Author Archives: PTLB

Narendra Modi Govt Is Arm Twisting Twitter To Do Illegal Surveillance And Censorship

Twitter Surveillance

Narendra Modi government is not pro Human Rights and this is clear with its abusive and coercive behaviour from time to time. From opposition to striking down of Section 66 A of Information Technology Act, 2000 (IT Act 2000) to unconstitutional forcing of Orwellian Aadhaar, Modi government has done everything to compromise Rule of Law, Human Rights, Fundamental Rights and Indian Constitution.

However, real bane of Modi government is blatant Internet shutdowns, giving excessive and unconstitutional e-surveillance powers to intelligence and law enforcement agencies of India, forcing surveillance and censorship upon search engines like Google and social media companies like Facebook, Twitter, etc.

These surveillance and censorship activities of Indian government would further increase with the proposed Internet Intermediary Rules 2018. But Twitter is already doing illegal censorship and surveillance at the unofficial or official requests of Indian government.

For instance, our Twitter handles named @DisasterReliefs (Unsuspended Now) and @OfficialECI have already been suspended by Twitter. Similarly, our handles named @DigitalIndiaLaw and @_CEDILRI have also been restricted (Restrictions Removed Now) by Twitter. We at Perry4Law Techno Legal Base (PTLB) have already asked Twitter to provide us with the details and information on the basis of which Twitter has taken these illegal decisions.

So far we have not received any response from Twitter but we would pursue the case till logical conclusion. We are also aware that Supreme Court of India has deliberately removed victim’s right to approach an Internet Intermediary. According to Praveen DalalSupreme Court’s Judgment on Section 66A is a big blow for Cyber Law Due Diligence in India and reading down of Section 79(3) (b) and Rule 3(4) by Supreme Court in the present manner is “Counter Productive” in long run. He had also suggested that Modi Government must urgently bring suitable Amendments in the IT Act 2000 to tackle growing Cyber Threats and Cyber Crimes in India.

We have already devised a techno legal strategy to deal with companies like Google, Facebook, Twitter, etc if they fail to respect Human Rights in Cyberspace. Further, we have also launched an online platform that can be used by national and international stakeholders if companies like Google, Facebook, Twitter, etc are violating their rights in any jurisdiction of the world.

Updates

(1) The Gag Order: We asked Twitter to give reason for suspension of our @OfficialECI account and Twitter gave a very vague reason of impersonation. We have been asking Twitter about how Twitter reached that conclusion, even before the account was attacked by it earlier. In particular, we are asking Twitter ti inform us about any complaint or other material on the basis of which it has formed the arbitrary and unilateral opinion to suspend our account.

But Twitter is not disclosing any information at all despite many reminders. Twitter is behaving very strangely as if it is under a “Gag Order” from Indian government or any Indian authority/court.

Gag Order

Is Twitter Under A Gag Order By Indian Govt Or Indian Court Asking It To Suspend @OfficialECI Account Without Any Reason Or Justification Asks @Praveen_Dalal?

(2) No Reason Given: Despite asking specifically for reasons and grounds for suspending our @OfficialECI account many times, Twitter has not given the same. An account can be suspended by Twitter either on its own or on the complaint of third party. We have asked twitter to share material and data on the basis of which it has formed its opinion and decision to suspend our account. So far Twitter has not mentioned about any complaint that may allow it to form an opinion.

No Reason

Can Twitter Unilaterally Suspend An Account Without Any Reason Or Complaint? So Far Twitter Has Neither Shared Any Valid And Legally Sustainable Reason Nor Details Of Any Complaint Informs @Praveen_Dalal.

(3) Twitter’s Response On 07-01-2019: This is the response of Twitter that we received on 07-01-2019 regarding our appeal against the suspension of our @OfficialECI account: 

“Hello,

It has come to our attention that your Twitter account is in violation of the Twitter Rules, specifically the policy on Impersonation:  https://support.twitter.com/articles/18366-impersonation-policy

Impersonation is pretending to be another entity in order to deceive, and is strictly prohibited. This account has been suspended and will not be restored.

Thanks,

Twitter”

Twitter Impersonation Policy

We analysed the link provided by Twitter and found the following information:

An account will not be removed if:

(1) The user shares your name but has no other commonalities, or

(2) The profile clearly states it is not affiliated with or connected to any similarly-named individuals.

Accounts with similar usernames or that are similar in appearance (e.g. the same avatar image) are not automatically in violation of the impersonation policy. In order to be impersonation, the account must also portray another person in a misleading or deceptive manner.

This is what @OfficialECI is openly declaring to world at large:

OfficialECI Impersonation

This is what @OfficialECI has tweeted and is now the pinned tweet:

Pinned Tweet Official ECI

This is the logo we are using:

Logo Of Official ECI

 So the @OfficialECI has following unique features:

(1) We are not sharing the name of any person or organisation, and

(2) The profile clearly states it is not affiliated with or connected to Election Commission of India (ECI) in any manner whatsoever, and

(3) Our account is neither similar to any other username nor it has a similar appearance of any other logo or avatar image. We are also not using any government or organisation related image or logo, and

(4) We are not portraying any person or organisation in a misleading or deceptive manner, and

(5) We asked Election Commission of India (ECI) to manage the account and were willing to transfer the same. ECI did not show any interest and now we would manage the account.

Now it is for Twitter to explain the following regarding @OfficialECI:

(1) Which user or organisation @OfficialECI is impersonating, and

(2) How @OfficialECI is impersonating an “Imaginary Organisation/Fictional User” that has not filed any complaint.

We Are Managing The @OfficialECI Account With Utmost Good Faith And Absolute Fairness But @Twitter Is Acting In A Malafide Manner And Has No Justification At All For Suspending OfficialECI Account Says @Praveen_Dalal.

(4) Update On 20-01-2019: Twitter continues with its “Impersonation” excuse to justify the suspension of @OfficialECI handle. Despite so many requests and support tickets, Twitter is not giving any detail about either the account/individual/organisation claimed to be impersonated or details about any official complaint from such account/individual/organisation. This is serious violation of not only Twitter’s own policies but also the laws of India and other jurisdictions.

When data, info and details are given to Twitter to open an account they are given subject to the condition that the account would comply with Twitter’s terms and in case the account is complying with its terms, it shall be allowed to be operated uninterrupted and without any manipulation on the part of Twitter.

It is also implied that if Twitter suspends any account, the account holder is entitled to demand information and details about such suspension. Merely claiming that an account has been suspended for xyz reason is not sufficient if on the face of it such suspension is mala fide and based on extraneous considerations. So far Twitter has not provided details about any complaint on the basis of which @OfficialECI has been suspended.

There is no justification for Twitter at all to suspend @OfficialECI account as has been proved by us in update (3) above.

(5)

Internet And Social Media Surveillance And Censorship Would Increase In India Now

Internet Surveillance

Slowly and steadily Indian government has been able to compromise Rule of Law, Fundamental Rights and Human Rights in India. Unfortunately, Supreme Court of India helped Indian government in its quest to destroy Human Rights in Cyberspace.

First it allowed unconstitutional provisions under Indian Telegraph Act, Information Technology Act, 2000, etc to continue despite they being clearly violative of Indian Constitution. Then it allowed Orwellian Aadhaar to continue and allowed further to use it for limited purpose of subsidy seeking by Indians. Of course, some brakes were put by Supreme Court in Aadhaar judgment on unconstitutional and unregulated surveillance capacity of Indian government and its agencies.

But as expected, Indian government was not deterred from that limitation. It went overboard and authorised 10 intelligence and law enforcement agencies in a single notification to engage in illegal and unconstitutional e-surveillance and snooping upon law abiding citizens. This is despite the fact this this is violation of right to privacy as decided by a 9 judge bench of Supreme Court.

Keeping in mind the surveillance friendly nature of Indian Supreme Court, even this unconstitutional surveillance act of Indian government may go unnoticed and unopposed. But despite Supreme Court’s failure to protect our Human Rights, we at India’s exclusive Centre of Excellence for Protection of Human Rights in Cyberspace (CEPHRC) are committed to fight against government’s surveillance, snooping, spying and privacy violating activities.

Very few of national and international stakeholders are aware that we are also managing a blog that is discussing surveillance and censorship issues of Internet and Social Media in India. It remained dormant for sometime like our other blogs but now is the right time to update it on regular basis.

Meanwhile, we have launched an online portal that is allowing stakeholders to report cyber law, cyber security, privacy and data protection breaches In India and other jurisdictions. If you come across any surveillance or privacy violation activity of Indian government or its agencies, create a ticket and we would pursue the same free of cost. Even if Supreme Court is not rendering justice to Indians, we at Perry4Law Techno Legal Base (PTLB) would not let you down.

Google Is Tampering With Timestamp Of Digital India Related Dissenting News

Google Is Tampering With Timestamp Of Digital India Related Dissenting NewsGoogle has been censoring news in India in one form or another for long. Most of the times it is the critical news that challenges the policies and decisions of Indian government that are censored by Google. Digital India is one such policy initiatives of Indian government that is not at all tolerant to dissenting, critical and opposite views.

Initially Twitter started censoring Digital India related critical tweets and it is still doing the same. However, that was not enough and now Google has joined this censorship nuisance.

In a bizarre incidence, Google has manipulated timestamp of Digital India related dissenting news to remove it from latest news search results. The idea is to make the impact of the news minimum. A post of similar nature has already been censored by Google from its organic search results.

This is surprising as a government possessing the blind support of print and digital media has to resort to such negative tactics is really embarrassing. Even Google has failed to protect civil liberties in cyberspace as it has unreasonably curbed the speech and expression rights of the sole voice questioning the negative aspects of Digital India project.

Both Google and Indian government have forgotten that Internet or cyberspace cannot be regulated in this manner. If one thing is censored another would turn up with a different name and location. This post is the testimony of this position and we hope good sense would prevail over Google and Indian government in this regard.

Google Censored Organ Transplantation Mafia News

Google Censored Organ Transplantation Mafia NewsIn a gruesome incidence, the parents of a girl child claim that she was murdered for harvesting her organs.

An appeal to the Indian government has also been made to investigate into the matter.

Surprisingly our mainstream media did not cover the news. The only coverage can be found in the form of a news report here.

Unfortunately, this single news report has been censored and deleted by Google form its news sources.

It is really unfortunate and a miscarriage of justice for the parent of the deceased girl. Till the time of writing this post, we did not receive any response or assurance from Indian government.

Is Google Playing Stupid Or Is IT Actually Stupid?

Is Google Playing Stupid Or Is IT Actually StupidGoogle is engaging in unreasonable manual action penalty and censorship of blogs in India and abroad. There are many blogs that have been censored by Google to further its own commercial interests with active disregard to civil liberties and freedom of speech and expression.

For instance, the following blogs have been demoted and subjected to manual action penalty by Google without any reason and justification:

(1) Cyber Forensics In India

(2) Cyber Security In India

(3) E-Discovery Services In India

(4) E-Commerce Laws And Regulations In India

(5) Perry4Law Techno Legal Base (PTLB)

(6) Corporate Laws In India

(7) Techno Legal Online Dispute Resolution Services, etc.

Of late, Google has started playing ignorant and stupid while handing DMCA complaints. Google is removing the contents of copyright holders and DMCA notice sender instead of the infringer’s posts/search results.

There are many reasons for censoring and manipulation of SERPS, news and blog results by Google.  Further, there are methods that Google uses to filter, manipulate and censor contents.

Google has once against played stupid despite many communications from our side that clearly mentioned about the original source of copyrighted article and copyright infringing material.

Google has once again removed the original and copyrighted article instead of removing the copyright infringing material. Our article titled “Cyber Security Capabilities of India Must be Strengthened” has been first shifted to draft folder and then deleted by ignorant employees of Google.

It is high time for Google to stop these negative tactics that its employees are openly engaging in and do the needful as required by DMCA law and other applicable laws.

Cyber Security Related Blogs And News Censored By Google

Cyber Security Related Blogs And News Censored By GoogleGoogle has once again demoted and censored many blogs in India. The chief among them are Cyber Forensics in India, Cyber Security in India, E-Discovery Services In India, E-Commerce Laws And Regulations In India, Perry4Law Techno Legal Base (PTLB), Corporate Laws In India, Techno Legal Online Dispute Resolution Services, LPO and KPO in India, etc.

This is not the first time that Google has done so. According to media reports, Google is engaging in illegal blogs and news censorship in India. There are many news that has been censored by Google from time to time. The latest to add to this list is the news article titled “Cyber security in India is needed”.

For some strange reasons blogs and news pertaining to cyber security and cyber forensics have been openly censored by Google. The reason for the same is still unknown but Google is definitely aware of what is happening in its house.

This episode also gives rise to a question-is Google manipulating and abusing its dominant position and is engaging in unfair trade practices? Perhaps the competition commission of India and federal trade commission of US must initiate an investigation into this practice of Google.

Google Censored and Demoted More Blogs In India

Google Censored and Demoted More Blogs In IndiaIt seems the affairs of Google are well beyond its control. From news censorship to blog censorship, Google has been doing it all. Initially it used to be a piecemeal work but now Google has been indulging in mass censorship and mass demotion of blogs.

Manual action penalty by Google is in abundance these days. However, what is surprising is the fact that Google is indulging in illegal and wrong manual action penalty and blogs and news censorship.

Even worst is the aspect that Google never discloses the reason for such censorship and manual penalty. The aggrieved person has no remedy to agitate against the wrong doings of Google.

The following websites have been demoted and subjected to manual action penalty by Google without any reason and justification:

(1) Cyber Forensics In India

(2) Cyber Security In India

(3) E-Discovery Services In India

(4) E-Commerce Laws And Regulations In India

(5) Perry4Law Techno Legal Base (PTLB)

(6) Corporate Laws In India

(7) Techno Legal Online Dispute Resolution Services

The list is just illustrative and we are investigating the issue. We would come up with more details in this regard very soon.

Google Censored Another News In India

Google Censored Another News In IndiaPower companies in Delhi are openly engaging in excessive and exorbitant electricity bills charging that is not legally due to their customers. In the past, Tata Power Delhi Distribution Ltd (TPDDL) was punished by DERC for similar reasons.

This illegal money making exercise of power companies of Delhi is happening with active support of Delhi government that has not taken any action against the defaulting companies despite many complaints and protests.

Even the assurances of Delhi’s chief minister Sheila Dikshit proved nothing more than lip service. However, if this was not enough Google has been censoring news pointing towards such corrupt practices happening in open in Delhi.

Google has censored the news titled “Power Companies Defying Delhi Chief Minister’s Directions” at the instance of some of the power companies who do not wish to be exposed. Even the hand of Delhi government in it cannot be ruled out. This censorship exercise is not only wrong but is clearly illegal on the part of Google as it has not provided any intimation or/and option to counter false claims of such power companies.

Google has been censoring news in India for long and we believe it is high time to send a notice to them and ask for proper explanation in this regard. This is so because if Google is following Indian laws then it has to comply with the same for all purposes. On the other hand, if Google is following US laws then there is an obligation on its part to provide an opportunity to the aggrieved party to represent his/her/its case.

The unilateral action of censorship on the part of Google is therefore clearly illegal and needs to be checked legally. We are working in this direction and would update our viewers very soon.

Google Continues To Censor News In India

Google Continues To Censor News In IndiaGoogle has been engaging in censorship and filtering of results in India for long. This includes censorship and filtering of blog posts, news, robots restrictions, etc. The latest to add to this list is the news article titled “Radia Tapes, Ratan Tata’s Privacy, Fundamental Rights and Public Interest” that has been censored on 05-09-2012.

The news article in question has nothing controversial but it is discussing about some of the most corruption related aspects of India. Perhaps, the article has brought out in public the dirty linen of Indian government but the censorship act of Google has also brought Google’s dirty linen in public as well.

It seems Indian government is not interested in putting the truth before the public at large. First it claimed that it has destroyed the Radia tapes and then it claimed that the investigation is still going on so the tapes are required to be kept in safe custody.

However, the Indian government has still not told the Supreme Court of India who leaked the tapes. It seems public interest is not important and all the Indian government is doing is hiding of the dirty facts and truths of Radia tapes controversy.

As opined by Praveen Dalal, managing partner of ICT law firm Perry4Law, “The Indian Constitutional Scheme is based upon “Balance of Rights” and no right is absolute in nature. In case of conflict between two Fundamental Rights, the Fundamental Right that strengthens and substantiate the Public Interest should prevail”. Hence if there is a conflict between Right to Privacy and Right to Information/know, information can be disclosed in certain circumstances to substantiate and strengthen Public Interest, opines Dalal.

It is high time for Indian government to disclose who leaked the Radia tapes. Similarly, the Supreme Court of India must also keep in mind the balance of fundamental rights as citizens of India have a right to know about the corrupt practices happening within the governmental functioning.

Censorship By Google Using Hidden Robots Text File Restrictions

Censorship By Google Using Hidden Robots Text File Restrictions There are various methods through which Google censors and manipulates SERPs, news, blogs and other results. Google rely heavily upon the “crawling methodology” to produce results as per its own requirements. Google may create a 503 error or other such error. However, such an error is apparent if you analyse the webmaster tool.

It seems Google has developed another innovative method of censorship of posts that it finds controversial. Google seems to be manipulating the robots text file (robots. txt) to block even those posts and segments that are not, by design, supposed to be blocked.

The worst part is that it is done in a clandestine manner and you cannot do much even if you thoroughly analyse the webmaster tool.  Today I spend an entire day to understand why the post titled “cyber forensics and Indian approach” was censored by Google.

I analysed the webmaster tool and found the message telling me that the “health” of the blog titled Cyber Forensics in India is not in good shape. The exact message reads “Severe health issues are found on your site – Check site health”. Upon further analysing the problem, the webmaster tool told that “some important page is blocked by robots.txt”.

I first analysed the message that reads “Is robots.txt blocking important pages?” and it returned the message that reads “The page you are trying to reach does not exist (404)”. I then tried to analyse the important page that has been blocked by the robots.txt file and it gave me this page.

Before proceeding further, let us check the standard robots.txt file of Blogspot blogs. The standard robots.txt file in case of the present blog (and all other Blogspot blogs as it is similar except the blog address) is as follows:

User-agent: Mediapartners-Google
Disallow:

User-agent: *
Disallow: /search
Allow: /

http://cyberforensicsofindia.blogspot.com/feeds/posts/default?orderby=UPDATED

It is clear that the only thing that has been disallowed by the Blogspot robots.txt file is the /search directory and its sub folders. All other directories and their sub folders are crawlable and accessible to not only Google’s bots but also crawling bots of other search engines as well.

Now when we clicked upon the important page that has been blocked by robots.txt file of our Blog, it took us here. Now this is absurd on at least two counts. Firstly, this is bound to be blocked due to the blocking of search directory so there is nothing unnatural as such. This cannot be termed as a “serious health issue” for the blog.

Secondly, there is no entry or record of the post that has been censored by Google at all. There is no error, either crawling or indexing. There are no malware issues. There are no pages removal issues involved as well.

Clearly, whatever happened to that post happened at the level of Google and Google owes an explanation to us in this regard. We are aware that we are not facing this issue alone and there are tons of examples where these issues have arisen and resolved at Google.

However, we saw no reason for the blocking, filtering, censorship or deindexing of our post. It is time for Google to explain.