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India Wants To Monitor Twitter, Facebook 113

swandives writes "India's home ministry has asked its communications ministry to monitor social networking websites such as Twitter and Facebook amid fears that the services are being used by terrorists to plan attacks. The request suggests that the Indian government is trying to broaden the scope of its online surveillance for national security. Under new rules to the country's IT Act that came into force earlier this year, websites and service providers are required to provide government security agencies with information on private accounts, including passwords, on request without a court order."
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India Wants To Monitor Twitter, Facebook

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  • by abednegoyulo ( 1797602 ) on Tuesday August 09, 2011 @01:44AM (#37030018)

    me asking: Is there anything that terrorists can't use?

    • by Anonymous Coward
      Because if I were a terrorist, I would totally use facebook/twitter to plot an attack. *face palm*
      • by Anonymous Coward

        Yeah, that's the reason why India cannot progress any further. That f**ing corrupt government does not know anything about encryption and steganography.
        Good luck with the above scheme. It is bound to fail. It would be better if you bureaucrats, policemen and other officials returned to your work of taking bribes.

      • Well, in the movies the terrorist/bad guy always uses Internet cafes to communicate with his superiors over IRC, maybe they should monitor that too... Like the Bruce Willis re-make of Day of the Jackal.

      • Hay guys! I tough, someone should car-bomb the embassy, @lovekittens, r u up 2 it? #terrorizing

    • by AHuxley ( 892839 ) []
      Seems law enforcement are all over the web 2.0, social media act.
      In Eastern Europe they had to get informants into the protest groups, now politically active people carry their own unique beacons for free.
    • WOW (Score:4, Funny)

      by sakdoctor ( 1087155 ) on Tuesday August 09, 2011 @04:09AM (#37030470) Homepage

      I plan all my terrorist activity in world of warcraft guild chat.
      Though I'm starting to suspect a Night elf who joined recently might be FBI.

      • by Calydor ( 739835 )

        Especially if it's a Horde guild.

        I recall this comic of an agency (maybe FBI) monitoring guild chat when a raid was being set up and freaking out about the need for 'priests' etc. Tried searching for it but can't find it now, unfortunately.

      • I should try that, all my planning goes on in Second Life dominatrix brothels.

    • me asking: Is there anything that terrorists can't use?

      Hmm, let us think about it and we'll get back to you. If you're kind enough to provide us with your contact list we'll be more than happy to deliver the our decision to everyone for you ... in person ... with extreme prejudice.

    • by Threni ( 635302 )

      Shaving foam, it would appear.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      More to do with monitoring dissent. Because very few terrorists are going to be dumb enough to carry out obvious conversations. At least obvious enough to let the incompetent Indian agencies notice (who can't seem to notice things in plain sight until after the fact, because the poor sobs are busy protecting the 'important' people). But when it comes to monitoring peaceful protesters and conducting bogus investigations on activists and imprisoning, they are in top form.

      PS: I feel sad when I see Indians get

    • Governments just pretend this is about terrorism. Actually, terrorism is just the excuse used to justify gathering information.

      Also, before we criticize India, remember that the MOST intrusive government spying is done by the USA, along with Canada, Australia, New Zealand and the United Kingdom. See Project Echelon [] for details. This author wishes to further assert that AUSCANNZUKUS has operated a production quantum computer system since about 1996, a system capable of cracking data transmission encrypte

  • by Anonymous Coward

    Most likely outcome: Dodgy regex being used on large (unoptimized and inefficient) datasets with no real way to check whether any tangible results will be produced. Also hundreds, if not thousands of false positives will pop up. Best result? You nab a few terrorists. If you spend the resources and time however, on a different, more verifiable and tried-and-tested goal (like education and women's rights) you stop many, many more terrorists from ever existing.

    • by Z00L00K ( 682162 )

      And you forgot a programme where you get yourself castrated and get paid in 42 goats.

      Terrorists will always find new paths for their information.

  • Wouldn't it be smarter to use IRC or any other instant messenger rather than two of some of the most popular and heavily monitored social sites on th--

    Hold on, someone's knocking on the door....

  • Passwords? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by rtb61 ( 674572 ) on Tuesday August 09, 2011 @02:09AM (#37030112) Homepage

    Exactly what is your ISP internet password going to provide except for some professional paranoid agent to cheat on your internet account and, to put false entries into your account. The only passwords your ISP should have are the ones to need to access their network and of course your email account. The email account is of course completely arbitrary as it is not encrypted. There is also web server accounts but are the government going to hack these.

    This sounds like the professionally paranoid are expecting ISPs to harvest all the passwords you use on the internet or they intent to plant false information to ensure political and promotional successes.

    The whole idea of warrants is to protect citizens from out of control law enforcement, from investigator who will corrupt cases for revenge, for promotion or even for payment. Which country now claims perfect police officers, those saintly individuals who never lie cheat or steal, keeping in mind that includes 100% of the police force or other investigatory agencies, including political appointees and of course the politicians that control them.

    Warrants were never about gaining access to a citizens private information they are all about protecting citizens from criminal access to private information, from accessing for personal advantage, to distorting it by selective editing it and especially from planting false information. The courts must prove that law enforcement did not tamper with the evidence, the I say so defence is not good enough for us and it should not be good enough for them.

    • The only passwords your ISP should have are the ones to need to access their network and of course your email account

      nah, I believe the objective is slightly more distracting. The combination of two sentences in the article ("service providers in India provide facilities for [..] monitoring of [..] communications from social networking websites such as Facebook and Twitter" and "service providers are required to provide government security agencies with information [..] including passwords") sounds suspiciously like a permanent DPI with tapping of all user/password combinations.

    • by mcgrew ( 92797 ) *

      example []

      Support the Innocence Project []. Now incarcerated former Illinois Governor George Ryan stopped executions in Illinois when it was found that half of the men on Illinois' death row were innocent. The legislature has since abolished the death penalty here for the same reason, but there are still folks in prison who have been framed.

      Citizens need to keep governments on tight leashes, rather than the other way around.

  • by file_reaper ( 1290016 ) on Tuesday August 09, 2011 @02:16AM (#37030128)

    Doesn't the NSA or whatever intelligence agency in the Western world monitor all of you traffic? USA's the most paranoid about terrorism.

    How much of your social activity is monitored by intelligence agencies? Does your democratic process expose any of it?

    I know /. likes to mock and laugh at India, this happened before with the Blackberry encryption case.

    As an Indian citizen living abroad I know about this now, what's your congress doing behind closed doors?

    • by Anonymous Coward

      Do not get defensive dude. It is ok to call a spade a spade. Indian government is one of the most repressive regimes in the world. Secret prisons, torture and custodial death are very common. Would you trust the same watchmen with policing online?

      I am glad these articles come up discussing something or the other about India. It raises awareness at the least. Remeber that may Indians are around here and Indian government != Indian people.

      • by dkf ( 304284 )

        Indian government is one of the most repressive regimes in the world.

        Unfortunately, you're wrong. There are plenty of places that are even worse; a current example is Syria, where the government has been shelling its own people for dissent, and where that well-known Bastion of Freedom, Saudi Arabia, has been protesting the actions loudly. You really don't much more repressive than that.

        Not that this says anything very much about India, but rather that too many governments are simply completely awful. Tone down the hyperbole; the shameful facts don't need it.

    • by trojjan ( 994851 )
      If the American government does it then it's not a very ridiculous thing for India? I'm sorry I totally don't get your point. Take care of your own shit, I don't give a rat's ass about what America's policies are on privacy of citizens(not completely true but you get the point).
    • Not to worry, we spend most of our time here whining about the good ol' US.

      But to answer some of your questions... yes, there's all sorts of domestic spying. Yes, some of cloak-and-dagger stuff gets exposed. Some of it happens quite openly.

      And I don't think anyone is laughing at India. It's more like, "we feel your pain."
    • by decora ( 1710862 ) on Tuesday August 09, 2011 @08:19AM (#37031322) Journal

      only the indian government, and then it has nothing to do with being 'indian', but rather because it is 'government'.

  • Really now (Score:5, Funny)

    by kirbysuperstar ( 1198939 ) on Tuesday August 09, 2011 @02:18AM (#37030140) Homepage
    lol gonna blow up a building u guise brb theyl never know what hit em #terrorism #bomb
  • by Lord_of_the_nerf ( 895604 ) on Tuesday August 09, 2011 @02:21AM (#37030152)
    They just 'friended' a number of the terrorists in the 80s.
  • I live in India and I've witnessed a lot of this asshattery by the clueless so called 'IT/ cybercrime' department of the goverment. Last month they were asking RIM to provide them access to any communication on BlackBerry phones(messenger and browsing) in India, I simply have no idea why they think 'terrorists' will use a particular medium when they have announced they are watching it. Almost all 'terrorist' communication is carried out on phones registered with fake IDs or encrypted email, nothing which t
    • by AHuxley ( 892839 )
      See if you can find a video called "India - Who Killed The Sikhs" ~35 mins.
      Its strange what "data" human rights groups can turn up.
      Your right, why any state actor, supporter would let any "group" ever use any IT is strange.
      Italy was able to put together the trail of a rendition operation in court [] using telco logs.
    • by zget ( 2395308 )

      I simply have no idea why they think 'terrorists' will use a particular medium when they have announced they are watching it.

      Well, that's the thing. People usually laught and think "oh they're so stupid" while not knowing the reasoning or background behind it. I think it's more like IT people thinking they're so much wiser and better and ignoring the fact that there might be an actual reason behind what they want to do. I'm not saying they have such for the Facebook, but the BlackBerry phones does make more sense and it could very well had been the most used phone by malicious persons especially when RIM was advertising it as sec

    • why the fuck would a terrorist get a fucking blackberry?? or post on fb/twitter?
      gsm sims are available @Rs5 each across the whole country and minimal documentation is required. really, all you need is a xerox of *some* id, even uni id will usually be enough. and then you have 300 texts free every day, which should be a terrorist's wet dream.

  • by sauge ( 930823 )
    Sounds like a good reason to bring IT jobs back home (whether European or Americas) to me. Otherwise just let India read your emails and web based applications on demand. That'll be good for proprietary information I am sure.
  • by parallel_prankster ( 1455313 ) on Tuesday August 09, 2011 @02:33AM (#37030188)
    Given that the Indian government has a tough time doing what it should be doing, why add stuff to their list ? I dont think they are ever going to have any one monitoring the way it is supposed to be done. Maybe they use it for illegitimate reasons like against political enemies etc. But in the end nothing ever happens to the bad guys in India and the remaining folks in India just dont care about the government anymore. So keep piling on those rules!!
    • by Anonymous Coward

      Sounds alot like the US to me. (and unfortunatly creeping it's way into other western covernments)

    • by Pieroxy ( 222434 )

      Not mentionning that I have a hard time figuring out how they're going to make sense of these billions tweets every day. The signal/noise ratio must be very low on twitter...

  • This is just a waste of time and money by our government. There are people who dont get to eat , who get denied basic human rights and who dont get safe water to drink. None of them have the time, the energy or the means to come on Facebook and Twitter and crib/complain about it. This is just Indian politicians and bureaucrats trying to sound "cool"
  • Not buying it.. (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward

    Seriously, is anyone else still buying the "terrorist" card any more.

    The only thing those social network sites have been used for in the past year is to organise lots and lots of protests against corrupt governments around the world.

    Nice try.

    • Maybe the government is corrupt and wouldn't like to be overthrown?
    • ah, sh*t. I guess that means the UK government is corrupt too.

      Well, either that or there's a mass surge of people who want new, free, electrical goods.

  • All the comments have been about ISPs but the request to disclose passwords applies to websites as well. Indians will say goodbye to storing hashed passwords, they must be clear text or encrypted with a password stored on the server, which is a little more inconvenient for an attacker. So this is a request that enforces a bad practice and lowers security for everybody, even for people outside India as it increases the global pool of crackable accounts which can be used to do nasty things.
  • can't they do it discretely and write at like everybody else ?
  • Almost every law enforcement agency in the world can do what ever the hell they want without a court order legally. The only thing the courts do is bring in money for the government.
  • Shouldn't the appropriate icon for this submission be Privacy rather than Security ?
  • by xenobyte ( 446878 ) on Tuesday August 09, 2011 @03:18AM (#37030296)

    Because the real terrorists communicate using twitter and are careful to include #terrorinindia in their tweets... or using the wall in a group called "Terror attack against India" on Facebook...

    • by Anonymous Coward

      Nobody cares about terrorists. They are just a buzzword, a scapegoat. Governments want to prevent ordinary citizens to organise against corrupt and immoral governments.

      These measures are put in place so corrupt officials can protect themselves against the people.

  • The law was supposed to say: "any service/medium/product used by more than 10-25% of a given population/market/industry must be monitored/regulated/tapped". But instead they said mail/telephone. So now everyone says "broadening to include" a though anyone ever wanted a country where law enforcement can't monitor any communications of any kind. Since mail/telephone is virtually gone as a method of coordinated communication, of course governments and law enforcement in general are going to start monitoring

  • London calling (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Opportunist ( 166417 ) on Tuesday August 09, 2011 @03:45AM (#37030404)

    Terrorism... yeah, sure.

    Somehow I have the feeling someone's afraid of getting a riot at his hands, and that protesters could use social networking as a means to coordinate it.

    In case someone didn't follow the news and hence does not get the subject line, riots broke out in London, organized and coordinated through social networks.

    But of course, this is not the reason for this idea, and the timing is purely coincidental. They just want to make sure that the people are safe from terrorism. Sure.

  • Monitoring Twitter and Facebook is akin to putting police check-posts on the major highways but not on the back roads which are generally used by the not-so-innocent public for carrying on their activities. The regular users get inconvenienced but the bad guys get through!!
  • Of the many clueless measure India takes against terrorism this will go down in history and will soon be forgotten, like the countless others. What India needs is to get its game together and make a focused long time plan. India is too busy with internal politics and trying very hard not to do the obvious correct thing, and so it is likely to hit very widely off the mark, in countering terrorism. Pathetic and hopeless.
  • by VincenzoRomano ( 881055 ) on Tuesday August 09, 2011 @06:00AM (#37030784) Homepage Journal
    ... and now what are you going to monitor?
    And even when GMail/Yahoomay/Whatevermail will provide you with access to my mailbox, what do you think you are going to get?
  • It's telling that an Australian website is reporting this news rather than any of the Indian mainstream media.

  • Facebook, Twitter want to Monitor India.
  • It's funny how India tries to show off that it is so damn serious about cracking down on terrorism and yet they don't have the balls to hang the sole terrorist convicted in Mumbai attacks. He has been sentenced to death, however, for some reason which is beyond me, he is allowed to appeal to president of India who has the power to reverse the death penalty. And the president is considering it. WTF?
  • All your social media are belong to us!

  • And in the US []. The Pentagon has budgeted $42M for the expressed purposes of monitoring and influencing social media for the following:
    "1. Detect, classify, measure and track the (a) formation, development and spread of ideas and concepts (memes), and
    (b) purposeful or deceptive messaging and misinformation.
    2. Recognize persuasion campaign structures and influence operations across social mediasites and communities.
    3. Identify participants and intent, and measure effects of persuasion campaigns.
    4. Coun

    • i suppose its becoming too commonplace in the us for people to care anymore. but when a govt that has so much else of importance on its plate wastes resources on such shitty things, it IS news.

  • i'm glad that all my (fb/gmail, etc) web traffic is encrypted. and since google stood up to china, i'm sure they'll never open up their data to indian govt either.

When you are working hard, get up and retch every so often.