Nikhil Pahwa Profile picture
14 Sep, 10 tweets, 2 min read
Q's you have to ask about the IE story on Zenhua and Chinese profiling of significant Indian folks is:
1. is profiling illegal?
It isn't. Not even as per the personal data protection bill. Twitter does it. Facebook does it. LinkedIn does it. Political parties do it.
1/n
2. Is collecting public data off social media illegal?
It isn't. Much of ad industry is exactly that. Collect data, classify people, target them. But it is surveillance. SC said about Indian govts social media tender: blanket montioring of social media is mass surveillance.
2/n
3. Is identifying/documenting relationships between people using publicly available data illegal?
It isn't. Journalists do this for stories. LinkedIn does it, quite publicly. Social media = behavioral and relational info
3/n
4. Is this something new? Is it surprising?
Tell me a country that doesn't have a dossier on significant actors in a significant country. India probably has this on the Chinese as well. Probably not of this scale, but every country has it.
4/n
5. Is it worrying?
Of course it is. Digital enables profiling and targeting at a population scale. Profiling can be harmful and misused by intelligence agencies. (Even by us on our own citizens. Look up NATGRID, btw).

5/n
6. How can this be used? To run targeted disinformation campaigns. In some cases, to run honeypot traps. Can be used for further operations and blackmail. Spy thriller stuff.
7. How will the hawks play this?
They'll demand data localisation, when it really doesn't help here.
6/n
8. What can we do? One thing the PDP bill must have, is to enable us to know who is collecting what info about is, and for us to be able to delete that info. If companies like Zenhua don't comply, then we need to mandate that platforms block their access. Not sure what else.
9. Is this why India banned Chinese apps: data gathering? I think that's just a ruse they're using. In my opinion, they've banned because of the armed forces standoff, as a political response. Risk of cyber attacks is real. Data collection is not a believable reason for ban. 9/n
Oh and here's the IE story, which to my mind, is making too much of this data collection.
indianexpress.com/article/expres…
Every TV show I've gone on, people who don't understand how the internet works have suggested data localisation as a solution for preventing Chinese firms from scraping publicly available data (tweets, follows, fb posts etc) from social networks.

This is beyond ridiculous.

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More from @nixxin

18 Sep
The removal of Paytm and Paytm First Games from the Google Play Store covers two interesting #techpolicy issues:

1. Platform Power: Google and Apple have an operating system duopoly. Remember that you can't upload an app store app on the Google Play Store. Thus
(1/n)
They have the power of the default. It's also an app store duopoly. They leverage this duopoly to control entire ecosystems, and effectively control the app economy of a country. The TRAI Chairman @rssharma has spoken about "platform neutrality". Can they ban apps from
(2/n)
their platform, without repercussions? Of course they can, as a pvt platform. They don't want to enable realmoney gaming & gambling? That's their prerogative. But there's a challenge when apps don't have any other significant options.

2. Realmoney gaming: This is where it
(3/n)
Read 13 tweets
12 Jul
Dunzo, one of India's most popular hyper-local delivery apps (funded by Google) said its user phone numbers and email addresses were breached in a #cybersecurity incident.

Here's what we know 👇
1. Attackers compromised servers of a third party that Dunzo works with, and accessed the Dunzo database through them.

2. Payment info (credit cards etc) was not compromised

3. Passwords were not compromised because Dunzo uses OTPs

What we don't know 👇
1. We don't know if email addresses of all users have been compromised, or only some.

2. Who the vendor is. Dunzo hasn't disclosed the name.

There remains a risk (if the vendor wasn't working exclusively with Dunzo) that other databases could have been compromised.

+
Read 6 tweets
29 Jun
India has banned 59 Chinese apps. The list is below.

Thread with my comments on this follows 👇 (1/6)
1. This is the very first time, to my knowledge, that the Indian govt has actually ANNOUNCED a ban on apps under Section 69 of the IT Act. You know what's surprising? They don't NEED to announce it. Section 69 allows for secret govt blocking. (2/6)
Thus, this is a POLITICAL decision. It has been announced to send China a message. It should not be seen as anything but a political decision. No change in way these apps function over the past 3 months. If this is the right decision, why wasn't it taken a year ago? (3/6)
Read 12 tweets
2 Jun
Thread: I attended an Zoom call (also live-streamed on FB) on Sunday, on invitation from BJP's Vinit Goenka, who has filed a case in the SC against Twitter.

Mr. Goenka called for Twitter to be declared a terrorist org. My story on this call: medianama.com/2020/06/223-vi… (1/n)
Not only did Mr. Goenka call for twitter to be declared a terrorist organisation, but also for charges of sedition to be filed against the company’s public policy officials, and cases and complaints to be filed against them across the country medianama.com/2020/06/223-vi… (2/n)
On the call were various other complainants. One has filed complaints with commissioners of Police in Mumbai and Pune, as well as the NIA. Others in their local police stations. One said he is in the process of filing a case in Gujarat HC medianama.com/2020/06/223-vi… (3/n)
Read 8 tweets
29 May
The battle between Twitter and Trump is escalating, and this might not end well for the rest of us. Trump's executive order on social media achieves little, but it's more of a threat that it could change the way the Internet works.

#Thread 1/n

whitehouse.gov/presidential-a…
(2/n) Reason why we're can upload content on sites like YouTube,FB,Reddit,Twitter,every forum,all blogs (w comments) is because 230(c) of US Communications Decency Act provides safe harbor: platform/ISP is not liable for content that you and I create( but we are). +
(3/n) This is why Facebook allows you to post on Facebook. Blogs and Reddit allow you to comment. YouTube allows you to upload your videos. ISPs allow you to create your own site. Therefore, 230(c) (& India's IT Act Section 79) PROTECT the platforms that ENABLE our free speech.
Read 19 tweets
20 Apr
Thread: The Chinese Consultate in India has reacted to India's restriction on investments from states with which it has land borders (i.e. China, because that's where much of the investment in India has come from).
medianama.com/2020/04/223-ch…
Chinese Investment in India is over $8 billion, and it has been a substantial investor in Indian tech startups. Some big names Sharechat, Paytm, Paytm Mall, Byjus, Gaana, Hike, MX Player, Snapdeal, Zomato, Dream11, Swiggy, Udaan +
medianama.com/2020/04/223-ch…
+Practo, Bigbasket, DailyHunt, ZestMoney, Mygate, Ola, Oyo, PolicyBazaar, Quickr, Delhivery and others.
medianama.com/2020/04/223-ch…
CTrip owns almost half of India’s largest online travel company MakeMyTrip. medianama.com/2019/04/223-ch…
Read 10 tweets

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