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Beware! Your online activity might also have been snooped by NSA

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Beware! Your online activity might also have been snooped by NSA

       In May 2013 Edward Snowden leaked to The Guardian the Internet Surveillance Programs of USA Intelligence Agency NSA – PRISM, XKeyscore and Tempora. Since the first document leak, many revelations followed. Latest being the report which claims India is among the top targets of NSA spying and that Indian citizens were also snooped by NSA. In this article Team WI explains what this snooping means to us-The Indian Netizens, and about our Indian government stance.

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According to top-secret documents provided to The Hindu by whistle-blower Snowden,the American agency carried out two programs in India:

  1. Boundless Informant- a data-mining system which keeps track of how many calls and emails are collected
  2. PRISM- a program which intercepts and collects actual content from the networks

        PRISM collected information from Google, Microsoft, Facebook, Yahoo, Apple, YouTube and several other web-based services apart from the telephone call monitoring. It has been said space,politics and nuclear program based snooping was it’s top priority.Apart from snooping in India, NSA also planted bugs in Indian embassy in USA and it’s UN mission for collecting data.What is most surprising is the amount of data it collected, (hold your breath..) a whooping 6.2 billion pieces of metadata and that too within 30 days.
The reader might think “Why would they trace my activity?” or like “Even if they spy on me, what loss would I incur?” But that is not the case, because a detailed account of an individual’s private and professional life can be constructed from metadata which may even include ‘who you hang out?’ and ‘what drives your life?’ type deep personal details.
One may think what’s that the USA will gain with this ocean of data. One must look at the bigger picture to understand this.Leaving alone important person’s (e.g. a Scientist) data, the agency will first summarize the whole metadata and prepare a report. In US-India bilateral talks involving many sectors as trade,diplomacy,business even before Indian officers go to the table,Americans would know what we are going to put on it and so they will have huge advantage over us in all negotiations.Also the Indian taste,attitude,preference data will be made known to American companies like KFC,Ford,Microsoft,Whirlpool so that they can model their product in-detail suiting Indian aspirations.This summarized and detailed end-report like data won’t be available even for Indian companies.
Apart from these implications,this is a serious case of privacy infringement and violates Article 21 of our Fundamental Right to Privacy.Snooping and spying of an Indian’s activity is illegal and even can’t be done by our own Indian Security forces without court warrant.But Indian laws can’t be applied to a foreign agency like NSA,while American law FAA,2012 allows NSA to snoop Non-Americans!
            Actually there isn’t much citizens can act regarding this,and it’s only the Indian government capable of condemning NSA and protect its strategic policy and citizens privacy from snooping in future.Till now both Indian and US governments haven’t released official statement after this particular spying.In Previous week, Brazilian president Dilma Rousseff called off her US trip following reports of NSA snooping her office.But Foreign bilateral relation is full of complications and has to take into account several aspects before deciding,and so our government is unable to stage an out-right protest regarding this issue.
However Indian government and External Affairs Ministry has to attend this very seriously and should take step against any such activity.Protecting the citizen’s privacy is obviously protecting the nation and its interests.Lets hope our PM will take such a stance>> M Renga Nathan
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