The Indian Government Wants To Spy On Your Social Media Activities

Harin - Jan 17, 2020

The Indian Government Wants To Spy On Your Social Media Activities

The Indian government has just proposed a set of amendments to the Information Technology (IT) Act, which raises concern over the privacy of Indian citizens.

Some days ago, the Ministry of Home Affairs had granted 10 central agencies permission for computer data tracking, monitoring and intercepting. Now, the government has shifted its focus to online communications as well as social media including all your messages in WhatsApp, Facebook, and Twitter. A set of amendments has been forwarded to the Information Technology (IT) Act by the Indian government. The amendments raise concern on privacy invasion for Indian citizens.

180625 People Deleting Social Media Apps Feature

The amendment suggests terminating end-to-end encryption. This is the kind of encryption that WhatsApp uses for its platform, which doesn’t allow anyone but the message’s participants to read the whole conversation. Once end-to-end encryption is terminated, it would be a lot easier for authorities to spy on your personal messages. To make it worse, the end of end-to-end encryption will make it easier for hackers.

Another point is mentioned in the amendments is that “intermediaries,” which are providers of chat service like Google, Facebook, Twitter, and so on, need to follow the government directives and data requests in 72 hours. According to the government, whether to employ “automated tools” to block unlawful content access or not will depend on these intermediaries.

If you think this sounds oddly similar to the IT Act’s Section 66A from the Supreme Court back in 2015, you are correct. At that time, the government would arrest citizens posting things they did not like on social media.

If you find this similar to what’s happening in China with its strict censorship regulations, you’re absolutely right. In China, the government can delete content from social media if they don’t like it. Any information posted online will need to go through the government’s inspection first, which is probably why you hardly view or read anything related to the leadership of the country. For instance, all mentions or images or mentions of the character Winnie the Pool are banned in China due to people creating memes comparing his appearances with President Xi Jinping.

In the set of amendments, unlawful content is defined as “blasphemous, ethically objectionable, and disparaging," which is undoubtedly a vague definition, to be honest.

Apparently, this draft was discussed last Friday in a meeting with representatives from the Internet Service Providers Association of India, Facebook, Amazon, Google, Twitter, and WhatsApp. However, these tech giants have not released any official statement on this decision yet.

Will these groups abide by the amendments because of the threat of being kicked out of India? Maybe. Should Indian citizens worry about their privacy being invaded? Absolutely.

>>> With A Centralized System, Indian Government Wants To Monitor The Internet


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