Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Keyloggers in Indian cyber cafés scare liberals

Police in Mumbai, India will soon make it compulsory for cyber cafes to have keyloggers installed that will enable the capture of user activity on public computers at cyber cafes, according to a report from a Mumbai paper.

The move will help police keep a track on terrorists who are increasingly using modern technology to communicate, the report said.

Not unexpectedly, individual rights groups have expressed opposition to the move, saying it will breach privacy, according to Ars Technica

For a country that has seen a large number of terrorist attacks, protecting privacy is a small concern for people when compared to protecting their lives.

People in the country do not also transact a lot online, so fears of theft of credit card or bank information are quite exaggerated.

Mumbai itself has been the victim recently of bomb blasts on trains that killed people by the hundreds. In Hyderabad in south India, terrorist bombs killed a large number of people, including children.

It is also pretty well-documented that terrorists have used mobile phones and the Internet for their violent objectives. Public cyber cafes have provided terrorists the anonymity that a private Internet connection does not. Indian rules do allow police interception of both telephony and Internet communications in the interest of national security. The police have previously tried getting cyber cafes to ask for identity cards from users, but that hasn’t really worked out.

By opposing keylogging that could save lives, left liberals have their priorities misplaced. Reminds me of animal welfare organizations, who oppose killing of stray dogs in Indian cities, even as these dogs have been repeatedly responsible for maiming and killing children.

Honest people don’t have to worry about interception, as long as there are safeguards against misuse of private data. Civil society has to work to make sure that private data collected is not misused. That is where privacy rights organizations and all of us have a role to play.

Also by keylogging cyber cafes in Mumbai alone, the police may force terrorists to move to Mumbai’s suburbs or other cities. The measure will have to be countrywide.

1 comment:

Namrata said...

Object to your saying animal activists have priorities wrong. We care for humans. Anything wrong in caring for animals too ?