NSA Crisis - A PR strategy for Government of India

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A PR strategy for Government of India on tackling the NSA snooping.

A PR strategy for Government of India on tackling the NSA snooping.

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  • 1. Content • • • • • • • • • • • • • The Crisis Bare facts about NSA The Sources What is the issue? Indian Embassies Snooped! The Stake-holders Government of India‟s Stand Role of Media NSA‟s Statement Some contradictory statements What the GoI can do What the GoI could do (PR perspective) PR Insights
  • 2. The Crisis National Security Agency‟s (NSA) surveillance on Indian Government and Indian Embassies in the United States.
  • 3. Bare facts about NSA • National Security Agency was earlier known as the Armed Forces Security Agency, created on May 20, 1949 • NSA helps monitoring, collecting, decoding, translating and analysis of information for the U.S decision makers and military leaders • It is also responsible for the protection of U.S government communications and information systems • NSA is the main producer and manger of signal intelligence for the United States • The agency is authorised to accomplish its mission through bugging electronic systems and allegedly engaging in sabotage through subversive software
  • 4. The Sources Edward Snowden • The Whistleblower • A NSA System administrator • Former NSA contractor, granted political asylum in Russia. Glenn Greenwald Shobhan Saxena • An independent U.S. journalist, currently working with Britain‟s Guardian newspaper • An Indian journalist • An investigative reporter with The Hindu • Contacted by former NSA contractor Snowden to unmask US Surveillance programs • Co-authored with Greenwald on NSA spying
  • 5. What is the issue? • The US National Security Agency regularly collected information and intercepted communication in India despite the friendly relationship between the two nations, according to the documents disclosed by NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden. • The NSA used at least two major programs to monitor communication in India:  Boundless Informant:Records the number of phone calls and emails made over a certain time span  PRISM: o Intercepts and collects actual data content from telecommunication networks. o Also collected information about certain specific issues “not related to terrorism” through Google, Microsoft, Facebook, Yahoo, Apple, YouTube and several other web-based services.
  • 6. • In March 2013, the NSA collected 6.3bn pieces of information from internet networks and 6.2bn pieces of information from the country's telephone networks over a period of 30 days • India was NSA‟s fifth likeliest surveillance target in the world after Iran, Pakistan, Jordan and Egypt • And according to the PRISM report, much of the communication targeted is not related to terrorism • Instead, much of the surveillance was focused on India‟s domestic politics and the country‟s strategic and commercial interests • It has also been revealed that the PRISM was used to intercept and pick content on at least three issues related to India‟s geopolitical and economic interests, which are-Nuclear, Space and Politics
  • 7. • In July, it was first reported that 38 embassies and diplomatic missions, including the Indian Embassy in Washington, were targeted by the NSA • According to the 2010 Communication Intelligence document about “Close Access SIGADs”, the offices of Indian diplomats and highranking military officials stationed at these important posts were targets using four different kinds of electronic snooping devices (bugs): Lifesaver : Facilitates imaging hard drives of computers Highlands : Makes digital collection from implants Vagrant : Collects data of open computer screens Magnetic : Collects of digital signals • The document about India had mentioned Politics, Space and Nuclear as the “end products”, according to an official of India Intelligence, it means that they have been listening in real time to what our political
  • 8. Indian Embassies Snooped  The office of India’s permanent representative to the UN in New York, houses: • India‟s permanent representative • Deputy permanent representative • A minister • A political coordinator • Six Counselors • A Colonel-rank military advisor • Several other secretaries who look after different areas of India‟s engagement with the world  The Chancery building of the Indian Embassy in Washington, DC. which has offices of : • The Indian ambassador • The deputy chief of mission • Several ministers and counsellors who head political, economic, defence and industry sections • Three Defence Attachés representing the Indian Army, Air Force and Navy  India maintains its diplomatic, trade and strategic ties with the U.S from this building The Embassy annex in Washington, DC. which has: • The consular section - looks after visa services • The commerce department involved in a broad range of trade issues and negotiations besides assisting the Indian businesses • An office of the ISRO - takes care of cooperation between two countries in the field of space
  • 9. The Stake-holders All the departments of the GoI: - economic, - political, - scientific - diplomatic, - military All the citizens of India All foes or allies of the US, who are spied upon, incl. US citizens
  • 10. Government of India’s Stand • At the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) by UN, The Obama administration, refused to sign the International Telecom Regulations and asserted that cybersecurity be kept out of the treaty‟s mandate and India chose regrettably to side with the U.S. as India‟s Central Monitoring System (CMS) intercepts private communication in the same vein as the NSA • Prime Minister Manmohan Singh‟s reluctance to protest against the NSA spying excesses during his American trip Continued…
  • 11. • The Indian mission to the UN has not reacted to the reports of snooping on foreign missions, but an Embassy officials said, “Our government has expressed concerns over the reports of monitoring of the Indian Embassy in Washington, D.C. by U.S. agencies, and the Embassy in Washington D.C. has raised these concerns with the U.S. government,” without elaborating in which meeting the issue was raised or what was the response of American officials. • Three possible reasons why India is holding back:  Prime Minister Singh does not wish to tarnish the piece de resistance in his foreign policy tab,  GoI worries about a potential blowback in ties on technology transfer, private investment and defence cooperation,  The government needs to sustain its own monitoring and intercepting of communication, for which it needs U.S. assistance
  • 12. Role of Media • The article about NSA surveillance first came out through an article by Gleen Greenwald on Britain‟s Guardian newspaper • Greenwald then co-authored with Sobhan Saxena on NSA spying in The Hindu newspaper • The Hindu had access to the top secret documents of the NSA which was disclosed by Snowden • The Hindu have been very vocal about the snooping issue since June • Very soon other news media picked up the issue incl CNN IBN, NDTV, TIMES NOW, ABP news. • Media grilled the Spokes-person of the GoI about the gross negligence of nation‟s security, its lack of aggressive persuasion, its failure of counter-intelligence and the safety of its citizen‟s privacy
  • 13. • Online media saw floods of negative posts and comments by disgruntled citizens on the passive nature of the GoI on tackling this issue • Hundreds and thousands of tweets and FB-comments were posted when the people came to know that the NSA snooped their online accounts of Gmail, Yahoo, MSN, Facebook, Twitter and other web apps. • Media played a vital role in exposing the role of NSA in gross data snooping of Indian citizen, prior to this even the GOI wasn‟t aware of the NSA surveillance in their own embassies in the US • Investigative journalism rather nation‟s counter-intelligence exposed the breach of national security. • It should be noted that some of the mainstream news media did not pursue this news-bite as aggressively as expected may be due to their allegiance to the ruling party
  • 14. A clipping from The Hindu
  • 15. NSA’s Statement • U.S. President Barack Obama and other top American officials have all claimed that the surveillance activities were aimed exclusively at preventing terrorist attacks. • A spokesman for the Office of the Director of National Intelligence said: “The U.S. government will respond through diplomatic channels to our partners and allies. While we are not going to comment publicly on every specific alleged intelligence activity, as a matter of policy we have made clear that the United States gathers foreign intelligence of the type gathered by all nations. We value our cooperation with all countries on issues of mutual concern.”
  • 16. Government of India’s Statement • “We had an issue, which was discussed when Secretary Kerry was in India,” Indian Minister of External Affairs Salman Khurshid said shortly after the visit. “He made a very clear explanation that no content has been sought or received of any email…So, I think as far as we are concerned, there is no issue today.” • “This is not surveillance,” Telecom & IT Minister Kapil Sibal emphasized. “However, if we find that content and data has or is being accessed by any other nation, we will oppose it tooth and nail. We are not in the least ambivalent about that.” • Officials at the Indian Embassy claim that the premises are safe. “Adequate measures are in place in this regard and all steps taken to safeguard the national interest,”.
  • 17. Some contradictory statements • CPI leader Gurudas Dasgupta claimed that the United States was carrying out surveillance over India which amounted to “serious infringement” of its political sovereignty and intrusion of privacy. • “Financial data of Indians is being monitored by the U.S. agencies through its credit card companies VISA and MasterCard … India should also develop its own credit card system as has been done by China which was essential for nation‟s financial and economic security,” asserted BJP MP Tarun Vijay
  • 18. • U.S. State Department spokesman Patrick Ventrell stated “While we‟re not going to comment publicly on the specifics of alleged intelligence activities, as a matter of policy we‟ve made clear that the U.S. gathers foreign intelligence of the type gathered by all nations,” • “If they could implant bugs inside communications equipment of European Union office here and tap into their communications cables as well, there is no reason to believe that they didn‟t snoop on us,” said the diplomat, speaking strictly on condition of anonymity. “We are still assessing the damage. If they managed to copy our hard drives, nothing is left to imagination.” • Reacting to the reports, the Ministry of External Affairs spokesperson Syed Akbaruddin had expressed concern at the “disconcerting” reports and said that the government would take up the concern with the Americans
  • 19. What the GoI can do • India could revive an IBSA (India-Brazil-South Africa) proposal from 2011 and submit it again to the U.N. General Assembly – Set up a U.N. Committee for Internet-Related Policies (CIRP), – It would comprise a rotating group of 50 countries serving in an advisory capacity on Internet governance policies, – CIRP would be positioned ideally to highlight egregious surveillance schemes of the U.S. and other countries • BRICS members would circulate an annual “name and shame” list of the companies who shares users‟ data to multilateral avenues and civil society forums across the world. The negative publicity would do more than its fair share to make IT companies rethink their clandestine collaboration with the U.S.
  • 20. What the GoI can/could do (PR perspective) • Hold a meeting with mobile and long distance operators such as Bharti, Reliance, Tatas, BSNL, MTNL, Uninor and Vodafone to issue a „Transparency Report‟ on all mainstream print media, about – the number of request by International Agencies for user data – the necessary legal document they had to submit to access it • Could organize a press conference and publicly call upon Google, Microsoft, Facebook, Yahoo, Apple, YouTube and several other web-based services to issue „Transparency Report‟ for the same to be produced within a stipulated time frame • Enter the digital media by uploading animated video on Youtube and other sites about a close prototype of Indian safety measure to counter foreign surveillance continued…
  • 21. • GoI could call for an internal meeting to – Assure all the official that our intelligence agency has taken adequate measures to make sure there is no bug in any official lodgings and Embassies – Indirectly warn them from issuing any statements anonymous or otherwise that goes against the sovereignty of the nation. • Could endorse a press-tour for the journalists in India‟s UN Embassy and the Embassy in Washington D.C. to – Explain the different levels of security that are in order to check any form of external surveillance (without giving away the core information about its security) – Facilitate the flow of information from the journalist to the media house continued…
  • 22. • Create pages on Social Media and reply to queries posted on that page related specifically to the safety and security of the citizens‟ privacy • Announce the initiative of creating a national email client and server and invite programmer (through ads. on newspaper) to brainstorm on its design and module. • Announce that when Parliament convenes for the winter session they would table amendments to the National Security Act and the Official Secrets Act which would stipulate – it is a punishable offence for Indian or India-base Internet and telecom companies to share confidential information with foreign governments about: • • • • Indian citizens, Public-sector institutions, Quasi-public sector Officials.
  • 23. PR Insights • This is a building crisis and issues related to US surveillance on India wont stop here. • The GoI is not ready to take the U.S. head-on as they are obligated to them for technology transfer, private investment and defense cooperation. • Transparency is lacking by the GoI, which is building up the crisis further. • There is a lack of aggression by the GoI, which is making them an easy target for criticism on social media. • There is no official assurance from GoI as such which is giving room for official to speculate that the GoI intelligence has no idea about the spying by NSA or they are helpless and hence compromising the security of all the citizen.