Welcome to our police state

From here.

In the name of fighting terrorism governments across the world have been creating new regulations that infinitely augment the state power of surveillance with no meaningful public or parliamentary debate.

The Information Technology (Amendment) Bill, 2006 passed by the Indian Parliament recently allows the government to intercept messages from mobile phones, computers and other communication devices to investigate any offence. Not just cognizable offence, the kind you witnessed in Mumbai 26/11, but any offence.

Any email you send, any message you text are now open to the prying eyes of the government. So are the contents of your computer you surfed in the privacy of your home.

Around 45 amendments have been made to the original Act, which now treats both publishers of online pornography and its consumers on equal footing. A law so sweeping in its powers that it allows a police officer in the rank of a sub-inspector to walk in or break in to the privacy of your home and see if you were surfing porn or not. It’s the personal morality of the official that will decide whether the picture/content you were looking at was lascivious or appeals to prurient interest.

For worse go read the article. More information on Wikipedia.

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4 responses to “Welcome to our police state

  1. The best thing to do is to encrypt all the email you send. Although that still doesn’t make surfing any safer, it will not allow any third party to snoop around your email.

    And yes, gmail is not safe (for unencrypted mail). The best thing is to create your own encryption software and encrypt (RSA will work) with a large key.

    But alas, using large keys, that the government cannot decipher, is illegal too…

  2. The fact remains that any terrorist can hijack an unsuspecting user’s email ID. The government’s initiative is to be lauded, at a time when governments of our neighbour are both hand-in-glove with the terrorists, as well as have no idea of the scale of their proliferation. I welcome the ban on unsecured Wi-fi networks as well.

    What works for the USA need not work for India. Religion and moral debates on prudishness are rather more intense in India than in the USA. The hallmark of a free society is not the exploitation of women (and men) to produce pornography and make money from it (often by illegal methods), so why should the government not take a stand against the consumers of porn? If rape is likened to moral degradation and power-centric corruption, can porn not be considered harmful for society?

    What has worried me in the past is that the government is not powerful enough to implement its laws and that its law doesn’t have a long enough arm. If peace in the short term means having a big brother looking over the citizen’s shoulder, I am all for it, as long as everyone can live without fear of terrorists. We can afford to relax in a democracy with free speech only when we have friendly neighbours who don’t hate free speech and freedom of expression. Until then, we will have to take countermeasures to defend the very things we stand for.

  3. Philramble – my response may not directly address some of the points/comments you made. But will give you a good idea of issues I will not get into arguments about. I argue only when I feel less-than-clear or confident about my views and need a spirited debate to thrash things out. Which is not the case with any of the following:

    1. I hold libertarian views that border on the anarchic and most secessionist movements have my support (however immaterial it may be to them).
    2. I am also for legalising pornography (with the exception of forced/clandestine filming and child pornography), prostitution and cannabis.
    3. I do not believe anyone has the right to decide what I should read/watch/speak about. In fact, I think if we want other countries/nations/peoples/etc to embrace democracy and free speech, we should live those values, we should practice them ever more strongly. Not clamp down on them. I think imposing restrictions in the name of providing security is at best a misplaced belief and at worst a blatant lie.

  4. While I don’t intend to have a debate/discussion here, I felt I had to respond to your three views. Naturally, I don’t expect you to respond, but only mean to make my stance clear on the issue. As time progresses I may re-examine some of these ideas as I understand more, so I cannot say that these are views set in stone for me.

    I often believe that secessionist movements in many cases are not only unnecessary, but also prevent people from working together and elevating falsehood to the status of truth. Zionists, Maoists, Islamic fundamentalists and groups like the LTTE have this in common that they often prey on their own kind and on others and rely on crimes like money laundering, generating sympathy in order to justify heinous crimes, etc., to get their way. Military separatism is a virus not unlike terrorism, that depends on poverty, illiteracy and populism to gain a stronghold on a set of people and establish a political upper class by means of opportunism.

    Moral depravity, prostitution and increased rates of substance abuse are socially detrimental, in my view, and I believe that the legalization of alcohol and prostitution should be contested, and that the legalization of psychotropic drugs should be banned and heavily regulated.

    I don’t believe in a Big Brother state such as China, but I believe a democratic state that has relaxed immigration and import policies should assert its national security. I believe that there is no such thing as complete freedom, especially in a system where its individuals are mutually inter-dependent. I also believe that since the media already regulate what people read, write and express, the power of a democracy in terms of its openness and the security of a government’s clandestine information is dependent on the media.

    I don’t believe your views would be impossible to hold in an ideal world.

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