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What Could Be The BJP’s Motive Behind The Personal Data Protection Bill?

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“Seven years… I was part of one of the most horrific changes in the history of US espionage. Target? No more specific people, this time the crowd … World Population One technology brought every human being under the surveillance of the government. We created a technology that a government could use to break the security of all digital media in the world. Every piece of information will reach the palm of their hands. The government will store that information for ages, and use it… at the right time. As needed!”

– Edward Snowden

Data security—these two words can cause the biggest panic today. One company after another, in the virtual world, is stealing our personal information… Analysing it and then using that information against us, just for the sake of earning profit.

What kind of things attract us, what kind of things are we looking for, our photo gallery—everything is in the hands of these companies. Are they taking our permission for this? No, they are not.

Merely installing an app that you see would lead to it asking for access to your phone’s contacts, gallery and some other personal databases.

You will think that if you don’t give it access, the app won’t work. You touch “yes” and that app (or company) can enter your personal world. They target advertisements after understanding the preferences of smartphone or laptop users.

The number of frauds is also increasing by leaps and bounds. I think that the government of India is anxious about this situation. So, they are going to bring in a law to govern informational security.

A Law Regulating Various Social Media Platforms

I believe that this is a great initiative because various apps and websites won’t be able to run dishonest businesses with the information of the citizens of the country.

In my opinion, some of the main reasons for the same are:

1) Accountability of platforms – for the information used on messaging apps and social media platforms like WhatsApp, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter etc. In other words, something being published on your platform means that you have to take responsibility for its merits and flaws.

One can’t wash their hands off the affair saying it was a forwarded message. The person or organisation posting the message must also take responsibility. I think this is a step in the right direction to stop “fake news”. Hopefully, if this law is implemented, violence can’t be perpetrated using such platforms.

Since the law is the same for all, the government will be able to take action against those individuals, organisations and institutions, no matter who they are. Besides, social media platforms, or any such organisation, will not be able to do business in India unless it is registered under this law.

 

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2) Preventing information theft – no company will be able to access the information stored on your phone without your permission. If they do, the government can take legal action. I think that the government of India is particularly concerned about children’s information being misused.

3) Forming a policy-making and regulatory board – they will also have the power to judge. They will listen to the questions of both the plaintiff and the defendant so as to take the necessary decision.

Where Does The Main Gap Lie?

Government agencies won’t be bound by this law. The Indian government has left such a gap in the draft bill. That is, central agencies and intelligence can access the personal database of any citizen. They need any permission.

What kind of texts are stored on your phone, with whom you took a selfie two years ago—the central government will be able to access all this whenever it wants. But, the state governments will not have this right.

What if you go to court against the state in such a case? The government will say that, “This is our legal right. We have to do it for the sake of national security.” You too will have to come back with a bowed head.

What About Pegasus?

The debate around Pegasus, a spying software, entered the Indian parliament and Supreme Court. Everywhere, there was one question: did the government use Pegasus to snoop on prominent Indian citizens via their phones?

The centre has given various answers. Its minister told the parliament that neither the administration nor its agencies had done anything out of the ordinary. Central government lawyers have claimed in the court that everything was done in the interest of national security.

The question remains: has the government violated the right to privacy of ordinary citizens? The Israeli company which makes the software only sells it to governments. In other words, only a government authority could have used it against the citizens of India.

 

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If surveillance becomes legal in this country, then there will be no need for cover-ups. That is what the center wants… A legal seal. Government mercenaries will jump at the chance to see “anti-government” views on the phones of people.

Such people will be dragged to prison. The ghost of terror will be seated on the shoulders of all Indians.

Why Is State Surveillance Being Promoted?

The main target is the 2024 general assembly elections. The Bharatiya Janta Party (BJP) has entered the voting market with one weapon—their IT (information technology) cell. They started working by dividing areas and trying to understand the socio-economic conditions of a neighbourhood or region first.

I think they have different ways of making their propaganda reach different people or regions. In some cases, a little sharp. For others, a little intimacy. The purpose is the same: to provoke the voters by spreading all kinds of false news or religious polarisation.

Its results can be seen during voting. This is a huge infrastructure. Of course, there is a little risk. Because, once a voter loses confidence in such propaganda, they can’t be won back. And, if surveillance is legal? What if the best detectives in the country analyse the situation of the voters?

In such a case, the risk is negligible. In other words, the ruling party will know in advance who the voters are likely to vote for. The meaning is very clear. Panic will increase. The clouds of dictatorship will bigger in the sky of democracy. The spy will be behind you and me.

The ruler will know what we did today. Suppose, some money has been suddenly transferred to your account due to the loss of a distant relative. They know. How? Surveillance. And, their weapon of choice? Your phone.

Philip K Dick died about 40 years ago. He was an American literary figure who used to write science fiction. I would like to end with his ever so relevant lines:

“There will come a time when it isn’t ‘they’re spying on me through my phone’ anymore. Eventually, it will be ‘my phone is spying on me'”.

Featured image is for representational purposes only. Photo credit: Pixabay.
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