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India launches pilot project for mass snooping in Kashmir: reports

The cybercrime cell of India’s interior ministry is piloting a programme – wherein volunteers have been asked to report to the government “unlawful” content including “anti-national activities” and “radicalization” from Jammu and Kashmir and Tripura, The Indian Express reported on Tuesday.

The programme would be “calibrated depending on feedback,” the report said.

The programme under which citizens can participate as volunteers to “identify, flag and report to the government illegal and unlawful content, including child pornography, rape, terrorism, radicalization and anti-national activities” will be piloted on a trial basis in Jammu and Kashmir and Tripura, quoting sources, the newspaper reported.

The move has raised questions over the potential misuse of the powers vested in the citizens with the Indian Express reporting that the government does not yet have any clear legal framework on what constitutes “anti-national content or activity, and often uses provisions under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA) to either detain or jail those accused of “anti-national” activities”.

Under the programme, the Indian Cyber Crime Coordination Centre will act as a nodal point while citizens can register themselves with their states or union territories to act as cyber volunteers after furnishing personal details.

As per the report, those registering as cybercrime volunteers cannot use this programme for any commercial gain or issue any public statement about their association. Volunteers are also “prohibited from using the name or claiming association” with MHA on any public platform, as per the interior ministry portal.

It said that the citizens can register as cyber awareness promoters, too, to spread information about cybercrime in “vulnerable” groups such as women, children, elderly and those residing in rural areas. 

The cybercrime division is also seeking applications on a voluntary basis from cyber experts, who can help the government with malware and memory analysis as well as cryptography.

This is apart from the already existing human intelligence and technology snooping that India employs in the disputed region to keep the pro-freedom movement under its grip.

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