Should we bother when big brother is watching?

What are we Indians supposed to put up in the name of national security? Today’s papers feature an article on how the Government of India is cracking down on the likes of BlackBerry, Skype and Gmail. How it wants these services to use encryptions that Indian spooks can then monitor. These are three key services that are used widely across classes of the Indian population. The government plans to send a formal communication to each of these companies in the beginning of July.

The argument in favour says that terrorists are using these services. Somehow it seems that the ‘global war on terror’ seems to have become a poor excuse for infringing on public rights.

What does it really mean? Research in Motion the Canadian manufacturer of BlackBerry devices will be asked by the Indian Government to ensure that its e-mail and data services are made in a format that is readable by Indian Intelligence services in 15 days time.

A similar story has befallen internet telephony giant Skype who needs to ensure that its call services are in formats can be intercepted by our intelligence services.  It makes you wonder, aren’t our intelligence services smart enough to do this on their own on the sly. The entire world now knows they seem to be problem doing so.

Perhaps the most alarming thing is the fact that the government is in talks with Google to ensure its email services are in a format that can be monitored by the Indian Government.

The question that rises to mind is then isn’t anything we do online private anymore? It seemed like only yesterday that there was that ruckus about Facebook and its privacy policy. While innocent people will always wonder whether someone is infringing on their personal space, it is likely that the more nefarious elements of society will resolve to old technology to get off the network. Something that sprung to mind since I recently watched Robin Hood and was amused to see the carrier pigeon sequence.

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