As India, we need to grow some serious balls. As the world’s largest democracy, it is high time we lived up to the promise of democracy: freedom of speech and expression. And the right to privacy. It is a fundamental right for which our forefathers have fought hard. For inspiration, we must look to tiny Hong Kong, which flipped off the United States of America to defend the rights of its citizen and even allowed Edward Snowden to pass through.
Hong Kong government’s response to the United States’ demand to extradite former defense contractor Edward Snowden is an very bold step. They not only refused to extradite Snowden charged with espionage in the US, but also defended its rights to let him leave the country to Russia.
And the kicker? Hong Kong sent a clear signal across that it doesn’t appreciate United States government agencies hacking computers in Hong Kong.
It’s worrying, as Indian citizen, to see our politicians play down the entire issue while parliamentarians in Europe and other parts of the world simmer with rage at this apparent American intrusion of privacy of their citizen. As Julian Assange pointed out earlier, thanks to Snowden, we know that we are being spied upon.
As usual, India has chosen to be mum on asylum requests by wikileaks founder Julian Assange. And its reasonable to believe that it will do the same when it comes to Snowden. Well, so be it. We don’t want to break a long standing tradition of being a bunch of fence sitters, do we?
However, we must at least come out with privacy laws that protect our rights against foreign and internal surveillance. We must also bring transparency to our own government’s surveillance programs by bringing it under the purview of Right to Information act and public scrutiny.
When foreign minister Salman Khurshid and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh meet US Secretary of State John Kerry today, India must not only talk about immigration reforms, Pakistan or nuclear supplies for civil use. In the light of recent revelations that the American Government’s intelligence software has gathered massive amounts of data on Indian citizen, cyber security and privacy of Indian citizen must be part of the agenda.