[op-ed snap] Towards a database nation

  1. Theme: An increase in surveillance measures by the government without appropriate public debate.
  2. Surveillance Measures and information databases in question: The Central Monitoring System, The National Intelligence Grid and the Aadhaar.
  3. The Central Monitoring System (CMS) is scanning citizens’ communication in real time in Delhi and Mumbai and its reach will be expanded gradually.
  4. CMS enables law enforcement agencies to get near real-time access to intercepted communication without the involvement of the telecommunications service provider.
  5. This raises concerns of potential surveillance excesses by the government and private information of citizens falling in the wrong hands. But this system has never been discussed meaningfully with the public, and no efforts have been made to explain what safeguards prevent its misuse.
  6. The National Intelligence Grid (NATGRID) which links multiple government databases will be operational next year. NATGRID is classified among the ‘intelligence and security’ organisations and is exempted from the Right to Information Act.
  7. Also, it is not known whether Aadhaar, with its access to citizens’ biometric identification and its connection with various databases like banking, health etc , will be a part of NATGRID.
  8. Additionally, various critical services have been made contingent on Aadhaar numbers.
  9. Also, it does not offer adults a way to withdraw consent and does not offer the next generation the opportunity to reverse their parents’ decisions.
  10. There is no mechanism/obligation on the part of government to inform the concerned citizens when their data is breached.
  11. There is no clarity on security of these databases despite major data breaches having been reported from entities ranging from the U.K. government to Adobe, Sony and Ashley Madison.
  12. Also, there has been no discussion on the consequences of a data breach.
Cyber Security – CERTs, Policy, etc
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