In May 2010, the news magazine Outlook published transcripts of phone tapping that recorded individuals including lawmakers from the ruling party.60 The calls, made on mobile phones at a range of different times and locations were reportedly intercepted and recorded using a new GSM monitoring device. By the end of the year, another major scandal had erupted over the leaking of hundreds of intercepted 2009 phone conversations between lobbyist Niira Radia and an assortment of politicians, bureaucrats, and journalists.61 The records revealed evidence of corruption and other abuses, and triggered a lawsuit against the government by Radia’s employer, business tycoon Ratan Tata, who argued that his privacy rights had been breached. The government responded with the claim that Radia was being monitored as a suspected agent of foreign intelligence services.62 Lastly, in the context of a corruption investigation related to a former telecommunications minister, the mobile-phone provider Reliance Communications reported to the Supreme Court that the authorities had submitted over 150,000 phone tapping requests from early 2006 to the end of 2010, an average of 30,000 requests per year.63 The public uproar surrounding these scandals prompted proposals for a law specifying private companies’ obligations with respect to wiretap requests from the authorities. The government was also reportedly planning a commission to adjudicate complaints related to such surveillance.Prior judicial approval for communications interception is not required under either the Telegraph Act or the ITA, and the revised ITA grants both central and state governments the power to issue directives on interception, monitoring, and decryption. All licensed ISPs are obliged by law to sign an agreement that allows Indian government authorities to access user data, though the providers may lack the technical capacity to respond to some requests.
For example, in September 2010, ISPs claimed that they would be unable to comply with a Mumbai Attack Terror Tape—Phone Conversation Part1 (YouTube, February 26, 2009), 10 min., 34 sec., http://www.youtube.com/watchv=1PSauTty9LA.
Saikat Datta, “We, the Eavesdropped,” Outlook, May 3, 2010, http://www.outlookindia.com/article.aspx265191.
“800 New Radia Tapes,” Outlook, December 10, 2010, http://www.outlookindia.com/article.aspx268618.
“2G Scam: Spy Link Sparked Niira Radia Phone Tap,” Hindustan Times, December 10, 2010, http://www.hindustantimes.com/2G-scam-Spy-link-sparked-Niira-Radia-phone-tap/Article1-636886.aspx#; “‘Foreign Agent’ Plaint Led to Radia Phone Tap: Govt,” South Asian Media Net, December 11, 2010, http://mediawitty.com/test/NewsDetail.aspxgroup_id=0&id=10622&folder_id=12&Page_Title=%E2%80%98Foreign%20a gent%E2%80%99%20plaint%20led%20to%20Radia%20phone%20tap:%20Govt.
Dhananjay Mahapatra, “Over 1 Lakh Phones are Tapped Every Year,” Times of India, February 15, 2011, http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/Over-1-lakh-phones-are-tapped-every-year/articleshow/7498154.cms.
“Government Mulling Law to Regulate Phone Tapping,” Daily News & Analysis, December 16, 2010, http://www.dnaindia.com/india/report_government-mulling-law-to-regulate-phone-tapping_1481790.
INDIA FREEDOM HOUSE Freedom on the Net Department of Telecommunications notice requiring them to enable the interception of BlackBerry messages for national security reasons (see below).The national government is reportedly in the process of centralizing its telecommunications monitoring apparatus, which is currently divided among a variety of security agencies and ministries. The overhaul would speed up the collection and processing of intercepted information, integrate disparate databases, and eliminate the need for manual intervention by private companies.Although the situation may vary from state to state, user anonymity is restricted in many cybercafes, as the operators are required to record certain basic user details in registries. The record of each visitor has to be kept for six months, with details including name, address, identification card information, reason for use of the cafe, and contact numbers. Some cybercafes voluntarily exceed these requirements by requesting a passport photo for their records, demanding explanations if users are visiting a cybercafe outside their own localities, or retaining user files for as long as three years.
Moreover, cybercafes are often subjected to intimidation by local police. There have been anecdotal reports of police instructing owners to retain information like Permanent Account Numbers (PANs)—tax-related numbers that the largely youthful clientele would probably lack. Pressure for more rigorous collection of user data has reportedly increased since September 2010, when an anonymous e-mail message took credit for a recent terrorist attack on Taiwanese tourists in New Delhi.67 With respect to mobile phones, the Department of Telecommunications has instructed operators to issue and activate mobile SIM cards only after users register their personal details with the carrier.
India has emerged as a leader among countries urging telecommunications companies to reveal their codes or provide other ways for the authorities to intercept their traffic.
Indian officials have cited the 2008 Mumbai gunmen’s use of mobile and satellite phones to plan and execute their attacks. Also of concern to New Delhi are Chinese companies’ growing stake in the telecommunications infrastructure market, which raises fears of infiltration or sabotage, given the two countries’ historic rivalry and previous Chinese cyberespionage efforts.68 Under guidelines issued in July 2010, equipment suppliers are required to allow the local operator, the government, or designated third-party agencies to Manoj Gairola, “Cannot Meet BlackBerry Deadline, Say Telecom Firms,” Hindustan Times, September 21, 2010, http://www.hindustantimes.com/Cannot-meet-BlackBerry-deadline-say-telecom-firms/H1-Article1-603125.aspx#.
Joji Thomas Philip, “India Begins Testing CMS to Track All Communications,” Economic Times, August 18, 2010, http://economictimes.indiatimes.com/news/news-by-industry/telecom/India-begins-testing-CMS-to-track-allcommunications/articleshow/6332906.cms.
Rahul Tripathi, “Latest IM Mail To Be Used as Evidence in Batla Case,” Times of India, September 27, 2010, http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/delhi/Latest-IM-mail-to-be-used-as-evidence-in-Batlacase/articleshow/6633326.cms.
See John Markoff and David Barboza, “Researchers Trace Data Theft to Intruders in China,” New York Times, April 5, 2010, http://www.nytimes.com/2010/04/06/science/06cyber.html_r=1. The report by the Information Warfare Monitor and the Shadowserver Foundation, Shadows in the Cloud: Investigating Cyber Espionage 2.0, is available at http://www.infowarmonitor.net/2010/04/shadows-in-the-cloud-an-investigation-into-cyber-espionage-2-0/.
INDIA FREEDOM HOUSE Freedom on the Net “inspect the hardware, software, design, development, manufacturing facility and supply chain, and subject all software to a security threat check.”69 The new rules have met with significant objections from international companies, who warn that they exceed previous international practice.70 The Swedish firm Ericsson is among those that have resisted the rules,71 while the Chinese company ZTE was the first to accept them.The government threatened to shut down BlackBerry services altogether in 2010, demanding that the device’s manufacturer, Research in Motion (RIM), provide it with the capacity to read encrypted e-mail and instant messages sent via BlackBerry.73 The dispute remained unresolved at year’s end, after Indian authorities rejected RIM’s proposed solutions to the decryption problem.74 In September 2010, India’s home secretary warned that RIM, Google, and Skype could be required to operate their services from locally based servers, enabling closer monitoring by security agencies.75 Meanwhile, as noted above, the government has threatened to block the introduction and expansion of 3G mobile service across the country until operators provide sufficient means for security-related interception.
The companies were still negotiating with the authorities at year’s end.There have been no reports of government agents physically attacking bloggers or online activists. However, given India’s complex ethnic, religious, and linguistic make-up, verbal intimidation and concerns over the threat that online postings might spark communal violence, attacks from Maoists, or reprisals from religious extremists lead many online writers to be cautious about what they post.
After scandals emerged of individuals from China infiltrating the Indian military and National Security Council,77 there are some indications that India is preparing an offensive cyberwarfare capability. According to press reports in August 2010, the government was Devidutta Tripathy, “Govt Tightens Telecom Rules on Security Concerns,” Reuters, July 28, 2010, http://in.reuters.com/article/idINIndia-50466220100728.
Erika Kinetz, “Tough Indian Telecom Rules Spark Foreign Backlash,” R&D Magazine, August 3, 2010, http://www.rdmag.com/News/FeedsAP/2010/08/information-tech-tough-indian-telecom-rules-spark-foreign-backlash/.
John Ribeiro, “Ericsson Objects to New Indian Telecom Rules,” Network World, August 6, 2010, http://www.networkworld.com/news/2010/080610-ericsson-objects-to-new-indian.html.
Surajeet Das Gupta, “ZTE Agrees to Abide by New Telecom Security Rules,” Business Standard, August 9, 2010, http://www.business-standard.com/india/news/zte-agrees-to-abide-by-new-telecom-security-rules/403960/.
Bappa Majumdar, “BlackBerry Assures India on Access to Services,” Reuters, August 13, 2010, http://www.reuters.com/article/idUSTRE67151F20100813; Mark Lee, “RIM Says BlackBerry Should Be Treated Equally as India Threatens Shut Down,” Bloomberg, August 13, 2010, http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2010-08-13/rim-saysblackberry-should-be-treated-equally-as-india-threatens-shut-down.html.
Kalyan Parbat and Joji Thomas Philip, “DoT Rejects BlackBerry’s Email Decoding Solution,” Economic Times, October 1, 2010, http://economictimes.indiatimes.com/news/news-by-industry/telecom/DoT-rejects-BlackBerrys-email-decodingsolution/articleshow/6661267.cms.
Bibhudatta Pradhan and Ketaki Gokhale, “India Asks RIM, Google, Skype to Build Local Servers,” Bloomberg, September 2, 2010, http://www.businessweek.com/news/2010-09-02/india-asks-rim-google-skype-to-build-local-servers.html.
“Telecom Firms Ask Government Not to Stop 3G Phone Services,” Big News Network, December 21, 2010, http://feeds.bignewsnetwork.com/sid=722420.
Information Warfare Monitor and Shadowserver Foundation, “Shadows in the Cloud: Investigating Cyber Espionage 2.0,” April 6, 2010, http://www.nartv.org/mirror/shadows-in-the-cloud.pdf.
INDIA FREEDOM HOUSE Freedom on the Net considering a plan to enlist civilian professionals in efforts to hack the computer systems of hostile powers. Harsimran Singh and Joji Thomas Philip, “Spy Game: India Readies Cyber Army to Hack Into Hostile Nations’ Computer Systems,” Economic Times, August 6, 2010, http://economictimes.indiatimes.com/news/news-by-industry/et-cetera/SpyGame-India-readies-cyber-army-to-hack-into-hostile-nations-computer-systems/articleshow/6258977.cms.
INDIA FREEDOM HOUSE Freedom on the Net INDONESIA 2009 POPULATION: 235.5 million INTERNET FREEDOM n/a Partly INTERNET PENETRATION: 18 percent STATUS Free WEB 2.0 APPLICATIONS BLOCKED: No Obstacles to Access n/a SUBSTANTIAL POLITICAL CENSORSHIP: No Limits on Content n/a BLOGGERS/ONLINE USERS ARRESTED: Yes Violations of User Rights n/a PRESS FREEDOM STATUS: Partly Free Total n/a INTRODUCTION Digital communication in Indonesia has developed rapidly since 1994, when the first commercial internet-service provider (ISP) introduced it to the public. This growth has expanded avenues for freedom of expression and access to information for ordinary Indonesians. In particular, the popularity of social-networking applications has grown exponentially, with Indonesia becoming home to some of the largest contingents of Twitter and Facebook users in the world.
However, the authorities have also sought to regulate online content in recent years.
In the process, a number of actions taken, including passage of the Law on Information and Electronic Transactions (ITE Law) of 2008, have fallen short of international democratic standards. In 2009 and 2010, there were several incidents in which platforms for usergenerated content were blocked, at least eight individuals have faced prosecution for comments made online, and the government has considered implementing regulations that would require ISPs to filter certain content, including information of political consequence.
Together, these measures and an atmosphere of legal uncertainty have raised concerns that in the near future greater restrictions on internet freedom could emerge. Bloggers, civil society groups, and ISPs have resisted such efforts via online mobilization and advocacy, in some instances successfully fending off new restrictions or reversing existing ones.