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India raises surveillance issue with US; seeks more info

June 13, 2013 19:48 IST

India has taken up with the United States the reports that it was the fifth most tracked country by the American intelligence using a secret data-mining programme to monitor worldwide internet data and sought further details in this regard.

India, which has already termed as "unacceptable" the violation, if any, of domestic laws relating to privacy of information of citizens, said the matter was taken up by National Security Advisor with the US Ambassador two days ago.

The issue has been "mentioned to the US Ambassador. Our interest in knowing little bit more. What actually has transpired?", official sources said, adding the matter was taken up by the National Security Advisor and government was awaiting clarifications from the US.

Americans have said that they are still doing the assessment to see what amount of damage in terms of their data has been done and, therefore, are not yet in a position to say anything clearly, the official sources added.

The sources also maintained that once the US gives more information to India then only the government can evaluate the situation and examine what laws were violated among other issues.

The issue is also expected to figure in the 4th round of Indo-US Strategic Dialogue to be held on June 24 when External Affairs Minister Salman Khurshid and his American counterpart John Kerry will meet. The Dialogue covers a range of issues including trade, countering terrorism, education, science and technology, clean energy and health.

Voicing surprise and concern, the Ministry of External Affairs spokesperson has said, "Obviously, we will find it to be unacceptable if Indian laws relating to privacy of information of Indian ordinary citizens have been violated. Surely we will, frankly, find it unacceptable".

The spokesperson also said the US and India have a cyber security dialogue which is coordinated by National Security Councils on both sides which was an appropriate fora to discuss such issues.

According to UK's Guardian newspaper, India was the fifth most tracked country.

The daily claims to have acquired top secret documents about US' National Security Agency's data-mining tool, called Boundless Informant.

A snapshot of the Boundless Informant data, contained in a top secret NSA "global heat map", shows that in March 2013, the agency collected 97 billion pieces of intelligence from computer networks worldwide.

It showed that Iran was the country where the largest amount of intelligence was gathered, with more than 14 billion reports in that period, followed by 13.5 billion from Pakistan.

Jordan, one of America's closest Arab allies, came third with 12.7 billion, Egypt fourth with 7.6 billion and India fifth with 6.3 billion.

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