THE DATABASE NATION, a.k.a India's State Surveillance

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THE DATABASE NATION, a.k.a India's State Surveillance
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23rd of December 2008 was a sad day in India for civil liberties. On this day, The Indian Parliament passed the "The Information Technology (Amendment) Act" with no debate in the House, which effectively means is that the government of India now has the power to monitor all digital communications in the country without a court order or a warrant. The "world's largest democracy" strongly leaning towards becoming a surveillance state raises many questions and poses severe challenges for free speech and economic justice in India and globally. This talk will map and review the current political, socio-cultural and legal landscape of mass-surveillance, data protection and censorship in India and analyse how it ties in to the global landscape of surveillance and censorship. It will also aim to create a discussion space to investigate the deeper effects of these so called "welfare" projects and how citizen-led movements can drive the state towards stronger data protection and privacy laws.
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hi thank you very much for being here today my name is Maria and this is constant we both work with Haskell tech Chamberlain and and the residual be talking about today is based on dependent researchers we haven't actually done Tactical Tech but it kind of has to do with our mutual surveillance fictitious without way solar and essentially will be talking about
surveillance in the largest democracy in the world and all over India is a fascinating country in many ways unfortunately there is widespread surveillance in the country and cast of GP-Sarsa about events in the largest democracy in the world it's a shame I can't see anybody and laughter like you do with a with a yeah so we talk about the a few things that have been happening
in India over the last few years of 2008 especially with the way you start to here for us in India 2 things happened 1 of them was something that makes us very sad even today I'm there were these large terrorist attacks in the city of Bombay by a bunch of gunmen um came in to various parts of the city and shots people in cold blood in public places we've had several other humans like that money is going to talk about it in a 2nd but 1 of the things that happened after the statistic that that was the Indian government very quickly amended the IT Act which now enables the Indian government to a correct and build these large databases of personal information which enable centralized identification surveillance and so on and historically known that building large databases of personal information of citizens is a terrible idea the of
the terrible things happen when this information can be misused by government these people who can unlawful unlawfully gain access to this information we also historically seen large databases of people and lies in billion people being
used to external exterminate communities so why is it that a country which is the largest democracy India when it comes to the number of people who live there 1 . 2 billion as of the last census adopting such a totalitarian constant we try and ask some of these questions and then and report on what we know so far for the course of the next 15 or 20 minutes is a lot to talk about we don't have a lot of time but we'll try our best right so there was the main reason for and
apply widespread surveillance all over the world over the last year would have rows so much about surveillance and forms so disease and so on why governments argue that they apply mass surveillance well usually has to fight crime and terrorism that's usually the case right only is that's the idea from the government's while actually in India I mean unlike most countries which don't really have a high terrorist
um attack of rest in India terrorism actually is a major issue in the sense that at least at 800 of terror cells apparently of operational in India I'm all over the last 25 27 years since 1987 there have been 13 major terrorist attacks and actually that Monbiot 2008 terrorist attacks are probably the landmark the type the kind of like the 911 of India so actually ended does have a major issue with terrorism it is a huge problem there so the Government of India does argue that's the main reason why the this widespread surveillance in the country is to tackle crime and maybe terrorism was saw with regards to that
and so it showed governments all over the world including in in government are applying mass surveillance schemes and then what we can see basically is that a large proportion of population all around the world including the vision India accepting this and why is that well if you go around asking people and how they feel about surveillance and if they're OK with that I think most people would say
most people I mean all over the world and including Indians will probably I do OK I am not a terrorist I have nothing to hide so what if they and another others so that where work with so if I'm under surveillance of the rotamer communications sorry I just like to ask a question the audience and is M. please be a try and be honest and is there anyone here who
feels at the not special or important enough to be under surveillance if so please raise your hand but no 1 1 person right 2 or 1 the frequency of served to rebuilding that they're are
not special import enough to be under surveillance interesting as at interesting active the majority don't think that which is quite a good which kind of thing and in the sense that the way I disabilities I think that this argument is very frustrating mainstream arguments as a type of psychological coping mechanism when dealing with security and then of the day as already at as defined as determined if were important all special is really up to data analysts is really up to data mining software which atonement how important or non-important data really is the 1 that and with regards to that's the 2nd about privacy is that in
this single there's a general consensus so I will give the in India but worldwide that that said if privacy is not very important societal value in the Indian
context a lot of Indians also argue this saying privacy the way and gone context upon concept and you don't really care about privacy the way especially when it comes to digital freedoms the way the West thoughts about it In fact Simon Davies said this recently is that India he
defined something called Indian trained syndrome and it's very very very common for me to be on the train or in a public place um in an Indian city or town where I am last very very personal questions a lot of people are and In most cases you are very happy to share that information with other people it could be something from a ranging from I you matter how many kids do you have how much money do you work and and these are not considered very offensive questions on but I argue that OK maybe privacy is confident differently in society in India but it is not dead a specimen considers of
freedoms but there is an amazing department in the and is it in the presidency of the but uh technology and any who we will put out and really amazing privacy when support of last year and 1 of the things that they say a lot of people by 2nd and phones in indelible sell their phones it turns out over 70 per cent off Indians were selling their forms care enough to
delete all the personal data from the 4 this is 1 of the city's states of from which various ways people engage with technology and and what they think about privacy in India it's a great report I don't you recommend anyone who wants to understand the issues of surveillance and privacy in India to read it on
our thrown out the kid like agarikon brought before right so there's some data from will social and essential what they're showing is 100 people in india live in rural communities in urban communities how people of access to the internet and how many have mobile phones as you can see from this data an action only
17 % which is quite a small percentage of Indians have access to the internet which is why I and many people in the West and in India argue that surveillance in India's rather an elitist issue doesn't really concerned image of a population but actually if we think about 70 % of a population which consist of more than a billion people 17 % is
actually more than 200 million people to such a lot with infinite go a lot people who can potentially be affected by surveillance but not totally enough as you can see up roughly 73 per cent of the population have mobile phones and it's not forget that nowadays most people do access the internet and through that the mobile forms and most of it is in India is carried out through the surveillance of mobile networks so this is I think somewhat interesting and important information to bear in mind I saw in all Suzanne surveillance in India and some Republican allows the world we pollen have to look at the real legal regime so in India there are several laws which regulate surveillance like the Indian and Telegraph Telegraph Act and a post office acts abandoned by last letter the act and so on but as at 3 lateral attention to the Information Technology Act and that's because it is also in sections which are deemed to be somewhat controversial particularly sections a 6 N
and there's been a huge debate in India with regards to section because um is considered to be potentially infringe upon the right to freedom of expression in the country in particular the section states that so that any of offense that individual who post all somehow engages in an rights an offensive message online will be punished that itself as I think rather concerning will really concerning because it
doesn't really an it is a redefined when offensive message as solid during known India if what you're writing on campus % should be perceived to be offensive by the government or any other agents of the new data and that it could potentially lead to abuse so in the face of it the reason this section of the law exists is the good supposed to protect innocent citizens from harassment online no that's probably a good thing that there
is something that 1 can go to and say some but I am being harassed but we've seen a lot of recent cases where yeah the 66 has been misused by political outfits and leaders and the 1 specific case which is which almost the it's extremely surprising there's the sun gentleman in the uh in the city of Chennai in a in South India who tweeted 2 is 16 followers 1 6 saying that there the some of the current finance minister of the country has amassed more droughts than a certain other politicians good would find the next day the culture and his door it and he was arrested and detained for questioning because this vesicle edition reported harassment when that tweet was posted that's is 1 of the things and there's been some more serious and the incidents recently right so I should have been many cases of the last years where this and
section of the loss is 6 and has been used to arrest and prosecute people I 1 recent example actually is this case in Mumbai uh which occurred last met in November 2012 where essentially following the death of a politician of factory and Mumbai was shut down and a woman as the woman which in particular as she posted on Facebook um and colleges basically
criticizing Mr. dynamin by following the death of a politician and then the woman next to her and basically like the post and because they kind of dared to post something like that and and like it's their arrested so this is just
1 example of several which shows how this this law how the section of the law can potentially be used and to to arrest and prosecute individuals when you read this is just you know when a freshman right and the right to freedom of expression or another section of the
sound symbol of Mr. knowledge-acquisition 69 which has received a lot of prison in India the main reason for that is because section 69 allows for the interception of all information transmitted from the computer resources so allows for the monitoring interception and decryption of information 9 particular section 6 9 8 and allows full out so
information online to be blocks which action is has led to the blocking of many websites and low and very high levels of censorship in India which is all technically illegal under the section then section 69 have been and allows not only for the
deception of monitoring and if information but for substituted purposes but in general and with regards to have with regards to decryption as you what the same as that of the law says is that an users are required to disclose encryption keys in particular if you for example using PGP which I hope you are and if you doing so in India and the authorities for whatever reason think that joy activity somewhat suspicious of their legally allowed to ask disclose your your private encryption key which means they have to give up your pass race which is which is really concerning basically and the concerning part there's a you if you
don't do that you can essentially be sent to
prison for up to 7 years and you might be liable for a fine sort with regards to those am 1000 India I was training certain activists and to use there's a forms of encryption and what many activists said was OK I'd love to learn to use PGP I'd love to have my e-mails I need to do that but what if I forgive my phrase level you might have a key way if I lose it or whatever and then what 1 the reasons the government asked me for us and then I just arguments them not because I don't want to you know cooperate because I didn't habits so a lot of Indians alone activists argue that all I'm afraid to use encryption because I'm I actually to be prosecuted basins slow which is quite side I think because that kind of and attitudes barrier thing in the country from and mobilizing people to use encryption which is very essential we do especially with regards to all the surveys were talk about today of another thing I wanna
talk about a lot of lot of Internet is axis in public places in India especially cyber cafes Dr. um exist in large numbers in many Indian cities and towns and the recent ruling in
2011 and called the ID rules of 2011 also great popularly known as the cyber cafe rules of 2011 now requires every cyber cafe operator on owner to install surveillance occur at the ban on the is and not only do they have to check you're right in Figure document when you walk in and make a note in a paper register about who you I and they also take a picture ofyou at before they let you anywhere near an Internet terminal and this is basically is a really good 30 to 40 per cent of people who access income
Internet on computers in India with a lot of these people are using so they met in public places and it is not just a wandering the communications but had to leave their physical body as you walking in and out of a space it right so and that was
just a brief on and information object is which is probably the lawn in their everyday surveillance is worth mentioning the mouse but then again there's also the license agreements so most surveillance is carried out because I skis and his these 1 it's an intercept the networks but in many cases is already their choice in many cases
or actually most cases not only India but all over the world but especially in India but they're required to do so because they have to comply with the license agreements and if the demands of the networks if they don't install the hard and soft you sort of just operates so in India the various license agreements which um basically require he's you provide a semantic communications and in particular for example there's the eyes the license agreement which among other things prohibits bulk encryption and prohibits
encryption which exceeds 40 bits which is really a lawyer and mother concerning and then there are other allies agreements like the new UAS license agreement which essentially requires and it I student use these 2 and enabled installation of mass surveillance systems like the central monitoring system which offered to later on 1 would think
that they recently did is create a system called that grade of sort for the national grid so yes sorry for me but I am pretty terrible at every instance but with enacted aims to do is a a lot of work done and agencies have
maintained their separate databases or personal information of citizens over the last several years that aims to link these into 1 combined databases and then give access to this leads database to 11 different security agencies intelligence agencies in the country from at the recent development that is really really scary because in india we have and enjoyed the idea of off having they don't really distributed as far as
the government is concerned for a very long time now but that's where a quickly changing within that grid being implemented so what I'm not good I
will set of the dedication schemes in India like the crime in criminology uh kind I'm McGrew tracking networks assistance is a tennis which essentially why does is that it links the databases of 14 thousand police departments all across the 35 states the unit into its territories of India so on the 1 hand 1 could argue that hey this is a great system because it enables police to do their work better by note the 2 and detect criminal potential criminals and so on I'm sure it might effective but why thing
is really concerned about this is the idea of centralizing data and having just a few government agencies have a monopoly of access to such data and which is it get a more concerned with the rest things it'll get so and I think that a lot of data collection schemes we also have various surveillance teams in India another lawful intercept a monitoring systems have been based on the operating in India since 2009 following the the big Mumbai 2008 terror attacks however the problem is that most things in India of widely carried out in secret which means that we pretty much only
find out about these schemes recently in particular now a few months ago 2015 now these lawful and is it Amontons systems and the basically be up the rest of the useful body of mobile communications and for intercommunications in particular mobile operators in India and have already deployed there are lawful innocent Amontons systems and at the premises and
they're basically intercepting all indications running through the networks and know what the Government of India has done is that they have deployed uh there there are in low voices Vermonters system at the at the international gateway of ice piece not having done that essentially means but they're able to have access indiscriminate access to all Internet traffic in the country it means that they would have a type of always link which gives access to all of us I have access all the states they try to detect specific as suspicious keywords and key-phrases although it we don't have the link where have we don't know which key was a cue phrases they
look out for which is a kind of scary the least but anyhow thing was really concerning the by doing so they bypass an ice these again axis such data in most cases they probably do so without ice these knowledge or consent or whatever and it's very likely that all
this mass surveillance of Internet communications in India is being carried out without cause oversights which brings a lot of questions with regards to legality and whether this has been used to abuse state and so on
so you have Mario's dollywood keywords that are found suspicious and used by certain surveillance schemes to target people this is a new system called major that
active you know very little about except that inclusions Bureau of the country has been piloting this since earlier this year January February and
May tries as we know a hardware solution that's blogging straight into eyes these in India which does real-time analysis off all traffic of voice and text and tries to basically targets certain individuals based on the key phrases and keywords that they're using I'm not going to mention what's the key words the faces of about of some examples of what we've found in some document that we've been able to lay out and on so the answer to overwhelm you but there are more
surveillance India common ones array mentioned so a relatively new wanted to actually not new it was applied again following the Mumbai terror attacks as most Alinsky's run the world right and this started off in 2009 but has mostly been operational over the last months and and we are you recently found out about certain particular literally a year ago the social monitoring system and like the name says i is a monitoring system which is
DP decentralized and which aims at intercepting all communications in India and a lot of activist in India hybrid processes against this this this stop and CMS some activist for example which basically argue that this essential Montez system and potentially infringes upon the right to privacy freedom of expression and so on and so what we know about the CMS and various things we know about it so far is that the 1 they have and the government has
already invested at least 72 million in the provision of the system which is kind interesting I think given that and you know that they obviously have a lot of that partition before tourism is a big problem in India so on the 1 hand you could argue that hey this is a reasonable investment to tackle crime and terrorism but on the other hand is like while India has a lot of great issues and like poverty and so on why there's so much money when it could be in this elsewhere and how effective has actually been I guess
we'll over the next years when we so what is the same as in how does it work so essentially kitty providers in India and have already had a for deception systems is all the premises
of the last years now the difference is that these lawful decision systems are not being integrated with intercept store-and-forward service I steps so that's what these servers do that that the basically ultimately transmit all the data from 2 years these networks to regional monitoring sensors so there there's regional monitoring centers all over
India and all into that of data from T is the networks ultimately transmit that then these regional mountain sensors are all linked to the central mount mountain system which has a massive centralized database what this means basically is that unlike in most countries are like the past where
law-enforcement would have a warrant or something and go nodal officer and request them to and the node off so that is they were present in that particular information now this is not the case now that law-enforcement agencies in India are able to bypass the is these and they're able to have direct access to all the status of this data through the central monitoring system and and again it's very unclear is any cold oversights with this to my knowledge this our system lacks all legal banking sure it is specialized uh it isn't mentioned in the license agreement but it still and lexical biking it's completely unregulated and it's really
unclear who will be able to the checks and balances that this is Adams used so it turns out we have just 2 more minutes and we wanted to talk about a few more things but the that's the scale of what kind of monitoring is happening in india how many people are affected by this CMS to the CMS so he had this is a quote I completely agree with of all this so I like to argue with large systems using what's now said it's basically never of work I did on many
of the incidents where this can a master releases actually prevented of any terrorist attacks like the love and plays it would but this is a way quickly tell you about a welfare system that the Indian government's been implementing over the last few years and then we'll hopefully try and wrap up in the next minute right of resource over quickly and if I speak too fast please raise your hand because tend to speak with you and so the UID I'm along the schemes we have their collections listings will also have a biometric data collection scheme UID is the world's largest management elections scheme what it does is that collects by metrics and um by medicine demographic data by measures as an iris and fingerprint in the prince now this basically serves as a
unique identifier for all other surveillance schemes in the sense that you collect all that about people and the able to verify that is that actually lost a person based on the by matrix or supposedly that's a huge issue because in many cases is not infallible and this is run by the authority has a mass of centralized database as you can see in real love
the idea of centralizing the surveillance centralizing the data collection which in my opinion is not not the best idea in the world will action is a bad idea because enjoys data essentially means that kind of serves as a kind of honeypot digital cyber attacks the security wise this is in the
effective and and generally speaking the UID is considered to be a voluntary although or in theory in practice I think it's rather mandatory because for example and alert people can't get access to cash for programs and other social and other government
benefits and this registered with the UID and also in Maharashtra which is a states in the west of India women bias up until recently people might get married unless they have their roots of the UID Ellis they had a daughter cards which basically means that although in theory voluntary it's actually pretty mandatory
other than that the whole idea of centralized systems that the UID is trying to implement a collect personal data there's some other worries about the privatization of the implementation
of the Indian government has been large corporation to implement most of these systems and 1 example I can give you is it an eagle L 1 they work with who claims on all the public documents not based service the US defense and national and national security forces what waiting for me as an Indian citizen
here is why is the endowment consistently demonstrated these links where corporations which appeared relate out we will go through these relationships with foreign intelligence agencies and how the way expect my grandma to protect my data is uh if I don't know whose hands it is then eventually right so the bad news that in India there are lots of data collection schemes of by metric schema lots of surveillance schemes unfortunately most of these schemes are being carried out wide widely in secret and unfortunately most of them lack legal banking and they lack
of public and parliamentary debate prior to the implementation of the good news is that there's actually been a lot of effort in India to um trade by privacy laws which will regulate the dates and regulate surveillance for example the Department of Personnel and Training in India has recently and come up with this draft principle which is very much in compliance with but the privacy principles which are included in the report by the group of experts on privacy and however I do hope that that they would be further reviewed this bold and that's and that is basically more in compliance with privacy principles and then we can see 11 service well from the civil society sector for example the Center for instance the sizing bundle that over the are bold so you see a lot of initiative from both the government and so sector to create a possible the country which regulates all these issues we mentioned that the
people's privacy we have the customer that and that's it's great that there is so much effort from civil society at an activist outfits and policy level a book advocates but to try and regulate how data
protection and privacy laws that can predict individual freedoms and corporate freedom in the country but there are things we can do today to try and protect ourselves on 1 of the things I just wanna talk about is uh the use of good open-source encryption which is not as difficult as it usually sound it is very in the orifice there really capable in my opinion of using open source software that helps us and krypton they've got our communications and data I would
very quickly one-dimensional to you that I've been involved with for a little while for security in a box which is the to get published by the organization that will marry and I work with that with that knowledge a collective what this does is it helps term at the reverse yeah Liz or anybody else understand the money's there that not visual privacy reasons and also um driving made so this technology more accessible to were booklets and guides that we publish we are in the public eye in
large numbers and we've been running digital security community for the last couple of days are indispensable reclaimed than that if you have any questions about what tools and that it's you can use to protect yourself from surveillance and to conduct was filter running some specific sessions around this issues at the at the clinic if you have any other questions I think we're we don't have any time for questions but Mariane and I will hand out just outside the space if you want gun hello and the top was more about anything useful about its important about it we have such a a short slot and we had rushed through this but there is a lot more information we would like to talk about and and will please find like on and have more dad's this evening thank you
who it not