India Joins The Super-Snooper's Club (No Legality Required)

from the anything-you-can-do dept

One of the many benefits of Edward Snowden's leaks about NSA spying is that it is flushing out similar activity around the world. Tim Cushing wrote recently about Sweden's illegal snooping, and now The Hindu reveals that India is doing something very similar:

the Internet activities of India's roughly 160 million users are already being subjected to wide-ranging surveillance and monitoring, much of which is in violation of the government’s own rules and notifications for ensuring "privacy of communications".
Here are some details:
unlike mobile call interception safeguards, where only a pre-specified, duly authorized mobile number is put under "targeted surveillance", to prohibit misuse, in the case of Internet traffic, the government’s monitoring system, which is installed between the ISPs Internet Edge Router (PE) and the core network, has an "always live" link to the entire traffic. The LIM [Lawful Intercept and Monitoring] system, in effect, has access to 100% of all Internet activity, with broad surveillance capability, based not just on IP or email addresses, URLs, fttps, https, telenet, or webmail, but even through a broad and blind search across all traffic in the Internet pipe using "key words" and "key phrases".
As that makes clear, the safeguards that exist for mobile interception are absent when it comes to the Internet, where pretty much anything goes. Moreover, like the UK's Tempora system, the Indian government is spying on all kinds of Internet traffic, all the time, and is able to carry out arbitrary keyword searches on it.

It's been a few months since Snowden made his first disturbing revelations, so we ought, perhaps, to be inured by now to news about the trampling of people's privacy online. But it's nonetheless depressing to come across yet another example of government contempt for the rights of its citizens.

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Reader Comments (rss)

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  •  
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    Anonymous Coward, Sep 11th, 2013 @ 3:05am

    I guess the takeaway from all this is, Governments around the world are terrified of citizens using the internet to access information and communicate with one another.

    For some reason that brings a smile to my face. :)

     

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    Ninja (profile), Sep 11th, 2013 @ 3:13am

    But it's nonetheless depressing to come across yet another example of government contempt for the rights of its citizens.

    I'm wondering, it seems clear that we are moving away from freedom of speech and privacy in a quite fast pace. Is there any Government that is not engaged in such practices to some degree?

     

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      Anonymous Coward, Sep 11th, 2013 @ 4:02am

      Re:

      All european nations have something similar to Sweden, Netherlands, UK etc. The cooperation between the secret services is very extensive, which is forcing every country to stay on top of anti-terror spying!
      The extend of the more sophisticated cooperation with private companies, subvertion of encryption software, economic espionage, development of computer disrupting technology etc. will however vary with budget and country. In these areas it is every man for himself.

      A significant part of the secret services can be seen as international organisations with some very vague goals of stopping terrorism. That all of them lack severely in political oversight and a minimum of transparency is an international problem and not a single nations problem as long as they have common interests.
      Most of the secrecy in this area of the secret services is a blast from the past and today some of it is kept secret only because it may be less positive for the secret service image. On the other hand, the secrecy makes it extremely hard to clean up the waste of money in most of them.

       

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    Anonymous Coward, Sep 11th, 2013 @ 3:13am

    As an Indian resident, I'm not much concerned about the surveillance activities of the government. They are nowhere near the scale of NSA. Unlike US, smart IT professionals don't work for the govt (the private sector pays many times more). They don't have access to fiber taps, nor any backdoors in encryption standards. The internet snooping can be easily defeated by a simple VPN subscription, one I have for many years. Most importantly, we don't have an ongoing War on Terror and War on Drugs, and the law enforcement is mostly busy with solving crimes and doing political favors. Unless it becomes a publicized case, noone ever gets railroaded in courts, infact almost everyone walks away with very light sentences, which creates other problems though. Things are messy here, but they are sane too.

     

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      Ninja (profile), Sep 11th, 2013 @ 6:00am

      Re:

      I guess that you are more towards freedom than towards the security side in the scale (then again I may be wrong) but more importantly it seems that Indians are not ruled by fear of everyone and everything which actually helps putting some check to what the Government does. The "terrorism" punchline is not super effective as it has been in the US/UK/the likes in simply ignoring any law, civil liberties and freedom of speech. Sure India has its problems but one has to wonder how bad they are in the light of the apparent self-destruction path the west is threading.

      The bright side is that the leaks seem to have weakened the power of the "terrorism" punchline in these countries. But I wonder if it's too little too late.

       

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        Anonymous Coward, Sep 11th, 2013 @ 8:19am

        Re: Re:

        Actually, bad economic decisions, govt. corruption and hostile neighbors would also probably lead us towards destruction, but till then people have a surprising amount of freedom here. Infact, things are messy because individuals have too much freedom. Personally I won't have it any other way :)

         

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          Ninja (profile), Sep 11th, 2013 @ 10:00am

          Re: Re: Re:

          Actually, bad economic decisions, govt. corruption and hostile neighbors would also probably lead us towards destruction

          Bad economic decisions can be reversed once they are found to be bad. Corruption would prevent such reversal and add other bad decisions to the mix. Hostile neighbors? Really? Not with the military power and the territorial extension the US has but you sure are creating a lot of anger towards yourself with all this espionage and the egocentric diplomacy. I'm using "you" and "yourself" mainly referring to the Government btw. No, the downfall comes from inside.

          Infact, things are messy because individuals have too much freedom. Personally I won't have it any other way :)

          I struggled to understand that you won't take less freedom even if it means things getting messy. But you see I disagree that there is too much freedom. There's a lot of perceived freedom. And if there was freedom in fact we would see the dozens of attempts of bringing back balance to this whole madness actually succeeding and moving ahead. Not arbitrary prisons, investigation and intimidation.

           

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    Corwin (profile), Sep 11th, 2013 @ 3:39am

    What legality?

    They can, thus they do.

    Like hackers do. Not asking permission, and GETTING SHIT DONE.

     

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    Dark Helmet (profile), Sep 11th, 2013 @ 3:40am

    ok

    Show of hands: who else read the title as Indiana Jones?

     

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    Nathan F (profile), Sep 11th, 2013 @ 5:07am

    It is starting to sound more and more like the various governments are acting like the Internet is the Wild Wild West, snoop/intercept first ask questions never.

     

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