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Aviolation of our digital borders.

THE government of India often has to take some rather silly flak from the news media about its stance on our Western and Northern borders. All that drivel about India lying down and letting our aggressive neighbours walk all over our us usually turns the complex work of border diplomacy into a game of jingoistic finger- pointing with no nuance in sight. So it comes as a surprise when a Cabinet minister himself admits that India's sovereignty has been violated. Worse, there seem to be no alarm bells ringing about this serious breach of our territory, just as the prime- time talking heads allege nightly.

Speaking at a conference in Delhi, Kapil Sibal -- whose pairing of ministries, law and telecom, makes him the ideal voice on this issue -- made it evident that India's embassies around the world are Indian territory, even at a digital level. " The Indian Embassy in New York is sovereign Indian territory," Sibal said.

" Data located there is in Indian territory." Considering America is said to have attempted to snoop on our communications inside that very embassy, one would imagine there would be some concern that our digital territory has been trampled on by the Americans. Sibal, asked about this, asked the media not to " trivialise" the issue.

National Security Advisor Shiv Shankar Menon went a step further, brushing off the issue by saying that spy agencies exist to spy on things.

That might be true on a realpolitik level, but if the communications of the Indian embassy qualify as Indian territory and it is fine for the NSA to snoop on these, that's as good as saying our borders are there to be crossed. To address Sibal's quibble that Indian courts might not have jurisdiction over this violation, the fact is, there's plenty more in our diplomatic arsenal than simply a legal challenge.

For once, it seems, the talking heads might be right: India is taking sovereignity issues far too lightly -- but not on the frontiers they are referring to.

The government seems far too sanguine about allegations that our cyber- sovereignty has been violated by the US

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Publication:Mail Today (New Delhi, India)
Geographic Code:9INDI
Date:Oct 15, 2013
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