mission Bhartiyam, Core Member- Save Sharmila Solidarity Campaign
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