Free Software Movement of India condemns the Ministry of Home Affairs notification issued on December 20, permitting 10 security agencies to intercept, monitor and decrypt information "generated, transmitted, received or stored in any computer resource". Under this notification, which seems to involve an expansion in the power of the authorities concerned, not only communication but also data on devices is vulnerable to monitoring and decryption. The notification is utterly against the spirit of recent Supreme Court judgments on privacy and Aadhaar and the Srikrishna Committee Report on Data Protection, and turns the clock back on the privacy framework and the rights of Indian citizens.
The Supreme Court of India on September 26 pronounced its judgement on the validity of the Aadhaar project, upholding it in a 4:1 verdict. While the Free Software Movement of India notes that certain blatant misuses of the project have been identified and struck down, at the same time, the larger infrastructure has been broadly left intact.
FSMI and its allies, from the very beginning, objected to the project due to the possibilities of data leakage, surveillance and exclusions. Our concerns were validated over the years as people were denied basic necessities, leading to even deaths, large-scale data leakages also occurred from various databases.
FSMI strongly criticises the proposed Data Protection Bill put forth by Sri Krishna Committee. The bill completely fails to protect the data of the user while providing Government access to personal data without any checks and balances. The situation where the Data agencies of Government are not being regulated creates a scope for mass surveillance and legitimises any data collection by the Government.
FSMI writes to the the CEO of UIDAI about a patched version of the Enrollment Client Management Platform (ECMP) software used for off-line Aadhaar enrollment, which can potentially be used to bypass geo-location and bio-metrics, and also change the mapping between personal data of Aadhaar holders and their bio-metric data. Given the seriousness of this issue and the imminent threat to our national security given the widespread use of Aadhaar for identification purposes, we hope that UIDAI would treat this matter with utmost seriousness.
The recent controversy over the profiling of millions by consulting firm Cambridge Analytica using the 'stolen' data of Facebook users has come to India with the IT Minister giving belligerent statements about summoning Mark Zuckerberg.
Free Software Movement of India welcomes the unanimous ruling of the nine-judge bench of the Supreme Court declaring privacy to be a fundamental right under the Constitution.
In a move that can only be seen as regressive, the Government of India has blocked access to the website ‘archive.org’, also called ‘Wayback Machine’. No official reason has been given for this block.
A number of organisations had asked the TRAI to call for a consultations on net neutrality and its violations by the telecom operators. Instead, TRAI has come out with a consultation that promises that henceforth, all services - or at least the ones that compete with the telecom companies - is liable to be licensed.
As repeatedly noted by TRAI in its Consultation Paper, the use of online communication applications encourages the use of the Internet and associated services. This not only drives increased data use and therefore increased revenues for telcos but also meets an evident social need.
We as users of telecom services and members of the Indian tech community, were shocked to learn a few days ago that Airtel was carrying out unsolicited packet injection into all content viewed over its 3G networks.
It was revealed that Airtel was tampering with its user's online communications on its 3G network, and maliciously inserting advertisements into its user's data. This ensured that all users of Airtel's 3G networks were forced to view certain specific advertisements inserted by Airtel, irrespective of the content they chose to view on the Internet. Further, by interfering with the data packets to and from its customers terminals, Airtel has clearly acted in violation of the privacy rights of at least thousands if not millions of Indian citizens and has rendered their online communications unsafe.