There seems to be no ending to the US National Security Agency’s love for snooping on India. According to fresh reports on NSA’s snooping activities against India, roughly 6.2 billion bits of metadata has been accessed from India by the NSA through its Boundless Informant program. This means that around a few million call data records (CDRs) has been accessed by the US.
According to US all these CDRs that have been accessed are related to the long distance calls that have been made from India and hence they fall under their jurisdiction, similar to the jurisdiction that Indian authorities have over such numbers and CDRs stored.
However, there is one scenario that could raise a possibility of not only India’s network security but also the national security. What if the 6.2 billion bits of metadata tracked has domestic telephone traffic between Indian cities. These domestic call records could relate to top secret calls between politicians, bureaucrats and armed forces officials who might not be on government dedicated networks and hence could raise a matter of concern.
Well not right now since the government thinks that there is nothing to worry about such a practice as of now. Indian Telecom & IT Minister Kapil Sibal has assured that the US government had informed India that the monitoring only involved looking at trends for indications of aberrations.
“This is not surveillance. However, if we find that content and data has or is being accessed by any other nation, we will oppose it tooth and nail. We are not in the least ambivalent about that,” added Kapil Sibal.
He also added that India will not accept any kind of surveillance as it has been reported about the US agencies snooping into e-mail and other type of communications of foreign citizens. However he also informed that to his knowledge there has been no data breach from the NSA.
“Never take a position either in diplomacy or domestically unless you are completely in control of it. Unless we know that what is accessed by some other agency outside India is data and content then only can we react. Our own agencies have not been able to figure out whether any content or data was accessed,” added the minister.
It comes to me as no surprise since India has been soft on the snooping issues carried out by NSA considering its bilateral relationships with the US. Post Guardian’s revelations about Prism, the surveillance program built by the US government had found support from its allies on the basis of national interest and being a saviour from serious terrorist attacks.
Initially when it was revealed that NSA’s Prism program has been tapping into the servers of companies such as Google, Facebook, Apple, Yahoo, Microsoft, for collecting information including search history, the content of emails, file transfers and live chats related to Indians, the government had promised to take the matter with US.
But later, Indian Government ruled out the snooping activity, defended the PRISM under national interests and said US was finding a pattern of telephone calls and emails. A similar thought that was shared during that time by the US President Barack Obama, who had argued that the programs have protected Americans with only “modest encroachments” on their privacy.
While other European leaders have criticized the snooping activities of US on other countries and have threatened to abandon trade negotiations, our country has justified it at all times.
I am sure that it won’t question the latest additional findings that state the NSA targeted the Indian embassy in Washington and the Indian UN office in New York with sophisticated surveillance equipment that might have resulted in hard disks being copied.
The Hindu which has been collaborating with the Guardian newspaper reporter Glenn Greenwald reported the findings and further said that the Indian offices were on a top-secret list of countries chosen for intensive spying.
It would be interesting to see if our PM – who is visiting the US currently – would be keen in pulling up such issues or rather park it and continue being silent. I wonder if the opposition is interested in raising such issues and demanding an answer from the present government.