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India Sleepwalks Into a Surveillance Society 292

An anonymous reader writes "ZeroPaid has a fascinating roundup of news stories surrounding the latest surveillance laws passed in India, including a first-hand account of someone writing from inside India. The legislation in question is the Information Technology Act's amendment bill 2006, which was recently passed in the Indian parliament. Things you can't do with the new legislation include surfing for news in Bollywood and looking up porn on the internet. The legislation also allows all transmissions over the internet to be monitored for any form of lawbreaking and permits a sub-inspector to break into your house to make sure you aren't browsing porn on your computer."
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India Sleepwalks Into a Surveillance Society

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  • by strack ( 1051390 ) on Saturday January 03, 2009 @03:41AM (#26309787)
    that joke was funnier when dr cox said it on scrubs.
  • by desinc ( 788828 ) on Saturday January 03, 2009 @04:19AM (#26309917) Homepage

    "Any person who sends, by means of a computer resource or a communication device, â" (a) any content that is grossly offensive or has menacing character; or (b) any content which he knows to be false, but for the purpose of causing annoyance, inconvenience, danger, obstruction, insult, injury, criminal intimidation, enmity, hatred or ill will... shall be punishable with imprisonment for a term which may extend to two years and with fine."

    >> This provision seems to be a way to enforce acts online which would otherwise be quite serious in person. You can't threaten to kill someone IRL, so don't do it on the internet either...

    "Whoever publishes/ transmits/ causes to be published/ transmitted in the electronic form, any material which is lascivious or appeals to the prurient interest or if its effect is such as to tend to deprave and corrupt persons who are likely, having regard to all relevant circumstances, to read, see or hear the matter contained or embodied in it, shall be punished on first conviction with imprisonment of either prescription for a term which may extend to two years and with fine which may extend to five lakh rupees and in the event of second or subsequent conviction with imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to five years and also with fine which may extend to ten lakh rupees.

    If the material is sexually explicit act or conduct then the punishment on first conviction is imprisonment which may extend to five years and a fine which may extend to ten lakh rupees. In the event of second or subsequent conviction imprisonment may extend to seven years and fine to ten lakh rupees."

    >> Correct me if I'm wrong, but this one looks like it prevents people from UPLOADING porn, not from looking at it. I am not aware of the current state of censorship laws in India (I'm sure some slashdotter out there does know), but I would assume that this is in place because publishing physical copies of porn is already illegal in India. I am totally just guessing here.

    ZeroPaid has always gotten a boner about sensationalist material though. I'd be quite surprised if this wasn't completely misinterpreted...

  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday January 03, 2009 @04:21AM (#26309929)

    India, despite honouring itself as the largest democracy in the world, is - on the ground, at least - an exemplar of the class system.

    Your higher classes are the rich families who go to boarding schools then usually foreign universities. The "better" ones may train as doctors, lawyers, etc., but many dabble in politics, where they take advantage of the pretty much universal corruption (especially in poorer areas) and ease with which one can lie to a mostly uneducated set of voters. I have a few family friends in this class.. some have minor royal titles (good enough to get HM The Queen to visit their wedidngs etc.). For them, money by Indian standards is no object, and while they may be socially restricted by tradition - childhood arranged marriage, for example - there's nothing that can't be wrangled out of with $ appropriately channeled to make it look like everyone's still behaving. The unwanted wife becomes a minor tax to pay and ignore.

    What's more interesting, however, is the gap between the small middle class and the often illiterate, uneducated, unhealthy, dirt-poor, often racially inferior (by Indian standards) remainder. If you were you, in India, as a regular middle class Joe, you would have servants. I can't emphasise the extent to which a man's attitude to his fellow man changes when he keeps a gaggle of servants:

    (1) It is not customary to treat your servants as equals in your employ, but as entities who must look up to you and talk to you with deference. From the moment you become aware of your household as a child you are taught to see these humans who are in some way less human than you. Once you can do that with one subgroup of humans, you can do it for any.

    (2) These aren't well paid, well-educated guys with a calling to household service. These are people who need a job and whose fallback on hard times is a dusty street. It is easy to bully a man who cannot talk back.

    In the USA and Western Europe, the significant quibble is - contrary to the perception of the average (Slashdotting) progressive political activist, whose opinions align with only a minority - between working and middle classes. As the blue collar moves up to white, or unionises, he increases costs and competition for the existing white. But in India, there is such a deep, desperate blue collar pool that the whites are under no threat.

    In India, the primary concern is - as in any feudal state - that of the higher classes for the power of the middle. Laws must be written for arbitrary application to any undesirables in this class, while preserving that squeaky clean image for the ignorant voting proletariat that keeps them on your side.

    This is merely one such law.

  • by iammani ( 1392285 ) on Saturday January 03, 2009 @04:22AM (#26309931)

    I live in India and I can assure you that, there are no think of the children or think of the terrorists laws in India (Except POTA for terrorism, which was repealed two years ago, and a bill which is under discussion right now).

    From a glance at the bill, I believe they wanted to cover all immoral acts and also leave the interpretation wide open. This is partly because of incompetence and stupidity of the person who wrote the law and partly because the law will be passed without a discussion in the Lok Sabha (one of the two parliamentary chambers), where I am sure not a single person would even have a vague idea of what the bill is, and subsequently though the Rajya Sabha(thought it does have few bright and technically sound people)

    As Heinlein's Razor" said, "Never attribute to malice that which can be adequately explained by stupidity"

    That said, in India, it is always how the laws are enforced that matters; there are a number of laws, which even lawyers, judges, police do not follow.

    And I do hope these change soon.

  • First they came... (Score:3, Informative)

    by aceofspades1217 ( 1267996 ) <<moc.liamg> <ta> <7121sedapsfoeca>> on Saturday January 03, 2009 @04:30AM (#26309977) Homepage Journal

    When first they came for the criminals I did not speak

          Then they began to take the Jews

          When they fetched the people who were members of trade unions

          I did not speak

          When they took the Bible students, rounded up the homosexuals

          Then they gathered up the immigrants and the gypsies

          I did not speak, I did not speak

          Eventually they came for me and there was no one left to speak

    Hmm, seems vaguely familiar.

  • by freedom_india ( 780002 ) on Saturday January 03, 2009 @04:31AM (#26309979) Homepage Journal

    Reality is much different here:
    Like the stupid ideas of the British Parliamentarians who propose outlandish laws, these are also the same kind of crap.
    The constitution contains a STRONG reference to freedom of speech and expression: Porn being one of them. So the upper house will either return it back or hold it.
    Secondly, the police have lots of other things to do than look at each image and text as porn or not. The ratio is close to 1:1,6333 cops:people. Hence rest assured, this is one law that will not cross the door.
    Thirdly, The Supreme Court is a HUGE people-friendly institution here that does not shy away from arresting and imprisoning even the biggest politician here. Hell, they get a kick out of doing it just for fun. This law will be challenged by an NGO and surely be banned outright, or struck down.
    Lastly, the ruling party is a middle-path: Neither the right-wing BJP nor the extreme left-wing communists. Their priorities right now are the economy and Pakistan, so this law will be forgotten instantly even if passed.

  • by aceofspades1217 ( 1267996 ) <<moc.liamg> <ta> <7121sedapsfoeca>> on Saturday January 03, 2009 @04:33AM (#26309995) Homepage Journal

    Sorry wrong version

    In Germany they first came for the Communists,
    and I didn't speak up because I wasn't a Communist.

    Then they came for the Jews,
    and I didn't speak up because I wasn't a Jew.

    Then they came for the trade unionists,
    and I didn't speak up because I wasn't a trade unionist.

    Then they came for the Catholics,
    and I didn't speak up because I was a Protestant.

    Then they came for me â"
    and by that time no one was left to speak up. []...
    by: Pastor Martin NiemÃller

  • by Calydor ( 739835 ) on Saturday January 03, 2009 @04:41AM (#26310029)
    "causes to be transmitted" is a nice blanket term a lawyer can use to argue that by sending the GET request to the server, you've broken the law.
  • by cyberjessy ( 444290 ) on Saturday January 03, 2009 @05:58AM (#26310359) Homepage

    Here is a copy of The Bill [].

    I just read through it, it makes several strong references to child pornography, couldn't find anything on "regular" porn though.

    But anyway, this worldwide erosion of rights and freedom impacts the rich and poor countries alike. Except that in a country like India, you would have fewer voices speaking out because of other issues which are more important (like Hunger for instance). Such laws become tools for any state to silence dissidents.

    You could silence critics by jailing them for looking at Porn. wow.

  • Re:Why? (Score:5, Informative)

    by iammani ( 1392285 ) on Saturday January 03, 2009 @05:58AM (#26310361)

    I don't get the impression that Hinduism is very strict regarding one's sexual conduct.

    Actually it is not Hinduism that restricts it. I have seen many hindu temple with erotic statues. It was the British, who considered these objectionable and made it taboo during their century old rule. This opinion unfortunately still continues.

  • Re:Shocking (Score:5, Informative)

    by wisty ( 1335733 ) on Saturday January 03, 2009 @06:07AM (#26310395)

    Have you read about the Stanford Prison Experiment? Normal people like you and me can do atrocious things, if we feel justified. Police take a lot of training and talent to *not* act like thugs. Government officials don't have this sort of training.

  • by wisty ( 1335733 ) on Saturday January 03, 2009 @06:15AM (#26310423)

    Nope, it's already registered. And it's a porn site, so it would go too. I guess every domain name morphs into a porn site with an asymptotic probability of 1.0: non-porn sites can morph into porn sites (with a finite probability), but porn sites tend to stay porn forever. QED.

  • Re:Shocking (Score:5, Informative)

    by gweihir ( 88907 ) on Saturday January 03, 2009 @07:49AM (#26310763)

    I think in Germany "Staatsuntreue" (disloyalty to the state) is a major crime, on the level of murder. Except that I can't remember a single case where somebody actually got sued.

    You are completely clueless. First, there is no such crime in Germany. There is treason, but that exists in practically every country. And second, if it existed, you could not be sued, since it would be criminal law, i.e. you would be prodecuted.

    Note: Get information first, then think, then shoot off mount.

  • Re:Shocking (Score:2, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday January 03, 2009 @09:06AM (#26311029)

    Police take a lot of training and talent to *not* act like thugs.

    Really? Adding 'Sir' to the end of threats of violence doesn't make them less unpleasant.

    They always remind me of the dim school bullies who use threats of violence because they really don't have anything else.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday January 03, 2009 @02:16PM (#26312727) is an ultra-leftist site that supports violent Maoists and writes apologia for Islamist Jihadis. This is merely an alarmist piece from someone who fears that the future of Maoism and Islamism in India is threatened. Ultra-Leftists thrive on attention. They are best ignored.

  • Countercurrents???? (Score:2, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday January 03, 2009 @02:34PM (#26312913)

    The website quoted here,, is a far-left extremely anti-India hate site full of racist conspiracy theories and assorted bullshit

    Some examples:

    1.Recent Mumbai attacks were a "Hindu-Jewish false flag operation" (Pakistani media propaganda) []

    2. The holocaust never happened and 9/11 was "an Israeli onspiracy" - by American neo-Nazi Wendy Campbell [] [] []

    I would not take such websites seriously if I were you. It's disgusting that this vile trash even made it through to a page here. Slashdot's standards are slipping.

    If this were any other country or ethnic group other than India or Indians, this would have been caught out.

  • by synthespian ( 563437 ) on Saturday January 03, 2009 @03:32PM (#26313359)

    I believe you were correctly labeled a troll.

    The reasons India is such a poor place are manifold. But a minimal amount of reading and just a little bit more of effort into turning yourself into a well-read individual (instead of a Western prick) would have resulted in you knowing that the most probable cause is that India was a colony of the British Empire and has basically been plundered for centuries, you dickhead.

    So, please, stick your "Christian European/American" sensibility and upbringing and go read some History.

Competence, like truth, beauty, and contact lenses, is in the eye of the beholder. -- Dr. Laurence J. Peter