How Indian Narendra Modi is using technology to reduce human rights


This week, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi will deliver a keynote address to the Australian Strategic Policy Institute’s Sydney Dialogue, alongside Prime Minister Scott Morrison. The dialogue is heralded as a “world first” summit for emerging, critical and cyber technologies “.

Australia is deepening trade and investment links with India and technology has emerged as a key element in their growth bilateral Other multilateral cooperation. Modi will describe how the Indian tech industry is solving global problems.

His administration called his flagship program Digital India – transform India into an enhanced digital economy with an emphasis on better provision of government services – as one of the largest in India success stories.

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi has been accused of undermining democracy.

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi was accused of undermining democracy.Credit:Getty

However, what the public will not hear is how the Modi government has used technology since it came to power in 2014 to reduce rights in the home as part of a growing crackdown on freedom of expression, association and peaceful assembly.

Even as his government promotes a more digitally connected India, it is shuts down the Internet more than any other country around the world, increasingly to silence peaceful protests and criticism of the government. This has not only denied millions of people their fundamental rights, but has also affected businesses and cost the Indian economy. billions of dollars in losses.

As part of its playbook to crack down on dissent and gain greater control over online content, the Hindu nationalist government led by Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has enacted new internet rules targeting social media companies, digital news services and curated video streaming sites that are most likely to have global consequences. thesis the rules include excessive restrictions on content, encourage self-censorship and require the traceability of information that compromise end-to-end encryption on platforms such as WhatsApp or Signal.

Protesters in New Delhi accuse Prime Minister Narendra Modi's government of using military-grade spyware to monitor political opponents, journalists and activists.

Protesters in New Delhi accuse Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government of using military-grade spyware to monitor political opponents, journalists and activists. Credit:AP

The rules also require social media companies with over 5 million registered users in India, which means virtually all major internet companies, to appoint staff in the country. With more employees living in India, where they could face criminal liability and prosecution, businesses will also find it difficult to resist arbitrary and disproportionate government orders to remove content or hand over user data.

In February, even before the rules came into effect, the government threatened to punish India-based Twitter employees with fines and prison sentences after Twitter closed some, but not all, accounts ordered by the Indian authorities, which were critical of the government’s handling of the farmers’ protests.


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