GOVERNANCE/ SECURITY/ SOCIETY
- GS-2: Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors and issues arising out of their design and implementation
- GS-3: Awareness in the field of IT
Lateral Surveillance: Cyber Crime Volunteers Program
- Indian Cyber Crime Coordination Centre (I4C), under the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA), launched the Cyber Crime Volunteers Program with the aim to allow citizens to register themselves as “Cyber Crime Volunteers’’ in the role of “Unlawful Content Flaggers”.
- The programme targets to rope in around 500 persons to flag unlawful content on the Internet.
- It will help law enforcement agencies in identifying, reporting and in the removal of illegal/unlawful online content.
- The State Nodal Officer of States/UTs also reserves the right to take legal action against the Volunteer, in case of violation of terms and conditions of the Program.
- This form of surveillance, which enables citizens to “watch over” one another is called lateral surveillance.
- While surveillance of any kind shows an imbalance of power between the person who surveils, and the one under surveillance, lateral surveillance specifically ensures that the imbalance of power no longer exists.
- Cause for Lateral Surveillance: Wherever the state identifies that it “cannot be everywhere”, it deploys this mechanism. The problem arises when it is organised and state-sponsored.
- Hurts Privacy: Lateral surveillance is used to further emotional objectives such as community building and strengthening relationships with neighbours where emotional and social factors act as a driving force, thus creating a situation where privacy may be undermined for the betterment of the community.
- Social Discriminatory: Surveillance technologies not only act as a tool for social control but also as a tool for social exclusion. Lateral surveillance thus makes it easier to discriminate between those who conform to the social norms of the majority.
- Culture of Distrust: State-sponsored lateral surveillance is harmful as it creates a culture of ‘hate’, ‘fear’ and ‘constant suspicion’ against an ‘enemy’. This culture places a duty on people to ‘keep an eye out’ for ‘their own safety’ and this heightens the fear of crime in society.
- Widen Faultlines in Society: Such perceived threats have a tendency to increase intolerance, prejudice, xenophobia and casteism in our society, while also violating the fundamental right to privacy, and, consequently, the expression of free speech and behaviour.
Connecting the dots: