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When you speak truth to power, you inspire others to stand by you. When you fabricate lies and engineer perceptions for profit, they come back to bite you.

It began with an innocent reply of a gullible Modi supporter who thought to assert Modi's honor with a claim that is popularly doing the rounds. That Assange had called Modi INCORRUPTIBLE. Is Assange corrupt? Well, Assange may not be corrupt, but the person who told you he said that could be, yes?

Wikileaks burst Modi's claim of incorruptible
Wikileaks burst Modi's claim of incorruptible

But then this was hardly news. Even when Modi made the claims of "America and Wikileaks declaring after their investigations that Modi was incorruptible... not just not corrupt, but incorruptible" there were news reports of this absurd interview even at that time that pointed out the utter inaccuracy of his claim.

The cables simply reported the beliefs of politicians (in this case Congress) the Ambassador interacted with and no investigations or comparisons. They were neither the opinion of United States of America nor Wikileaks. But facts are never a strong suit of the serial faker rising to fame faster as "Feku" than any of his many titles. Every public appearance brings embarrassment over some or the other lie he peddles - be it history or geography or economy or... an endorsement his party now claims he doesn't need. If he chose to present a cable reporting perceptions of him in India as a true endorsement of him by the United States or Wikileaks, here was an entire bevy of media to merely report what he said. Not for the hridaysamarat (Emperor of Hearts) would be the "well researched" exposes by a pliant media (read open browser, read cable out to camera, tell people how to verify).

Modi's official website flaunts the lies with pride.

Modi's claims about Wikipedia and the US on his official website
‘On one side it is being said, ‘Indian government is completely corrupt’. Then there are reports by America and WikiLeaks, which refer to the state of Gujarat where the leader is un-corruptible,’ ~ Modi's official website

Gujarat Assembly Elections came and went without these lies contested.

 We actually had news media publishing his claims with the contradicting quote of the cable (with link to original NEVER provided for viewer to check). As if the cable contradicting Modi was not an issue that needed clarification or confrontation.

And yet all it took to shred the pretence was one tweet from Wikileaks when they saw the credibility that was being claimed in their name and in the name of Assange. And all of a sudden, Indian media is pretending it just noticed this. Right.

So anyway, yours truly had an inadvertent role to play in this. There is a site called Fek le! which I started after getting fed up of the disinformation provided by the Narendra Modi brigade. It is a fake news site, which uses as "authentic sources" only satire websites, comedy shows, BJP's disinformation products and anyone else acting too ridiculous to take seriously. Routinely BJP supporters come up with some ridiculous propaganda, I take the juciest (or most harmful) and report it with further fabrications and exaggerations on the satire site as entirely true with the tag "BJP Photoshop Laghu Udyog" - which can be a security service, research organization or whatever the tall claim would qualify them as. When pictures of Julian Assange endorsing Modi in Hindi started circulating, it was too good to pass, and of course Fek Le! reported them.

Turns out brains rotted by brainwashing have real poor comprehension skills, because that fake post got BELIEVED by some Namo supporting website and republished in their news round up or something. It is an occasional side effect of satire sites to get picked up by news websites with lazy staff, but this was unbelievable. Julian Assange speaking in Hindi out of loyalty to Narendra Modi, saying that America is scared of Narendra Modi and tagged with "BJP Photoshop Laghu Udyog" AND on a site called Fek Le! I mean how gullible, can anyone be? Plenty, as it turns out.

The fake photo from my site (probably, or the original, where I got it from on Twitter) started circulating again along with its versions I hadn't seen, but were existing all through to the point Wikileaks set the record straight.

I logged in late last night to discover that everyone was tagging me with Wikileaks handle that had minced no words in denying the tall tales or "feks". I was thrilled, only to discover that Wikileaks had linked to the photo on my website. And I set the record straight. Fek Le! only reproduces disinformation already in circulation and all the images and videos on it (so far) have been made by someone else. Usually the people getting "idolized" in the article. The site combats disinformation by exaggerating it, and making it ridiculously obvious and the occasional sprinkling of "news sources" and "documentary films" from satire websties or comedy shows.

But feels great to have contributed a long overdue journalistic and political confrontation .... and all because of a satire website tracking political disinformation. I do hope that this will help bring down some of the false propaganda in time for this elections.

2

Statement by Tarun Tejpal

If conclusive proof was needed of the political vendetta that has been unleashed against me, under the guise of a sexual molestation investigation, it has been emphatically provided today. In a blatant attempt at twisting and concealing the facts, the Goa police while filing a 3000 page highly spurious charge sheet, has not presented or handed over the most crucial piece of evidence in this case, the CCTV footage of the incident

In my first and only press note of November 22nd 2013 I had urged, "the police to obtain, examine and release the CCTV footage so that the accurate version of events stands clearly revealed". I said this at a time, from Delhi, when I had neither accessed nor seen the footage. But since I was the man on the spot I knew the truth of what had happened.

It is violative of due process, to not make all collected evidence available to the accused at the time of filing the charge sheet. In fact, receipt of the footage is what we have been impatiently waiting for since the last three months. This duplicity is in keeping with the sinister and motivated political vendetta that is being pursued.

I have been in jail since November 30th simply because the goa police, clearly acting under the orders of their political bosses, have refused to release this crucial footage of the relevant days, 7th and 8th November. This entire case hinges on the 130 and 45 seconds (as per the charge sheet) of contested time which can be brought to light via the CCTV footage. The goa police know their fabricated case will collapse the moment the footage is revealed and compared with the 'testimony' of the alleged victim, on the basis of which the Goa police filed it's FIR under draconian provisions.

As it were, I viewed the relevant footage of both days whilst being 'held' in police custody and the footage clearly validates me. The fact is most of the officers in the crime branch know there is no case, and have said as much to me. Even so the IO has been pursuing an agenda spelt out for her by her political masters, totally violating the principle of police neutrality.

I'm afraid what we are witnessing here is an early sign of the inherent fascism of the right wing that will target its detractors in the most sinister and underhand ways, using all the government machinery at its disposal. This is a warning shot across the bows of all liberals and opponents of communal politics. It's a crying shame that a major party that is bidding to rule the great pluralism that is India is imbued with no tolerance of dissenters and critics, of whom I certainly am one.

1

Dear Dr. Harshavardhan,

Congratulations on becoming the candidate for Chief Minister for Delhi. I am not very aware of your career, but am assured by several people that you were chosen because of your spotless record with regard to corruption. This, in itself is quite remarkable in India, and you should be justifiably proud.

I had never thought I'd have to ask this, but in the interest of citizens knowing what they vote for, these questions become important.

I would like you to answer these questions:

  1. Do you believe women of Delhi are independent citizens in their own right with the fundamental rights and freedoms and protections from law that are due to any citizen of India (with the possible exception of women in Gujarat since it seems a bit disputed at the moment)? And that fundamental rights cannot be overruled by another person just because they would like to?
  2. Will you agree, if elected to obey the law and to not misuse authority vested in you by the people for personal ends and against the people, particularly in activities illegal under current laws?
  3. Do you believe that it is possible for a third person to know that a person is being harassed while the victim voluntarily seeks the company of the supposed harasser? And if so, do you believe that the appropriate action is to not file a police complaint, but to approach you for some off the record "protection"?
  4. Do you believe that parents have the right to use personal connections and off the record Chief Minister and police services to find out information about their adult independent citizen children without their informed consent - information that the adult independent citizen children may not voluntarily give them? (whether someone is in their hotel room at 11pm, for example)
  5. Do you believe that a consensual relationship between adults can be termed as harassment and intervened off the record by the state if the parents of one or more people involved in it don't like it?
  6. Do you believe that a Chief Minister is obliged to violate the rights of citizens if requested by a personal friend or relative or business contact or any other non-authority?

Additionally, it would be nice if you stated your views on surveillance.

I understand that the questions are rather offensive and amount to a questioning of your character and integrity, when you have been chosen specifically for those; and I regret that this is so. However the current BJP stand on some alarming revelations on illegal surveillance makes these questions necessary as it appears that there is a misunderstanding on what an accountable state is and what citizen rights are. I am sure you will agree that it is important that citizens knowingly vote for a Chief Minister whose views on their rights is acceptable to them.

I understand that the questions may seem a little repetitive with very minor differences, but I request you to indulge the paranoia of a woman seriously rattled by the prospect that the freedoms she believed she had may not be present in the eyes of the state at all. For someone like me, my parents coming to know everything I do would likely be very offensive and not entirely good for my parent's health either, though they may be foolish enough to want it, if they came across a willing Chief Minister.

Urgent replies will be appreciated, as there isn't much time for the polls.

Sincerely,

An extremely alarmed citizen.

(This post has been written by Vidyut on behalf of a Delhi citizen who would rather not be named, but wants to know these answers)

Long overdue news. Wikileaks, which had gotten targeted in many ways by the US government over its exposes of war crimes was literally being starved of funds by the refusal of credit card companies to process donations to them. This Press Release from them is very good news. Strike one for whistleblowers!

In a case against Valitor, formerly VISA Iceland, Reykjavík District Court just ruled the company had violated contract laws by blocking credit card donations to Wikileaks. After WikiLeaks' publications revealing U.S. war crimes and statecraft in 2010, U.S. financial institutions, including VISA, MasterCard, Bank of America, erected a banking blockade against WikiLeaks wholly outside of any judicial or administrative process. The blockade stripped away over 95% of donations from supporters of WikiLeaks, costing the organization in excess of USD 20M.

The court ruled that the donation gateway should be reopened within 14 days otherwise Valitor will be penalized with a fine of 800 000 ISK daily. WikiLeaks is persuing several actions against the blockade and a European Commission preliminary investigation into the blockade was started last July. A Commission decision on whether to pursue the financial services companies involved in the blockade is expected before the end of August.

WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, said "This is a significant victory against Washington's attempt to silence WikiLeaks. We will not be silenced. Economic censorship is censorship. It is wrong. When it's done outside of the rule of law its doubly wrong. One by one those involved in the attempted censorship of WikiLeaks will find themselves on the wrong side of history."

I had said when the persecution of Wikileaks began that India was walking down the wrong path. How i had hoped that mine could be the country to offer Assange asylum. At least with this news, other, more ethical countries may take the chance...

14

As the scams started coming out of the woodwork, so did the government's desire to limit the travel of information. To governments worldwide, bloated in their sense of impunity, the internet was a devastating blow. Castles of fakery started to crumble and governments waged a relentless war on their own people.

It is easy in a country like India, where the common man is largely servile when it comes to powerful people, and the low penetration of the internet in the country guarantees that this number is not significant... yet.

In the last few years, the government has waged a steady war on its internetizens. This war has been on many fronts and in insidious ways that never rang true.

  • There are seven alphabet soup agencies (RAW, CID, MI, etc) who can intercept the phonecalls, SMSs and emails of citizens without any proof of guilt or warrant required. This was quietly pushed in from the periphery in the shadow of 26/11 when it was easy to sell anything in the name of anti-terror initiatives. You cannot expect a terrorist to actually be sending emails that can be picked up saying "oh, I'm going to bomb this place on such a date". Indeed, so far, the only internet related investigations - at least publicly have been those of people who emailed claims of attacks. It has been over two years since this power was with our agencies, but there is no particular intelligence in evidence.
  • We have the government making requests to various websites to take down content. It is unclear what laws are used in this situation, since only a part of them are court orders. Interestingly, these were promoted with a false religious harmony excuse while a majority of the content for removal was political in nature. In our country with its bloody history of religious disharmony, we haven't got any dead people from religious offences on the internet so far. Strange that religious fundamentalist organizations are not meddled with to curb religious extremism, but the internet is.
  • Then came Sibal's utterly outrageous demand for prescreening, which got laughed out of front pages of all but the most loyal newspapers. He quickly withdrew it realizing that he had made an ass of himself, but surprisingly, a journalist had problems with the kind of content he wanted censored, so the court gave an order asking for exactly that.
  • We have the IT Rules, which are really strange in that they allow anyone to govern anyone. In a bizarre way, it makes sense, since the government is not doing governance anyway. The IT Rules are probably the only ones where the enforcement of law does not require any government or judicial interaction whatsoever. Much has been said of the harm from such rules, so I will not repeat it here, but it should be interesting to realize that there is absolutely no way to monitor the use of these rules. No way to know what and how much content has been taken down by using them. This is no coincidence. The government doesn't want us to know how heavily we are being censored.
  • Protection of Intellectual Property is going to such extents that a court order from the Madras High Court led to a nationwide ban on content sharing sites - the ones that hadn't gone to the "meetings" with our government. Youtube can pirate - no problem, because Google is entertaining content takedown notices routinely - the objective is the control, not the piracy. Sites that can't be controlled are delegitimized. The High Court clarified that it did not mean entire websites should be blocked, which was no surprise. Still, vimeo.com is not working for me - blocked - MTNL Mumbai 3G. There are three further questions about this.
    • Does a High Court have nationwide jurisdiction at all? In the sense of ISPs in Mumbai blocking content because of an order from Madras High Court - I don't know. I used to think that High Courts were regional, but I may be mistaken.
    • Why should the cost of safeguarding the property of those who own it be foisted on those who don't earn from it? If an illegal url has been notified and still not removed, it makes sense to hold the site responsible, but why should the considerable manpower and expense of monitoring content on a public medium be the cost and responsibility of those not earning from it? The point is coercing large sties into interfacing with the government or being banned.
    • Where did the list of urls to block materialize from? Who made that list? The court order makes no mention. Whose interests were served with these strong arm tactics?
  • And then there is the entire "class apart" with the jailed cartoonist in West Bengal, and protesters for internet freedom being harassed by police, their personal information recorded, intimidation, illegal photographing in spite of their refusal.... treated like criminals, even though the right to protest is present in theory.

And the net is tightening. There are no signs of relenting. As we speak, the Indian government has made a proposal in the UN for government control over the internet. It is not only on the internet, all kinds of citizens are being labeled enemies of the state.

Take for example the extreme irony of Kudankulam protesters being accused of foreign interests for opposing the government on a Russian reactor. No proofs needed. Simple declarations are enough. A similar declaration had started the free for all on Maoists that led to government formed militia that they no longer are able to control along with the original problem. It is not rocket science to realize where the question of control on the internet is headed.

After every terrorist attack, there are tales of incompetence. Intelligence received was not used. No matter how much the rights of people are eroded, this cannot be fixed without actually doing jobs. And the government simply lacks the will or ability to do anything about it. Instead of developing the ability, there is a pretense of being capable by bullying people into increasingly tight prisons.

  • We do not manufacture any of the computers and most softwares we use. In other words, we have no clue as to what we are trusting by default.
  • Government sites are primitive at best. Ignorance is blatantly evident in the lack of ToS on the site of Kapil Sibal - the guy who made it mandatory for sites to have ToS.  There is little comprehension of how the laws translate into reality.
  • China recently hacked into US servers and identified as our Military Intelligence. Apart from the security issues for both US and India, this also is an international relations risk. Censorship will not fix this.
  • Recently, there is the question of a foreign firm being hired at extra cost to handle cyber security for India. So let us get this straight. Foreign nationals will handle cyber security for India, and the elected government will pretend to know enough to legislate it. What does this mean, exactly beyond creating some handly legislation to apply at will if needed?

The problem of censorship is not really a problem in terms of citizens freedoms, in my view. Like the government has no resources or coherent plan to monitor underage drinking, it has no coherent way of monitoring the magnitude of content on the internet. Such laws are grey areas no one applies, unless you want to attack someone and need to throw the book at them.

This, in my view is less dangerous to individuals than it is for the country, where its laws are rendered into incoherent tools for enforcing the will of the government rather than the constitution  of the country. This kind of arbitrary law making devalues the legal system itself and erodes its legitimacy.

As for the religious offenses, it is only people who want to get offended that fixate on the offensive. Normal people simply avoid what they don't like. This isn't like TV, where content is linear or limited in choice. As for the terrorists, they have their codes and secure methods of communication right under the noses of the clueless people now wasting time spying on all kinds of people because they can rather than developing more targeted methods to crackdown on exactly the ones that need caught. As for citizens who want privacy, they use TOR, https, fake identities and other anonymizing methods and will possibly be far more damaging while safe in their anonymity and reckless in their outrage than they would with real identities.

As for the enemies of the state, the real enemies of the state are sitting in the Parliament, brazenly ignoring real issues for opportunistic exploitation and facades of "doing something".

Note: I make no distinction between the ruling party and the opposition unless they have vocally opposed and prevented rights from being violated.