DailyPost 1758

Pegasus is just indicative of the world we live in, where all controls are moving out of the known legal hands to the technologist and the digital world in some form or other. The capability to impact our lives is phenomenal with we knowing nothing of the nitty gritty of it. Even the governments who are our guardians also seem to be equally at a loss. Who passes orders nobody knows, in whichever sector we talk and the world goes on. Transparency is also maintained. Accountability is also unknown. The digital tank can be bought by anybody, there might be lots of issues in buying the physical one. If we don’t accept the harsh realities of our digital existence, it would be roller coaster ride for this country for all times to come.

Is the work of the government and world to  run behind the Digital Tigers? If we could stretch our imagination a bit, we can come to the same conclusion as of the colonial age; divide and rule, which has now been transformed into digitally divide and digitally rule. No weapon has ever made so much news in the history of mankind as this digital weapon has. If this not a digital weapon, then what is it? Jamal Khashoggi’s assassination brought this digital weapon on to the world center stage of authoritarianism, state crime, diplomacy, method of sale / purchase and the digital powder keg on which the world had positioned itself.

You have a nuclear non-proliferation treaty, can we  not have something of that nature for digital weapon non-proliferation. The Indian Telegraph Act, 1885 came into being when interception of messages / voice communication would have been an engineering marvel. Now that the mobile is  a veritable storehouse of all that you know about yourself and much more, what you don’t know about yourself, which the data of all types on your phone and the connected metadata can throw up. Additionally, it opens lots of others connected to you, to risks of nature you cannot even imagine of.  All your finances are laid bare and so is your social media world. If you stripped a dozen times, what would be left of you. Can this be termed as interception of messages? From telegraph to interception of messages to taking over your mobile i.e.  your life itself, belongs to different worlds.

Do the people using these tools, mainly state actors, do it themselves or is there a third-party tech manpower or element? The capability of using these high-tech tools would not be everybody’s game and then is the nature of confidentiality around it. Can back doors not be operating for the semi digitally literate world, as far as these tools are concerned. Snooping over scores of people may be passé, but the gaping hole it leaves behind in every aspect of governance, security and life, does not seem to be getting patched anytime soon. We have created this digital mess; it would be cruel to leave it as our digital legacy. With the social media and data mess all around, is this we had bargained for!


Sanjay Sahay

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