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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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  • Shocking (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday January 03, 2009 @03:22AM (#26309715)

    A government wanting to decrease people's access to information, bit by bit. What a surprising turn of events.
    Seems that a good government ass-kicking is may be in order. Course, that seems to be the case in several places.

  • by The Master Control P ( 655590 ) <ejkeever&nerdshack,com> on Saturday January 03, 2009 @03:33AM (#26309759)
    Make the idiot masses panic with a spectacular, loud, but in all honestly tiny (a few psychopaths with boats and guns) action. Foolish laws are drawn up despite everyone "knowing" where they go. If there's any sign that the society is not going there, repeat to set it back on course to its own destruction if possible.
  • by __aatgod8309 ( 598427 ) on Saturday January 03, 2009 @03:37AM (#26309773)
    Considering it's India, I'd be more inclined to thank the lasting Victorian influence of the British Empire.
  • Morality police (Score:5, Insightful)

    by ardor ( 673957 ) on Saturday January 03, 2009 @03:49AM (#26309829)

    I can already see Indian sub-inspectors extorting people with records of porn they watched. Seriously, a morality police is among the worst things imaginable, it is like the crown of this totalitarian bill.

  • Meh... (Score:2, Insightful)

    by nitsnipe ( 1332543 ) on Saturday January 03, 2009 @04:04AM (#26309873)
    If there's one thing that you really can't control today is the flow of information.
    Constructing an Orwellian society is impossible because geeks are always going to be many steps ahead.
    Sadly though, the mentallity of many governments is still stuck in the past and most politicians have no clue what PGP is.
  • Re:Meh... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by MBGMorden ( 803437 ) on Saturday January 03, 2009 @04:09AM (#26309889)

    I don't know. Depending on how strict the regime gets, I can easily see things being so risky that people simply don't want to mess with the geek-created tools, even if they exist.

    If I'm risking an RIAA lawsuit for breaking some DRM, then who the eff cares. I'll take my chances. If the government is going to break down my door, drag me out and execute me if they catch me looking at porn, then I think I'd be inclined to just not download the stuff anymore, tempting as it might be.

    You can't always rely on technical subversions to get you through this type of stuff. Fight it when it starts, when we still have a chance to beat it (and while fighting any government legislation is still legal).

  • It's time (Score:5, Insightful)

    by nightfire-unique ( 253895 ) on Saturday January 03, 2009 @04:21AM (#26309923)

    When are we, as humans, going to learn that we don't have to cater to the whiny religious/moral nutcases out there?

    Politicians: GROW A SPINE. When a whiny anti-sex/anti-drugs/anti-rock-and-roll nutcase writes you, complaining that their sensibilities are affected by the private actions of others, tell them to get bent.

    Please, please, please. For the good of society and the world. Tell those miserable people that they can stick their pathetic little psychosis where the sun doesn't shine.

    We rely on you. You are our leaders. Please act like it!

  • Re:Shocking (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday January 03, 2009 @04:57AM (#26310107)

    How is this mod'd insightful/interesting? What's interesting is that many 'governments' are made up of people - like you and me. What's interesting is that as soon as you and me take on this civic duty, we somehow morph into some sub-lifeform who are automatically declared corrupt and tossed into the gutter by every half-wit with an internet connection.

    Same with police officers etc. Hint: they may actually live and have a family right in your neighborhood -- they're not bred in some mill by the 'government' and 'grown' specifically to prevent you from doing whatever you feel like.

    The statement above is no better than a hardcoded MOTD -- it does nothing constructive to address the matter at hand.

  • Why? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Tubal-Cain ( 1289912 ) * on Saturday January 03, 2009 @05:37AM (#26310281) Journal

    Things you can't do with the new legislation include...looking up porn on the internet.

    What moral standard are they claiming compels them to make this restriction?
    I don't get the impression that Hinduism is very strict regarding one's sexual conduct.

  • Re:It's time (Score:3, Insightful)

    by phantomfive ( 622387 ) on Saturday January 03, 2009 @05:51AM (#26310323) Journal
    You do realize you are not the only person in the world, right? Maybe you are pro-sex, pro-drugs, pro-rock-and-roll, but well, let me explain to you how democracy works. Politicians follow the votes (this can be disregarded in cases where people don't care, in which case the politicians are free to do whatever they want.....that's where lobbyists get a lot of their power). If enough people want something, then the politician HAS to vote in favor of it, otherwise he will be voted out of office, and someone else will replace him. Sometimes laws are even put up to vote directly by the people.......this is what happened recently in California on proposition 8, where the majority of voters decided that gay marriage is not something they wanted (for the record, in case you care, I voted against prop 8, although I really don't care much either way). So gay marriage is illegal. Sucks if you're gay and want to get married, but well, you have an option, you can convince enough other people that gay marriage is a good idea and put it up for vote again.

    We rely on you. You are our leaders. Please act like it!

    Where did you get the idea that you can rely on politicians as leaders? You do realize that the whole point of democracy is that we CAN'T rely on our leaders? If politicians always had their subjects' best interests in mind, then a monarchy would be a significantly more efficient way to get things done. But they don't, and thus we have a democracy so we can kick them out if we don't like what they are doing.

    The end result is that in our society, the most powerful way to get something done is to convince enough of your fellow citizens to vote a certain way. Once again, this is what happened in California when lots of people in favor of proposition 8 cared enough about it to go call their neighbors and reason with them why it was a good idea. The opponents of prop 8 didn't have the same ambition, which is why at the end of the day they lost. They didn't convince enough people that they were right. That is how power works in a democracy.

  • Re:Morality police (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Hurricane78 ( 562437 ) <deleted.slashdot@org> on Saturday January 03, 2009 @05:54AM (#26310341)

    Especially since there is no relation between sex and morality. It's just so common to use that lie that the churches use to make their believers sinners forever, that everybody thinks there is.

  • by TapeCutter ( 624760 ) on Saturday January 03, 2009 @06:37AM (#26310479) Journal
    "Once you can do that with one subgroup of humans, you can do it for any."

    To a westener in India it stands out like dogs-balls but if you look again you will find all humans spend a lot of time behaving like this, wealth just makes the behaviour more potent. Once you see that, all of the random ass-headed cruelty of the world will suddenly make perfect sense [cracked.com]. Not saying it's right or wrong it's just the way our wetware bios works.
  • by the_womble ( 580291 ) on Saturday January 03, 2009 @06:48AM (#26310511) Homepage Journal

    Actually he has a point. Modern India (the same is true of Sri Lanka) has much more strict sexual mores than they once did. The change is undoubtedly due to British and Islamic influences: although nationalists will not thank you for pointing it out.

  • Re:Shocking (Score:2, Insightful)

    by KDR_11k ( 778916 ) on Saturday January 03, 2009 @07:28AM (#26310683)

    That's because most people who get into a position of power got plenty of courting from the big lobby groups before getting the job.

    Besides, some philosophies automatically declare any human as corrupt and it's no surprise that this becomes more of a problem as the human's power increases.

  • Re:Morality police (Score:2, Insightful)

    by rohan972 ( 880586 ) on Saturday January 03, 2009 @09:15AM (#26311055)

    Especially since there is no relation between sex and morality.

    All actions can have moral implications including sex. Sex can be done immorally, people just differ on where the moral line is drawn. Molestation, rape, consensual sex where one party knowingly infects the other with STD's.

    It's just so common to use that lie that the churches use to make their believers sinners forever, that everybody thinks there is.

    I've never heard of any church preaches sex is inherently sinful, just that it should be within marriage and excluding gays. While you obviously disagree with that position it would be appropriate for someone condemning the lies of others to be a bit more diligent with the truth themselves.

  • Re:It's time (Score:2, Insightful)

    by couchslug ( 175151 ) on Saturday January 03, 2009 @10:06AM (#26311291)

    "When are we, as humans, going to learn that we don't have to cater to the whiny religious/moral nutcases out there?"

    When there is enough backlash against the superstitionists to take them out of power, and that takes a lot. The most hopeful chance was Communism, because Communists are willing to kill religious people and destroy their institutions by force. The rest of Communism was awful, but they had the guts to fight superstition woith bullets. Religious people won't yield because their belief doesn't allow it, so they must be fought. That makes societies like mainland China the most hopeful for the future. While we in the West cravenly yield to the Evangeliban and the toxic flow of Muslim immigrants, China is willing to use force against religion.

    Our laws insist that we must socially yield and surrender to everyone, so we do.

  • by radtea ( 464814 ) on Saturday January 03, 2009 @10:25AM (#26311393)

    Most terrorists outside the Middle East are doing it for purely secular (usually wanting a seperate state or something simlilar) causes.

    No, false, wrong.

    No terrorist anywhere cares one whit about achieving any end except to blow things up and kill people. Anyone who argues otherwise must have failed to notice something: that terrorism routinely and completely fails to achieve the stated aims of the people who commit it.

    The British are still in Ireland. The Jews still in Palestine. Every one of the groups you list have been around for DECADES and not one of them has come remotely close to getting what they claim to want.

    Everyone who belongs to or supports any of those groups has chosen a method that is known to fail pretty much 100% of the time--and some pedantic idiot is already writing a reply to me claiming that the Galambosians or someone were successful with terrorism in the early 1800's, having utterly missed my main point, which is that TERRORISM IS NOT THE METHOD OF CHOICE FOR ANYONE WHO ACTUALLY WANTS TO ACHIEVE THEIR STATED END, BECAUSE TERRORISM ALMOST ALWAYS FAILS.

    Choosing terrorism as your method for political change is like choosing winning the lottery as your method of retirement savings. I can't prove it won't work, and you can point to a tiny handful of cases where it has, but you're still an idiot if you do it, and if you're stupid enough to defend anyone doing it or suggesting what they are doing is remotely rational then you need either your mental or your moral capacity checked.

    So why do people continue to believe that terrorists are interested in ANYTHING other than simply killing people, given that terrorism is such a failure at achieving anyone's stated ends? We have examples from people like Gandhi as to what actually works, and the first question anyone should ask a terrorist is, "Have you thought of creating an ashram?"

    Wake up, people! Terrorism is committed and supported by people for whom KILLING PEOPLE IS A DEEPLY SATISFYING ACT, and nothing more.

  • by zenyu ( 248067 ) on Saturday January 03, 2009 @11:22AM (#26311681)

    Wake up, people! Terrorism is committed and supported by people for whom KILLING PEOPLE IS A DEEPLY SATISFYING ACT, and nothing more.

    I think you need to visit some conflict zones and talk to people on both sides. And you need to read a little history. While there may be a larger than average representation of sociopaths in terrorist groups, they are far from the majority within any cohesive, and hence long lasting, terrorist group. Also, no terrorist group can survive long without a support base. Throughout history these have melted away as soon as fairly basic human needs are met. Do you really think George Washington could have operated very long without the 30% of the colonists supporting him in his fight against the government and the rule of law?

    I'm not saying the hatred goes away as soon as basic needs are met, just talking to some average Turks and Kurds will quickly convince you of that, but in a generation or two it does. How much do we still hate German Americans, or Irish Americans, or Italian Americans? I think you would have a hard time finding anyone under thirty who has any sort of deep seated hatred in America for those groups. Yet many people were bombing, rioting and subverting the US government because of their hatred for these new groups; and this was within my grandparent's lifetime. Most importantly the hatred does not HAVE to go away for there to be peace, the overwhelming majority of people just want to live ordinary boring lives, once they have seen the horrors of war they will fight to keep the peace if the peace allows them to live ordinary boring lives.

    BTW I also disagree with the previous poster that most terrorist wars are purely secular. The underlying reasons for the conflicts come down to the same basic human needs, but almost every war is supported by the local deities. The only exceptions I can think of are the American Anarchists and the Russian Communists. I'm sure there are more, but if only because most people believe in some imaginary being, most wars are supported by one or more of them.

  • by jackbird ( 721605 ) on Saturday January 03, 2009 @11:23AM (#26311687)
    I would argue that terrorism in Israel/Palestine, through the overreactions it intentionally provokes from the other side, has been extremely effective at effecting an almost 180 degree shift in public perceptions of Israel in Europe and the USA. "The Jews still being there" is not a rational yardstick for Palestinian success or failure unless you think genocide is an acceptable political goal - there are millions of Jews in Israel, and most of them, most of their parents, and a lot of their grandparents were born there. And don't tell me that Hamas, and the PLO before them, ruling Gaza and part of the West Bank; and Hezbollah the de facto government of large parts of Lebanon, isn't a measure of success by most yardsticks.

    The sad reality is that terrorist/guerrilla tactics are the only way to fight an opponent with a technologically modern army if you don't have one yourself - bleed the enemy and your own civilians until civilians in the enemy country and the rest of the world make it politically impossible for the enemy to continue on their course.

  • Re:Shocking (Score:5, Insightful)

    by knutkracker ( 1089397 ) on Saturday January 03, 2009 @12:30PM (#26312055)

    What's interesting is that many 'governments' are made up of people - like you and me

    Er... no.

    'You and me' are not currently in political office or trying to be. This is for a reason, i.e. we don't care enough about getting power to make a serious attempt. Those who do, are by definition different to the rest of us.

    This gets interesting when you realise that there is a stable prevalence of about 1% [wikipedia.org] for clinical psychopaths in any population and that being able to not give a shit about [torture/mass unemployment/civillian casualties/back stabbing your colleagues/puppies dying] (delete as applicable) is pretty much a job requirement for many political figures. Put simply, you will likely find a larger proportion of psychopathic individuals as you move higher up any command heirarchy. This why surveillance society is a bad idea - the people in charge are less likely to have a moral conscience than the rest of us.

    See this film [wikipedia.org] if you need further information/spine chills.

  • Re:Shocking (Score:4, Insightful)

    by dryeo ( 100693 ) on Saturday January 03, 2009 @12:49PM (#26312171)

    Power attracts the corruptible.

  • by speedtux ( 1307149 ) on Saturday January 03, 2009 @12:51PM (#26312193)

    People "like you and me" don't run governments, so we don't morph into anything. The reason governments and bureaucracies are so bad is because they attract power hungry people who don't know their own limitations. I mean, would you be callous or stupid enough to order the Iraq war? How can someone like Palin possibly think she is capable of running the country?

    It's the same with police. Who do you think joins the police force? What kind of person do you think wants to deal day-in and day-out with drunks, drug addicts, and violence? What kind of person do you think wants to carry a gun, knowing that they may have to use it occasionally? It's either people who are very naive, or people who enjoy violence, or people who simply don't have a choice.

    No, sorry, police and government are not made up of "people like you and me".

  • by speedtux ( 1307149 ) on Saturday January 03, 2009 @01:24PM (#26312391)

    "I would argue that terrorism in Israel/Palestine,"

    You're treating the situation as if it were symmetric, but it is not. Israel doesn't commit terrorism against the Palestinians. That may sound better, but it's actually worse: the Israeli army implements the will of Israeli citizens, so every citizen is responsible for their acts. In contrast, Palestinians are not responsible for the acts of Palestinian terrorists, since they have no control over them.

    "there are millions of Jews in Israel, and most of them, most of their parents, and a lot of their grandparents were born there"

    Who lived where and when is irrelevant at this point. Jews and Arabs live in the same region now, and Israelis have power over Palestinians. Israel has used this power to implement a system of apartheid and create a democracy with citizenship based on religion and ethnicity. It is historically understandable why that happened, and I wouldn't presume to suggest a solution, but that doesn't change the fact that what Israel is doing is wrong.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday January 03, 2009 @02:38PM (#26312941)

    "zionist" terrorists played a big part in driving the British out of the mandate of Palastine (bombing hotel with British servicemen inside)

  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday January 03, 2009 @05:22PM (#26314177)

    Well, history is written by the winners. And I think they would not call themselves terrorist.

    I mean what do you think the English thought of George Washington?

    Would you call Staufenberg a terrorist? Maybe, but most people would not. It is hard to call someone a terrorist if you agree with his actions.
    What about the Vietcong, were they terrorists? What about people like Lenin, or Castro? What makes his actions during the revolution different from terrorists?

  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday January 03, 2009 @08:11PM (#26315397)

    The British are still in Ireland. The Jews still in Palestine. Every one of the groups you list have been around for DECADES and not one of them has come remotely close to getting what they claim to want.

    The British left Palestine after a large terrorist attack on them. So there is evidence that terrorism works.

    On 22 July 1946, members of the terrorist Irgun group bombed the King David Hotel in Jerusalem, which was the headquarters of the British Mandate in Palestine. Within two years, the British were out of Palestine.

    A wise scholar will do some research and find out who was in the Irgun terrorist group, and what happened to that group. If some people took part in terrorist activities and ended up in charge of a country, that would be pretty strong evidence that terrorism works. It would possibly also show that they carried out terrorist attacks in order to achieve their stated end, and not "for the satisfaction of killing people".

    These facts contradict your theory. The facts won't change. Will your theory change?

  • Re:Shocking (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Dripdry ( 1062282 ) on Saturday January 03, 2009 @08:15PM (#26315405) Journal

    I'm sorry, but I have to speak up here.

    I have 3 friends who have all gotten starting jobs as police offices in different districts in the last 4 years.
    2 of them quit after a few months when it became obvious that the acts they were asked to commit were not even close to being in line with serving the public interest and safety. The third person is seriously questioning his career choice.

    I say that without proper oversight and regardless of training, people with too much power often do despicable, selfish things because they can a) Get away with it and b) the justification for these acts comes from having that power in the first place.

    just my 2 cents

Thus spake the master programmer: "When a program is being tested, it is too late to make design changes." -- Geoffrey James, "The Tao of Programming"