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The intelligence war in Syria

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As Aeschylus said, “in war, truth is the first casualty”. However, every civilization has its own truth or rather its “myth of truth”, just to quote Nietzsche. Hence how can we apply our non-empiricist concept of true and false to the current war in Syria, which is basically the battle for future hegemony in the Middle East? Therefore we must study, above all, the social media, which have very useful characteristics for truth and its contemporary “concealment”.

In the past mass communication was influenced and conditioned by an up-down axis, by those who ran the media vis-à-vis those who passively enjoyed newspapers, TV, radio and cinema.

Today, with a view to enhancing and making invisible the “concealment”, which goes hand in hand with the “disclosure” of truth, the conditioning is a peer-to-peer process, in which sources and media overlap and come to terms at horizontal level.

Here the philological notation of the Greek word for “truth”, namely aletheia (λήθεια), applies, meaning “disclosure”, “revelation” or the shift from being concealed to being clear, evident and visible.

However, which are the channels through which we operate, in terms of Information Operations (IO), in the field of social media? And, in particular, how does this apply to the current war in Syria?

It is worth recalling that this war is the war for future hegemony throughout the Middle East, and then in the Mediterranean region.

In principle, the first tactic is downplaying the importance of facts and the people who put them in place – an action which unleashes a series of defamations and denials on the web.

A further tactic of diminutio is that of downplaying the magnitude or relevance of events.

Also in the other media manipulation procedures, this triggers off the typical web effect of demonstrating the “truth” as opposed to the analyses of the old media which, in some way, are all “servants of the visible power” – in the current common meaning of the phrase.

In addition, the Web has a very powerful “mass effect”: if a site or a piece of information is reflected on the Web, it generates a radial recall effect which intimidates the few ones having opposing opinions and is anyway infinitely greater than the effect of any old media.

However, from the Assyrians to present times, the real power is always invisible, just like the Web operators and manipulators. Hence, in contemporary warfare, the Web is the true agent of the Information Operations (IO), to which the operators of official communication now refer reluctantly and laboriously.

Then, in our categorization, there are the messages designed to influencing behaviours and opinions.

As Wittgenstein noted, “words are deeds”.

In this sector there are the sites with hidden identification sources, those with a false ideological origin, the “stories” – possibly true – which, however, become epitomes (i.e. compendiums, summaries) of political and strategic choices that have little to do with the private and individual story which is the subject of the storytelling.

It is worth considering the impact that the picture of a beautiful Afghan girl’s face had on the US public to make the US intervention in that country psychologically possible.

Nevertheless for the social media sites, the same old advertising techniques of manipulative marketing are used.

They are the following: the exaggeration of qualities, fallacious arguments and, finally, emotional appeals.

Anyone who goes to a supermarket for shopping can find examples for each category above.

Recently, a British newspaper reported a system enabling an operator to simultaneously manipulate at least a dozen fairly credible social networks, while other intelligence services use filtering systems to send to the major web media messages suitable for forming the public opinion they desire.

Therefore the peer-to-peer process of social media proves to be what it really is, namely a “concealment” of truth. It is worth recalling the real information that is provided mainly by the official sites which, however, often operate with deception techniques typical of the old intelligence technique of grey operations, namely those in which truth and falsehood are mixed credibly.

In the systems operating on the Web, the spreading of undesired news is prevented through the distributed denial of service (DDoS) or through hacking. Data can also be slowed down on the web, not to mention the distribution of some content on the social media, a technique that the US experts define as Viral Peace.

With a view to preventing the dissemination of harmful or defamatory content, a State can also spread a huge mass of irrelevant but not false signals, a technique similar to that of “noise” in traditional networks.

It can denigrate adverse sites or menacing Facebook accounts and possibly manipulate information or filter some websites directly.

And it can also shape the perception of operations, by managing the search engines on the Internet, manipulating Wikipedia and finally saying lies about political, strategic and military facts. Said lies will be believed inasmuch as they will be more widespread.

It is obvious that all these techniques do not rule out the use of usernames attributable to other subjects or the use of malware blocking the network and computers themselves.

Governments and terrorist or Mafia organizations can also prioritize the messages, so that the readers on the Web may attach more importance to the first than to the last web posts, namely those which are not usually read or are considered less reliable because they are less widespread.

Finally, other manipulation techniques on the web and, above all, in social media, are blaming, falsification, labelling, the “appeal to fear”, the “opinion of the Author, of the Authority or of the Experts”, the “relativization”, the “demonization”, the “manipulated videos” and the “ad hoc images”. The first pictures of the riots against President Bashar al-Assad in Syria were images of the regime rallies from which the “dangerous part had been removed”.

All these techniques have been used by all actors in the Syrian war.

In short, the war of the Web and on the Web is a great strategic equalizer, as well as an effective mass mobilization factor within the opponent’s field, and finally an extraordinary element of pressure on governments and military and economic decision-makers.

The latter are usually immediately sensitive to public opinion, that is the real target of the enemy’s mass manipulation.

In the case of Daesh-Isis, the Caliphate’s terrorist group uses specifically Twitter, because this type of social media allows to better conceal the real identity of “texters”, while it currently makes little use of other social media such as Friendica, Quitter and Diaspora, which have quickly removed the Caliphate’s accounts from their records.

Through a Google Play website called “Dawn of Glad Tidings,” currently the Caliphate reaches the Android platform, which it also uses for internal communications and, above all, for the propaganda towards young Islamists in the West.

In this very modern meaning, for Daesh propaganda and communication almost overlap: showing videos of beheadings conveys the message that the Caliphate is strong, does not fear adverse forces and will destroy the West.

This is also the core of its propaganda abroad, including the steganography or “implicit quotation” techniques, which are interpreted by Western or Arab militants as signals for action on their territory, equal in terror to the one they have seen in the videos.

No matter whether the attack is organized in Nice, Paris or Cologne; what counts for the managers of the Daesh-Isis communication is that the attack is perpetrated and is unpredictable.

It is worth recalling that the Assad regime fell as the other Arab countries’ during the Information Operation which was later called “Arab spring”.

In Libya, again for an Arab Spring operation, a few relatives of detainees gathered in front of the Benghazi prison to protest against the treatment of their loved ones, both “ordinary” inmates and political prisoners.

Later some activists of the “Libyan League for Human Rights”, a subsidiary of the head office in Paris, staged a demonstration against Gaddafi’s regime. The police reacted immediately and everything was filmed and “magnified”, while the French government was sending a submarine off the coast of the capital city of Cyrenaica with a group of the DGSE Service Action to expand and sustain the insurgency.

In Tunisia, the rebellion against Mohammed Bouazizi’ suicide (forced by the police asking the usual bribe) on December 17, 2010 was multiplied in the various cities with the Web, while amplifying the reaction of Ben Ali’s regime which, however, did not fully perceive the new molecular and “swarming” threat of the new political communication.

Even the French Revolution was amplified out of all proportion by the false news regarding the many ferocious tortures at the Bastille, where the Parisian revolutionaries found only very few inmates in excellent health conditions, including the Marquis De Sade.

In Egypt, the ranks of the Tahrir Square insurgents swelled only after the first demonstration against Mubarak’s government. The sister of Ayman Al Zawahiri, who was also a doctor, and, above all, the Head of Google in Egypt arrived in Tahrir Square. The latter allowed to bypass the web communications through the social media between the few insurgents and the large audience of young Egyptian Internet users.

The armed “security guards” to control the boys of Tahrir Square was provided by the Muslim Brotherhood – and it was certainly not a disinterested aid.

In Syria, the first activists against Bashar al-Assad’s regime got organized only with videos on YouTube. Before the outbreak of the real insurgency, they created a hashtag on Twitter (MAR15) and set the image of a small Gandhian, non-violent protest against the Syrian Baath’s power.

The point of no return was reached when the Syrian government arrested some young people in Deraa for having written a few sentences against President Assad on the walls.

Since then the Web swelled with messages, which were further amplified by references and comments, while the pan-Arab networks such as Al Jazeera used what they had, namely only the videos “posted” by the insurgents on YouTube, while there were only two Western journalists operating in Syria, who were loin des balles.

At that juncture, while the reaction of the Syrian regime increased, the leadership of the uprising shifted to the armed groups.

There was the dissemination of videos and “social networks” of the various Syrian armed groups competing with one another to recruit new militants and to show abroad who was really leading the anti-Assad front, not to mention the propaganda videos against Bashar.

The most disturbing and notorious videos of that period were those of the rebels’ commander eating a lung of the “enemy” or those of the many corpses of the children killed apparently by Assad’s gas, as during the Hama massacre in 1982 when Hafez el Assad quashed a revolt of the Muslim Brotherhood with nerve gas. The parallel between Hafez and his son characterized all rebels’ propaganda.

The “storytelling” marking the insurgency against Bashar’s Baath Party was anyway that of a non-violent, pro-Western and especially joint revolution.

Three blatant cases of hoaxing and misinformation. Conversely Assad’s regime reacted, again on the social media, by stating that the “Syrian Spring” jihad was funded by Saudi Arabia and Qatar. It was certainly true, but the primary effect on the web and the old media amplifying the insurgency videos was the one obtained by the children killed by Bashar’s gas, always assuming that is was true.

As taught by the old masters of Criminal Law, the eyewitnesses are the least reliable.

And the terrible images were immediate and affected the deep psyche of the readers and the Western public, while Assad’s “cortical” and political message could not have the same effect.

Even in foreign policy, crime news gains the upper hand.

Therefore the primary goal of the insurgency groups was the West’s involvement and in that phase, at the end of 2012, the Local Coordinating Committees were activated in Beirut, London and Istanbul to lobby their respective governments and the huge “Arab masses”, with a view to stepping up the intervention.

Another tactic similar to the one of the Libyan uprising against Gaddafi can be found specifically in Syria when, at the time, the “Syrian Observatory for Human Rights”, based in London, which had always been close to the rebels and funded by Saudi Arabia, was alerted.

There was also the creation of the Sham News Network, which distributed to the official press videos, news and data manipulated according to above described methods.

And it is worth noting that it was the only source of Western newspapers and TV networks (including Al Jazeera and Al Arabiya) which were opinion leaders and influenced the governments which, at the time, had no independent sources on the Syrian territory.

And it is also worth noting that they legitimized the insurgents’ messages thanks to their information authoritativeness.

The network of “citizen journalists”, usually non-military members of the opposition to Bashar, did the rest.

It was at that juncture that the Syrian Electronic Army started to operate in favour of the government and began to launch DDoS attacks and hacking against the opposition websites and social networks.

But it was too late and the storytelling conveyed by the opposition to the Baath Party had already gained the upper hand in the minds of the Western media and public.

Once again, we have to pay attention to what the Italian economist and sociologist, Vilfredo Pareto, called “residuals”. In psychology as in war, those who strike first, strike twice.

Finally, before the very first Western journalists arriving on the Syrian territory, a network of “authentication” of the insurgents’ messages was created – a network which was run by some well-known Arab journalists, who acted as testimonials – just to use the advertising jargon – for the videos shot and manipulated by the Syrian rebels.

Twitter, a preferential channel for the Information Operation of the rebels and the regime, was largely in Arabic, and almost all Western operators did not know that language and communicated in English on Twitter. The two language areas, however, never overlapped, thus creating a further manipulation tool.

The English-speaking Twitter-sphere spoke of President Obama or of NATO, while the Arabic-speaking one spoke of situations on the ground and magnified the insurgents’ operations.

Hence, with a view to understanding the present wars in the Middle East, we must know the current deception techniques used on the Web and the social media, which mostly employ the traditional methods of advertising, marketing and applied psychology.

The future will be characterized by “psywars” and infowars, which will generate much more terrible and fiercer effects on the ground than traditional wars. The Information Operations are ubiquitous and pave the way for actions on the ground.

The wars of the future will be Long Wars which will be fought between information central units, while, on the battlefield, the Western self-disarmament will create the conditions for an equalization of the warring forces.

Advisory Board Co-chair Honoris Causa Professor Giancarlo Elia Valori is an eminent Italian economist and businessman. He holds prestigious academic distinctions and national orders. Mr. Valori has lectured on international affairs and economics at the world’s leading universities such as Peking University, the Hebrew University of Jerusalem and the Yeshiva University in New York. He currently chairs “International World Group”, he is also the honorary president of Huawei Italy, economic adviser to the Chinese giant HNA Group. In 1992 he was appointed Officier de la Légion d’Honneur de la République Francaise, with this motivation: “A man who can see across borders to understand the world” and in 2002 he received the title “Honorable” of the Académie des Sciences de l’Institut de France. “

Intelligence

UN: Revealing Taliban’s Strategic Ties with Al Qaeda and Central Asian Jihadists

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Afghan peace mediators

As the 20th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks and the deadline for the withdrawal of American troops from Afghanistan draws near, the region has been witnessing sudden adjustments. The Taliban have not only intensified assaults against the Afghan government forces and captured new territories but also began to demonstrate their regional ambitions to reduce Washington’s influence in Central and South Asia. As the US military has completed more than half of its withdrawal from Afghanistan, the Taliban believe that they defeated America after 20 years of grueling war. The Taliban leaders, who were driven by the latest military successes, began further setting their own conditions for the neighbors and stepping on the toes of Washington in order to prevent the establishment of a new US military base in Central Asia.

On May 26, the Taliban issued a statement warning Afghanistan’s neighbors not to allow the US to utilize their territory and airspace for any future military operations against them. The Sunni Islamist jihadi group cautioned that facilitating US military operations by neighboring countries in the future will be a “great historical mistake and a disgrace that shall forever be inscribed as a dark stain in history.” They further emphasized that the presence of foreign forces is “the root cause of insecurity and war in the region.” The insurgent group strictly warned without elaborating that “the people of Afghanistan will not remain idle in the face of such heinous and provocative acts”. At the end of the statement, they exerted political pressure on the Central Asian states, threatening that “if such a step is taken, then the responsibility for all the misfortunes and difficulties lies upon those who commit such mistakes.”

Given the past experience of US military presence in the region, the Taliban’s threatening appeal is most likely addressed to the governments of Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan and Tajikistan.  After the 9/11 attacks the Kyrgyz, Tajik, and Uzbek governments hosted the American military to wage a campaign against the Taliban, Al Qaeda and their Salafi-Jihadi subsidiaries. But virtually every US military base in Central Asia was suddenly expelled when the personal interests of the regional authoritarian leaders have been infringed upon. Uzbekistan expelled the US base from Karshi-Khanabad amid strong political disagreements over a bloody 2005 crackdown on protesters in Andijan. The Dushanbe and Kulob airports in Tajikistan were used very briefly by the NATO forces. The US base at the Bishkek airport in Kyrgyzstan also was closed in 2014 under heavy Russian hands. It is no secret that following the expel of US military bases, some political leaders of Central Asia became skeptical of Washington, thus further perceiving it as an unreliable partner.

The Taliban’s warning to the Central Asian states is fully consistent with the strategic expectations of Al Qaeda, its loyal and faithful ideological partner in the global jihad, both of which jointly seek to push the US out not only from Afghanistan, but also from Central and Southeast Asia. Based on propaganda releases and the rhetoric on Telegram channels, the Central Asian Salafi-Jihadi groups which are linked to the Taliban and Al Qaeda, strongly supported the withdrawal of US forces from the region. Consequently, Uighur and Uzbek jihadists potentially see the Taliban and Al Qaeda as powerful parent organizations, whose resurgence in Afghanistan offers major advantages for their military and political strengthening. Unsurprisingly, Al Qaeda and Taliban aims to oust the US forces from the region, hence playing into the hands of Moscow and Beijing, considering that both unlikely to welcome an increased US military presence in their backyard.

Taliban leaders are well aware that the possible deployment of US military assets in Central Asia will impede their strategic goal in rebuilding the so-called Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan. Today Washington is actively working with nations surrounding Afghanistan on the deployment of its troops to support Afghan forces “over the horizon” after withdrawal from the country on September 11. The US air support for the Afghan military could thwart Taliban plans to quickly seize Kabul and force them to sit at the negotiating table with the Ashraf Ghani administration. The Taliban have consistently and clearly emphasized in their numerous public statements opposing the negotiation and power share with the Kabul regime. They consider themselves the only and undeniable military-political force that has the right to rule the country in accordance with Sharia law. The Taliban jihadists are determined to continue waging jihad until establishing the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan, and their emir, Mullah Haibatullah Akhundzada, becomes the country’s “lawful ruler”.

On June 6, 2021, the Taliban once again appealed to Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan “to resolve their border issues through a dialogue” and “seeking a logical solution that would benefit both sides.” Recall, during the two-day border conflict between the armed forces of the two post-Soviet countries at the end of April, more than 50 people were killed, hundreds were injured and thousands were forced to leave their homes. In its statement, the Taliban, called on Tajik and Kyrgyz leaders to value “the peace and security of their respective nations.” According to the local analysts, Taliban’s “peace-aiming appeal” looks like a mockery of the Afghan people suffering from their bloody jihad.

Taliban’s “Soft Power” Under Construction

The question to be posed is what kind of leverage does the Taliban has with the Central Asian states to put pressure on them in preventing the possible deployment of new US military bases in the region?

The Taliban, an insurgent Islamist group that has yet to come to power, does not have any economic or political leverage over the former Soviet republics of Central Asia. But it is imperative to mention that the Taliban holds “soft power” tools, such as Central Asian Salafi-Jihadi terrorist groups affiliated with the Taliban and Al Qaeda. These groups challenged the region’s secular regimes, hence aiming to establish an Islamic Caliphate in the densely populated Fergana Valley, sandwiched between Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan and Tajikistan.

It is no secret that the Central Asian post-Soviet countries consider the Al Qaeda-linked Uzbek and Uighur Sunni Salafi-Jihadi groups hiding in Taliban-controlled Afghan soil as a threat to the security of the entire region. Recall, the first group of radical Islamists from Central Asia who found refuge in Afghanistan in the mid-90s was the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan (IMU), which had close and trusting ties with both Al Qaeda and the Taliban. Currently, Uighur fighters of Turkestan Islamic Party (TIP) from China’s Xinjiang, Uzbek militant groups such as Katibat Imam al-Bukhari (KIB), Katibat Tawhid wal Jihad (KTJ), the Islamic Jihad Union (IJU) and Tajik militants of Jamaat Ansarullah (JA) wage jihad in Afghanistan under the Taliban’s umbrella.

The Taliban still strongly support Uzbek and Uighur jihadists despite the 2020 US-Taliban peace agreement that requires the Taliban to sever ties with Al Qaeda and all Central Asian terrorist groups.

In response to documentary evidence of the UN Security Council and the US Defense Intelligence Agency on the Taliban’s close-knit relationship with Al Qaeda and their failure to fulfill the obligation, the Taliban have adopted new tactics to publicly deny the presence of transnational terrorist groups in the country and their ties to them. The Taliban still insist that there are no foreign fighters in the country. But regular UN reports reveal the true face of the Taliban, who are trying to hide their deep network links with Al Qaeda and Central Asian Islamists — a decades-old relationship forged through common ideology and a history of joint jihad.

Thus, a recently released report by the UN Security Council’s Taliban Sanctions Monitoring Team confirms that there are “approximately between 8,000 and 10,000 foreign terrorist fighters from Central Asia, the North Caucasus and China’s Xinjiang in Afghanistan. Although the majority are affiliated foremost with the Taliban, many also support Al Qaeda.” The UN report stated that Uzbek and Uighur jihadists’ ties with the Taliban and Al Qaeda remain “strong and deep as a consequence of personal bonds of marriage and shared partnership in struggle, now cemented through second generational ties.” Further the UN monitoring team revealed Al Qaeda’s core strategy of “strategic patience,” according to which the group would wait for “a long period of time before it would seek to plan attacks against international targets again.”

According to the report, “several hundred Uighur jihadists of Turkestan Islamic Party (TIP) located primarily in Badakhshan and neighboring Afghan provinces, whose strategic goal is to establish an Islamic Uighur state in Xinjiang, China.” To achieve its goal, TIP facilitates the movement of fighters from Afghanistan and Syria to China. Abdul Haq al-Turkistani, who is a member of Al Qaeda’s Shura Majlis, leads the Syrian and Afghan branches of TIP for more than two decades. According to the UN monitoring group, “Uighur militant Hajji Furqan, the TIP’s deputy emir, is also a deputy leader of Al Qaeda and responsible for the recruitment of foreign fighters.” Such mixed appointments of group leaders highlight the close and deep ties between the troika: Taliban-Al Qaeda-TIP.

The UN report found more evidence of close cooperation between Uzbek IMU jihadists and the Taliban. The report stated that the “IMU fighters are currently based in Faryab, Sar-e Pol and Jowzjan provinces, where they dependent on the Taliban for money and weapons”. The UN monitoring team also highlighted the activities of Central Asian Salafi-Jihadi groups such as KIB, IJU and Jundullah, which are waging jihad in the northern Afghan provinces of Faryab and Kunduz under Taliban shelter and control. “The Taliban has forbidden these groups from launching independent operations, resulting in a reduction of their income.” In conclusion, UN analysts noted that pressure on the Taliban to cut their ties with Al Qaeda and Central Asian Salafi groups has not succeeded. Thus, the UN report once again refuted the Taliban’s assertion that Al Qaeda and Central Asian jihadists are not present in Afghanistan.

Conclusion

Thus, it can be assumed that while US military pressure persists, the Taliban’s tactics will continue to publicly deny their trust relationships and close ties with Al Qaeda, Central Asian jihadists, and other transnational terrorist groups in the country. But as long as the Taliban’s perception of its own level of influence and control in Afghanistan remains high, insurgents will continue to insist that they are abiding by the accord with the US.

The Taliban’s strategy is to build the foundation of their “soft power” through the patronage and protection of Al Qaeda and Central Asian Salafi-Jihadi groups in Afghanistan. Thus, in this complex process, not only material interests, but also common religious roots originating in the Hanafi school of Sunni Islamic theology and mutual sympathy for jihadist ideological visions might play a significant role.

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Cyber-attacks-Frequency a sign of Red Alert for India

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The biggest target is in terms of transportations, nuclear power plants, Power system Operation Corporation Limited, V.O. Chidambaram Port Trust, Telangana State Load Dispatch Centre, logistic industries and research organisations which eventually can lead to destruction of the whole ecosystem. The confidentiality breach in the case of medical data leak as reported by a German cyber security firm –Greenbone Sustainable Resilience wherein Picture Archiving and Communication Servers were linked to public internet without any requisite protection is a point of concern. Then, there are certain individualistic attacks such as hacking email and financial crimes (banking), etc. In the last two years the attacks radar of focus has been defence, government accounts and the vaccine manufacturing companies.

Cyber Security – Individualistic awareness need of the hour

The target of the individual in a peculiar case which led to heinous crimes casted was due to opening of a document which was a bait to install Netwire- a malware. The bait was eventually delivered through a file and what prompted a person to open that link was a Drop box sent to him on his email was actually opening a Pandora Box of malicious command and control server. An emphasis to understand the technicality that Netwire stands for a malware which gives control of the infected system to an attacker. This in turn paves way for data stealing, logging keystrokes and compromise passwords. In the similar vein the Pegasus used the tactic to infiltrate the user’s phones in 2019.

Cyber Security – Attacking Power Distribution Systems

The intrusions by Chinese hacker groups in October, 2020 as brought out by Recorded Future was done through Shadow Pad which opens a secret path from target system to command and control servers. And, the main target is sectors such as transportation, telecommunication and energy .And , there are different tags that are being used by the Chinese Espionage Industry such as APT41, Wicked Spider and Wicked Panda , etc.

The institutions backing legitimisation

The Institutions which are at working under the cyber security surveillance are the National Security Council and National Information Board headed by National Security Adviser helping in framing India’s cyber security policy .Then, in 2014 there is the National Critical Information Infrastructure Protection Centre under the National Technical Research Organisation mandating the protection of critical information infrastructure. And, in 2015 the National Cyber Security Coordinator advises the Prime Minister on strategic cyber security issues. In the case of nodal entity , India’s Computer Emergency Response Team (CERT-in) is playing a crucial role under the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology(MEITY).But, there is a requirement of clarity in National Cyber Security Policy of 2013 and the needed updates desired in it respectively.

A cohesive approach – Data Protection and Privacy Importance

The Data privacy i.e. the personal data protection bill is an important imperative in which services of private actors can be bridged through a concerned law which is missing link in that sense. The point of Data localisation falls squarely within this dimension of Section 40 and 41 of the draft bill where in the Indian stakeholders have the capacity to build their own data centres .In this contextualisation there also a need to understand certain technicalities involved in terms of edge computing which in a way is enabling the data to be analysed, processed, and transferred at the edge of a network. An elaboration to this is the data is analysed locally, closer to where it is stored, in real-time without delay. The Edge computing distributes processing, storage, and applications across a wide range of devices and data centres which make it difficult for any single disruption to take down the network. Since more data is being processed on local devices rather than transmitting it back to a central data centre, edge computing also reduces the amount of data actually at risk at any one time. Whereas on the other hand, there is insistence on data localisation has paved the way for companies such as Google Pay to adhere to the policy and synchronise their working with the United Payments Interface (UPI).

What do you understand by Data Share?

In the recent case of WhatsApp privacy issue and drawing in parallel other organisation a similar platform such as Facebook and Google shared the data to the third party with a lopsided agreement and with continuance of the data trade business industry. In 1996 the internet was free so was perceived as carte blanche , a safe harbour falling under the Section 230 of the Communication Decency Act in the United States but with the evolution of the circumstances the laws in that specifications are also required to change in that respect. In relations to the Indian law under the Information Technology Act, 2000 under the Section 69 the Indian government has the powers to monitor and decrypt any information that’s store in any computer resource but on certain conditions such as in regards to the sovereignty, defence and security of the country.

Cyber-attacks understanding on the International Forums

In terms of Lieber Code of Conduct of 1863 or be it Hague Convention of 1899 there is a need of updating the definitions and where in the cyber army falling under the categorisation  of civilians , not possessing any of the warfare weapons cause the main weapon that they possess is a malware which is invisible but can have deep repercussions leading to destruction of that particular economy altogether .So, in recent evolving circumstances there is an undue importance to for the target country to respond with equal force and having a right to self-defence in this manner regardless of the attack being from a non-state actor from a third country and masquerading under the civilian garb .Henceforth , there a thorough understanding of the complex environment that one is dealing with , there is undue emphasis to change and respectively update with the current world.

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Incidents of Uranium Theft in India: Depleting Nuclear Safety and International Silence

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Terrorism

In yet another incident of the capture of nuclear-related materials from unauthorized persons in India has made headlines in the Indian media but largely ignored in the international media. On 4th June 2021, as reported in the Indian media, the authorities arrested seven people possessing approximately 6.4 kilograms of Uranium in the Eastern State of Jharkhand. This is the second time in less than a month where Indian authorities have captured such a gang in an attempt to sell uranium illegally. An incident of the same nature was reported just a few days ago in May 2021 where authorities apprehended unauthorized persons, who were trying to sell nearly 7 kilograms of natural uranium on the black market. Notably, Indian authorities themselves believe that these events might be linked to a “national gang involved in illegal uranium trade”. This is a very serious issue because it means two things; first, that Indian local uranium reserves, radioactive nuclear materials, and facilities are not protected and are prone to black marketing. Secondly, this scenario has emerged because India is not adhering to international bindings of nuclear safety and security such as UN resolution 1540 and (Convention on Physical Protection on Nuclear Material) CPPNM under IAEA to secure its materials, reserves, and facilities. But, the most damaging aspect in this scenario is the discriminatory behavior of the international community, which is criminally silent on the violations of norms, practices, and regulations necessary for nuclear safety and security.

Though in both incidents, Uranium was in natural condition, which cannot be used for making bombs; however; it should be of great concern, as even in its natural state the Uranium can spread considerable radioactivity if used with conventional explosives. Moreover, Indian authorities themselves are considering that these activities could be linked with national gangs involved in the illegal supply of uranium. This raises the point that actually how much natural uranium is illegally sold in the black market by India. Since these are only incidents that are being reported in the Indian media, there might be many incidents that have never been reported. Also, this gang was captured from near the area where Indian Uranium mines of Jharkhand are allocated, the likelihood of access of non-state actors to these mines cannot be denied. These incidents are critical for international security and stability because such radioactive material when sold in black markets could be brought by the non-state and states aspiring for nuclearization. Unfortunately, in such a scenario all the efforts currently going on to stop the proliferation of nuclear weapons would be hampered. The recurring of these incidents reflect that India, despite being a member of CPPNM is not ensuring the protection of its nuclear materials from theft and sabotage by proper regulations, stringent mechanisms, and control. Other than CPPNM, India has also signed UN resolution 1540, which makes it mandatory for the states to ensure security regulations, mechanisms, equipment required for the security of Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD) from the non-state actors. But, surprisingly, so far the UN or any other international organization has not taken notice of these recurring events. Rather, these mishaps by Indian authorities are shoved under the carpet. These incidents have been reportedly re-occurring in India, media reported these events in 2003, 2008, 2009, 2013, 2016, 2019, and now again in 2021. 

Nuclear safety and security is a national matter of any state; however, against the backdrop of the potential damage, which these weapons can bring, they have become an international concern. Specifically, to an extent, where states are sometimes criticized, lauded, and sometimes rewarded for their behavior in this realm. In this regard, India appears as an exceptional case, where the formation of Nuclear Suppliers Group NSG to stop such events in the future has its roots in the Indian so-called peace nuclear explosion (PNE) in 1974. Ironically, a few years down the road, the same NSG gave a waiver to India for conducting nuclear export. Moreover, India was made part of many other regimes such as the Missile Technology Control Regime (MTCR), Australia Group, and Wassenaar Arrangement. Although, these decisions were carried out in lieu of geo-political realities, where the West regards India as a balancer against China but it gave a free hand to India. Even the US-based NTI Report on Nuclear Security Index gives India less score in nuclear safety and security regulations. At a time when many nuclear theft-related incidents have occurred in India in recent years, disgracefully, India still desires to become a member of NSG based on its so-called nuclear record.

To sum up the situation, the occurrence of back-to-back nuclear theft-related incidents has further exposed India’s nuclear credentials and its non-adherence to international practices of nuclear safety and security. If legal bindings such as CPPNM and 1540 would not be implemented in the future by India, the South Asian stability, as well as the international security, would be undermined. Moreover, if the international non-proliferation continues to remain lenient towards states like India, the rest would likely regard the international non-proliferation mechanism not just as discriminatory but even as hoaxing. Many states might prefer to proliferate for their own interests, which would not serve the non-proliferation mechanism and regime. A very candid example is that today even after two years of the last NPT review conference, the next has not been conducted and chances are that it might not be conducted this year.

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