The recent exposure in the media of the US National Security Agency (NSA) mining internet and telephone data for intelligence purposes violates the sovereignty of nations and the privacy of individuals who use such internet services. The media revelations indicate that major telecom companies such as Verizon, AT&T and internet companies such as Google, Microsoft, Yahoo, Apple and Facebook have, in effect, become tools of the US government under the PRISM project. They also intercept cable lines for this purpose.
It is significant that India is a major target of such intelligence gathering. It is the fifth largest target of such snooping, even ahead of countries such as China and Russia. The US official defense, including President Obama’s own response, is that the NSA was spying only on “foreigners”; no US citizens’s privacy was violated and no US laws were broken; and this was being done in the US national interest.
It is now clear that the current control of internet and its global governance under a US Department of Commerce contract means that the US government controls the internet. With the increase of internet’s importance to global communications, the dangers of such untrammeled control for other countries and the rights of its citizens are now clear. India must immediately protest on such violation of its citizen’s rights and violation of its sovereignty.
Not only should the government of India protest against the intrusive intelligence gathering by the US with the help of companies such as Microsoft, Google, Yahoo and Facebook etc, but India should also join hands with other countries to make these companies accountable to people who use their services across the globe. India must also press for an immediate initiative to democratize internet governance and ensure that the US intelligence agencies do not override the sovereignty of countries and the rights of individuals.