[Reader-list] :::::::::::Surveillance:::::::::::::::::::::::::

pratap pandey pnanpin at yahoo.co.in
Fri Jun 28 03:48:02 IST 2002

Dear Shuddha, and Beatrice, and all
I address Shuddha first of all: Shuddha, I sent you this mail that was also meant for the List. Could you please post it? I have lost it ( after spending 2 hours on composing it). I can't find it, man! 
To get on to the subject of surveillance: why is it that the state has the power to "look over"?
WE look over our neighbours. We gather info on them. But that's just for evening chat.
Now this fascist State (which we are unable to contest) has asked for "military grade" equipment to watch over what I say to anybody on the Net.
Forget identity cards. We are into something more serious. We are into the words we use. 
Every word I send to the List is going to be watched.
Gimme a break!
How do I fuck these watchers? How do I fuck this technology that promises to constantly read me, interpret me as either a patriot or a terrorist?
Tell me, Shuddha, how do write into the List and at the same time send these invisible people love-messages? I want to send to these people (this operative, not at Data Access, but somewhere else) messages that is going to make then squirm. How do I do it? Tell me.
  Shuddhabrata Sengupta <shuddha at sarai.net> wrote: Dear Pratap, Beatrice, and all on the Readers List,

I am writing after a long absence but have been following with great interest 
the issues raised by Pratap Pandey, and responded to, by Beatrice, on 

Some months ago, I had written about the possibility of a new identity card 
scheme as a measure of surveillance - that the Government of India is 
actively contemplating. At that time, I recall that in private conversations, 
many had dismissed this scheme, and its implications, as impossible to 
implement, for technical and logistical reasons. I was never so sanguine, and 
am not sanguine now. The point is not whether or not you can create a system 
that requires the issue of a billion identity cards with imbedded biometric 
information, and wherther or not you can set up a database sophisticated and 
comprehensive enough to deal with this system once it is in place. In fact, 
it need not be a billion strong. it may only be used in cities, and in bodred 
areas (where it is already in place). The existence of even a backbone of 
this system is enough to generate the symbolic apparatus, and the behaviour 
patterns that accompany the rise of an intensive state surveillance regime. 
The development of the "identity card" scheme is alive and well, and 
sporadic news of this measure continues to surface, quietly. 

I am enclosing below an excerpt from a news report of a speech made by our 
President in waiting A P J Abdul Kalam, or Dr. Strangelove, himself. (has 
anyone noticed the strange resemblence he bears to the visage of Alfred E 
Newman, who has graced the covers of so many issues of that respectable 
journal called the Mad Magazine) 

Anyway, in this speech, (which he delivered to Nasscom, the National 
Association of Software and Service Companies in Hyderabad) this 
engineer-nuclear scientist-bomb builder-rocket launcher-media darling-veena 
player-patriot-personnel manager-bharat ratna, called for an integrated 
identity card for better surveillance. 

With him at the helm of the republic, I feel doubly re-assured that bade 
bhayya, or big brother, will indeed be looking gently down on all our 
biometric profiles, and taking notes.

So here is the full story - 
Kalam for introduction of "national citizen card"
Express News Service 
New Delhi, June 25: 

Presidential candidate A.P.J. Abdul Kalam on Tuesday suggested introduction 
of a multi-purpose "national citizen card" as a means to combat hackers at 
the workshop organised by NASSCOM on information security. 

"Our communication network and information generators have to be protected 
from the electronic attacks through surveillance, monitoring and building 
technologies to handle such attacks," he said. According to him, the national 
citizen/smart card needs an integrated approach from multiple departments and 
can be an instrument which can be used as a voter ID card, to operate bank 
account, a ration card among other applications. It was essential for India 
to become a knowledge power within a decade, he said, and that it should be 
achieved through societal transformation and wealth generation. 

He said for strengthening information security there has to be a focussed 
approach to intellectual property rights and major private sector initiatives 
have to be taken in this regard for ensuring a fool-proof system. Kalam 
talked of the task force set up by Planning Commission which identified core 
areas like information and communication technology, biotechnology, weather 
forecasting, disaster management and tele medicine and tele education. "These 
core technologies can be interwoven by IT and multiple technologies and 
management structures have to be integrated to form a knowledge society," he 
said. On the ocassion, government announced setting-up a Society for 
Electronic Transactions and Security (SETS) which will address the issues of 
protection, surveillance, monitoring and certification.

Notice howthe issues of "hacking", "electronic security", "national security" 
and a citizen ID card get neatly conflated even though they do not have any 
bearing on each other. I mean, if someone wanted to protect themselves 
against what is here called "hacking", what good would it to do to check on 
whether people are carrying an ID on their person in the middle of the 
street. Its a little like enforcing electronic fences around kindergartens as 
a measure to ensure that banks don't get robbed. But then, the wisdom of the 
rulers is always obscure to the ruled. Or, is it, as I suspect it to be, only 
a case of the rulers taking the advantage due to them as a result of the 
wholesale ignorance about the politics of information that is the hallmark of 
intellectual life in this society, to advance, out of a continuing confusion, 
the working blueprint of the new techno security apparatus.

What a wonderful way to commemorate the eve of the 27th anniversary of the 
delcaration of emergency in India, which was one of the occasions when we saw 
bade bhayya, or big brother, "come out" in grand style.

Meanwhile, even at the places where many of us work, we are begining to be 
asked to get used to the idea of having to produce photographic identity 
cards, to guarantee access to our own spaces. Naturally, this is being done 
in the interests of our own security. Of course, the best surveillance is 
the one that you generate on and about yourself. 

And I am getting used to a quiet electronic hum as a base soundtrack of my 
mobile phone. National security begins close to my eardrum. 

As I flew into India a few days ago, I was asked to fill in a long and 
wonderfully intricate form detailing who I was and what I did, before setting 
foot on the matri-pitri-punya bhoomi of Bharat that is India. As I did this, 
I looked out of the aircrafts window to see the splendid array of bright 
lights that mark the international border between India and Pakistan. Here 
was Fortress India, visible from the sky, and inscribed into the fine print 
of the disembarkation card, that I held in the palm of my hand. 

Did I mention paranoia, no ladies and gentlemen, not once, I am just 
whispering sweet nothings about how good it feels to be safe, secure, and 
under surveillance, how good it is to know that the international border is 
always close to where you are, that forces have been and will be deployed, 
that "the situation is tense, but under control"

I hope somebody is listening in...

how about swapping a few tales about how it feels like to know they are 
watching, listening, waiting, as the walls grow higher, inch by inch, in 
fortress India

cheers (?)
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