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Watch: Madhya Pradesh Finance Minister Jagdish Devda shows off sword-fighting skills at village fair


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UPSC Geo-Scientist Mains 2022 DAF released; submit by September 9


Union Public Service Commission (UPSC) has released the Detailed Application Form (DAF) for Combined Geo-Scientist (Mains) Exam 2022. Candidates who have been declared qualified in the Main examination can fill up the DAF at upsconline.nic.in by September 9, 2022.

The UPSC Geoscientist Main exam 2022 was conducted on June 25 and 26 in two shifts — 9.00 AM to 12 noon and 2.00 PM to 5.00 PM.

The information earlier given by candidates in the Application Form for the Examination through online will be cross-checked with the information given by them in this Detailed Application Form online. If there will be any serious discrepancies, their candidature is liable to be rejected/cancelled.

“A candidate must upload along with his/her online Detailed Application Form, a scanned copy of certificate of age (indicating his/her date of birth). The date of birth accepted by the Commission is that entered in the Matriculation or Secondary School Leaving Certificate or in a certificate recognised by an Indian University as equivalent to Matriculation or in an extract from a Register of Matriculates maintained by a University which extract must be certified by the proper authority of the University. A candidate who has passed the Higher Secondary Examination or an equivalent Examination may submit a scanned copy of the Higher Secondary Examination certificate or an equivalent certificate,” reads the notification.

The recruitment drive is being conducted to fill up a total of 192 vacancies.

Steps to fill the UPSC Geo-Scientist Main DAF

  1. Visit the official website upsconline.in
  3. Click on the login link, enter Roll No and Password to login
  4. Proceed with filling the DAF and submit
  5. Download and take a printout for future reference

Direct link to Geo-Scientist Main DAF.

For more details, candidates are advised to visit the official website here.

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Amitabh Bachchan fans install life-size statue of actor outside their home in the US


👆🏻👆🏻On Saturday august 27th we have placed @SrBachchan statue 👆🏻👆🏻👆🏻👆🏻at outside in the front of our new home in edison NJ USA . Lots of Mr Bachchan’s fan’s participated on Mr Bachchan’s staue inoguration ceremony. pic.twitter.com/O3RklFS5eZ

— Gopi EFamily (@GopiSheth) August 28, 2022

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BPSC Auditor Main 2020 registration window reopens; check details here


The Bihar Public Service Commission (BPSC) has re-opened the online application window for Auditor (Mains) Competitive Exam 2020 today, August 30. Candidates can apply for the main examination on the official website bpsc.bih.nic.in till September 15.

The last date for the application hard copy to reach the Commission’s office is September 21, 2022, upto 5.00 PM. In total, 4259 candidates have qualified for the Auditor Main exam.

The BPSC recruitment drive is being conducted to fill a total of 373 Auditor vacancies. The selection of the candidates for Auditor posts will be done on the basis of the preliminary exam, main exam, and interview round.

Steps to apply for Auditor Main 2020 exam

  1. Visit the official website bpsc.bih.nic.in
  2. On the homepage, click on “Apply Online”
  3. Login to the portal using your Username and Password
  4. Pay the fee and apply for the main examination
  5. Submit the form and take a printout for future reference

For more details, candidates are advised to visit the official website here.

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Watch: Students made to clean toilets at government school in Bihar’s Arrah


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NEET UG answer key 2022 releasing today; here’s how to download


The National Testing Agency (NTA) will today, August 30, release the provisional answer key of the NEET (UG) 2022. Candidates will be able to check and download the answer key from the official website neet.nta.nic.in.

Candidates will be able to raise objections, if any, against the provisional answer key and response sheet by August 30. A fee of Rs 200 will be applicable per challenge. The detailed information along with the procedure for the challenge of Answer Key will be informed separately.

The NTA will announce the NEET UG 2022 result on September 7.

The NEET-UG 2022 exam was conducted on July 17 for the duration of 3 hours 20 minutes (2.00 PM to 5.20 PM). The exam is held for admission to undergraduate medical courses in all medical institutions in India.

Steps to download the answer key 2022

  1. Visit the official website neet.nta.nic.in
  2. On the homepage, click on the answer key link
  3. The provisional answer key will appear on the screen
  4. Check and download the answer key
  5. Take a printout for future reference

For more details, candidates are advised to visit the official website here.

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Abhijit Sen, economist and ex-Planning Commission member, dies at 72


Economist and former Planning Commission member Abhijit Sen died in Delhi on Monday night, PTI reported. He was 72 years old.

Sen suffered a heart attack around 11 pm on Monday, his brother Pronab Sen said. “We rushed him to the hospital, but it was all over by the time we got there,” he said.

Abhijit Sen taught economics at the universities at Oxford and Cambridge in the United Kingdom, and at Delhi’s Jawaharlal Nehru University.

In 1997, the then United Front government made him the chairperson of the Commission on Agricultural Costs and Prices – an organisation under the Union agriculture ministry tasked with recommending minimum support prices for a range of farm commodities, according to The Wire.

Three years later, the National Democratic Alliance government under Atal Bihari Vajpayee asked him to head an expert panel on a long-term grain policy. The committee had recommended putting in place a universal public distribution system for rice and wheat, and had also recommended that the Commission for Agricultural Costs and Prices should be made a empowered and statutory body.

Sen was also a member of the Planning Commission from 2004 to 2014 during the tenure of the Manmohan Singh-led United Progressive Alliance government. He received the Padma Bhushan award for public service in 2010.

Several political leaders and academicians paid tributes to Sen and expressed grief.

Communist Party of India (Marxist) leader Sitaram Yechury said that the economist’s work and interventions benefited many lives. “Prof Abhijit Sen was a fine economist with both his head & heart in the right place,” Yechury wrote on Twitter. “…I’m sure that my friend had much more to say & contribute at this difficult time India is going through. His passing is a big loss to us.”

Economist and professor at the Tata Institute of Social Sciences R Ramakumar described Sen as the country’s most competent and knowledgeable agricultural economist. “The discipline will be terribly poorer without him,” he said. “Always so affable and kind with comments and advice, his departure is a deep personal loss too.”

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Speeding car loses control and skids off rain-slicked road, flips over into field


A speeding car suddenly overturned near Linga on the #Chhindwara#Nagpur highway passing through #MadhyaPradesh, causing minor injuries to the occupants. In the video it is seen that the car suddenly became uncontrollable due to rain water on the road & left the straight road. pic.twitter.com/pwHiC0OHBh

— Praveen Mudholkar (@JournoMudholkar) August 28, 2022

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Serena cruises into second round; Tsitsipas, Halep stunned


Serena Williams delayed her farewell to tennis on an electrifying opening night at the US Open on Monday as the sporting icon battled to victory in front of a star-studded crowd.

The 23-time Grand Slam winner – who earlier this month signalled she plans to retire from tennis after the tournament – drew on all of her experience to down lowly ranked Montenegrin opponent Danka Kovinic 6-3, 6-3.

A galaxy of celebrities ranging from Hollywood stars, fashion icons and former presidents were out in force at Flushing Meadows’ Arthur Ashe Stadium to watch could have been Williams final appearance in a Grand Slam singles match.

But the 40-year-old ensured that her legions of fans will have at least one more chance to savor her talents as she dug out victory despite an error-strewn display.

“I feel so comfortable on this court and in front of everyone here,” a jubilant Williams said after her victory.

“The crowd was crazy – they really helped pull me through. I was really pumped,” added Williams, who won the first of her Grand Slam titles in the same arena in 1999 as a 17-year-old prodigy.

Williams admitted that deciding to walk away from the sport after 27 years as a professional was “such a hard decision.”

“I think when you are passionate about something it is always hard to walk away,” she said. “I have been trying to decide what to do. I love this game.

“But I was just like ‘Alright, I think now’s the time’. I have a family, there’s other chapters in life. I call it evolution.”

Williams later refused to be definitive about her retirement however when asked if the US Open would be her last tournament, teasing the possibility that she may yet play on.

“I’ve been pretty vague about it, right?” she said. “I’m going to stay vague because you never know.”

A sell-out crowd of 23,500 had roared its appreciation for Williams as she strode into the arena wearing a striking sparkling bodice and black skirt comprised of six layers – one for every US Open title she has won.

The roll-call of A-listers on hand for the occasion included former US President Bill Clinton, Vogue editor Anna Wintour, former heavyweight champion Mike Tyson, tennis legend and Hollywood stars such as Hugh Jackman and Queen Latifah.

Williams acknowledged that leaving the spotlight – whenever that is – would be a wrench.

“The more tournaments I play, I feel like the more I can belong out there,” she said. “That’s a tough feeling to have, to leave knowing the more you do it, the more you can shine.”

Tsitsipas stunned

In other women’s draw action on Monday, former world number one Simona Halep, seeded seventh, was the biggest casualty in the first round, crashing out 6-2, 0-6, 6-4 to Ukrainian qualifier Daria Snigur.

But there were no such problems for US teenager and 12th seed Coco Gauff, who cruised past France’s Leolia Jeanjean 6-2, 6-3.

Meanwhile the men’s draw got under way with a stunning upset for Greek fourth seed Stefanos Tsitsipas, who was bundled out by Colombian qualifier Daniel Elahi Galan 6-0, 6-1, 3-6, 7-5.

Earlier, Russia’s defending champion Daniil Medvedev routed Stefan Koslov of the United States in the top half of the draw.

The Russian comfortably dispatched world No.111 Kozlov 6-2, 6-4, 6-0 in 2hrs 1min.

Medvedev, bidding to become the first man to defend the US crown since Roger Federer retained the title in 2008, faces France’s Arthur Rinderknech in the second round.

Britain’s Andy Murray, another veteran well into the twilight of his career, marked the 10th anniversary of his maiden Grand Slam win with a straight sets defeat of Argentinian 24th seed Francisco Cerundolo.

The 35-year-old Scot showed no signs of recent cramping problems in a 7-5, 6-3, 6-3 win, but admitted afterwards: “It felt like five sets.”

It was Murray’s first straight sets win at a Grand Slam event since 2017.

Elsewhere Monday, Wu Yibing claimed a piece of history in the men’s draw, becoming the first man from China to win a Grand Slam singles match since 1959.

The qualifier upset Georgia’s 31st seed Nikoloz Basilashvili 6-3, 6-4, 6-0.

But there was agony for China’s other player in the men’s draw, Zhang Zhizhen who squandered seven match points in a 3-6, 6-7 (4/7), 7-6 (11/9), 6-1, 6-4 defeat to Tim Van Rijthoven of the Netherlands.

Spain’s Rafael Nadal, chasing a fifth US Open crown and 23rd Grand Slam title overall, begins his campaign on Tuesday against Australia’s Rinky Hijikata.

US Open results on Monday (x denotes seed; players representing Russia and Belarus are banned from competing under the name or flag of their countries):

Men’s singles first round

Daniil Medvedev (x1) bt Stefan Kozlov (USA) 6-2, 6-4, 6-0

Arthur Rinderknech (FRA) bt Quentin Halys (FRA) 4-6, 7-6 (7/4), 6-3, 6-2

Nuno Borges (POR) bt Ben Shelton (USA) 7-6 (8/6), 3-6, 7-6 (7/5), 6-7 (8/10), 6-3

Wu Yibing (CHN) bt Nikoloz Basilashvili (GEO x31) 6-3, 6-4, 6-0

Nick Kyrgios (AUS x23) bt Thanasi Kokkinakis (AUS) 6-3, 6-4, 7-6 (7/4)

Benjamin Bonzi (FRA) bt Ugo Humbert (FRA) 7-6 (7/1), 6-1, 5-7, 3-6, 6-2

Alejandro Tabilo (CHI) bt Kamil Majchrzak (POL) 6-1, 6-4, 6-7 (3/7), 6-1

JJ Wolf (USA) bt Roberto Bautista Agut (ESP x16) 6-4, 6-4, 6-4

Pablo Carreno Busta (ESP x12) bt Dominic Thiem (AUT) 7-5, 6-1, 5-7, 6-3

Alexander Bublik (KAZ) bt Hugo Gaston (FRA) 6-4, 6-4, 6-4

Christian Garín (CHI) bt Jirí Lehecka (CZE) 3-6, 7-6 (7/3), 7-5, 6-1

Alex De Minaur (AUS x18) bt Filip Krajinovic (SRB) 7-5, 6-2, 6-3

Karen Khachanov (x27) bt Denis Kudla (USA) 3-6, 6-1, 6-2, 6-2

Thiago Monteiro (BRA) bt Alex Molcan (SVK) 6-4, 4-6, 6-4, 6-1

Jack Draper (GBR) bt Emil Ruusuvuori (FIN) 6-4, 6-3, 6-3

Felix Auger-Aliassime (CAN x6) bt Alexander Ritschard (SUI) 6-3, 6-4, 3-6, 6-3

Daniel Elahi Galan (COL) bt Stefanos Tsitsipas (GRE x4) 6-0, 6-1, 3-6, 7-5

Jordan Thompson (AUS) bt Lorenzo Sonego (ITA) 2-6, 1-6, 6-2, 6-4, 6-4

Alejandro Davidovich Fokina (ESP) bt Yoshihito Nishioka (JPN) 6-3, 7-5, 6-3

Marton Fucsovics (HUN) bt Maxime Cressy (USA x30) 6-7 (4/7), 7-5, 5-1 – retired

Andy Murray (GBR) bt Francisco Cerundolo (ARG x24) 7-5, 6-3, 6-3

Emilio Nava (USA) bt John Millman (AUS) 7-6 (9/7), 4-6, 7-6 (7/4), 1-6, 6-1

Hugo Grenier (FRA) bt Tomas Etcheverry (ARG) 4-6, 6-2, 6-3, 6-4

Matteo Berrettini (ITA x13) bt Nicolas Jarry (CHI) 6-2, 6-3, 6-3

Brandon Holt (USA) bt Taylor Fritz (USA x10) 6-7 (3/7), 7-6 (7/1), 6-3, 6-4

Pedro Cachín (ARG) bt Aljaz Bedene (SLO) 6-4, 6-3, 5-7, 1-6, 7-6 (10/6)

Corentin Moutet (FRA) bt Stan Wawrinka (SUI) 6-4, 7-6 (9/7) – retired

Botic van de Zandschulp (NED x21) bt Tomas Machac (CZE) 3-6, 7-6 (7/3), 6-1, 3-6, 7-5

Tommy Paul (USA x29) bt Bernabe Zapata Miralles (ESP) 4-6, 6-3, 2-6, 6-0, 7-5

Sebastian Korda (USA) bt Facundo Bagnis (ARG) 5-7, 7-6 (7/3), 7-5, 6-1

Tim Van Rijthoven (NED) bt Zhang Zhizhen (CHN) 3-6, 6-7 (4/7), 7-6 (11/9), 6-1, 6-4

Casper Ruud (NOR x5) bt Kyle Edmund (GBR) 6-3, 7-5, 6-2

Women’s singles first round

Daria Snigur (UKR) bt Simona Halep (ROM x7) 6-2, 0-6, 6-4

Rebecca Marino (CAN) bt Magdalena Frech (POL) 6-2, 6-3

Anna Karolina Schmiedlova (SVK) bt Nadia Podoroska (ARG) 6-3, 6-2

Zhang Shuai (CHN) bt Jil Teichmann (SUI x30) 6-4, 6-2

Madison Keys (USA x20) bt Dayana Yastremska (UKR) 7-6 (7/3), 6-3

Camila Giorgi (ITA) bt Anna Bondar (HUN) 4-6, 6-3, 6-1

Gabriela Ruse (ROM) bt Daria Saville (AUS) 3-6, 6-2, 6-4

Coco Gauff (USA x12) bt Leolia Jeanjean (FRA) 6-2, 6-3

Beatriz Haddad Maia (BRA x15) bt Ana Konjuh (CRO) 6-0, 6-0

Bianca Andreescu (CAN) bt Harmony Tan (FRA) 6-0, 3-6, 6-1

Anna Kalinskaya bt Rebecca Peterson (SWE) 6-4, 6-3

Caroline Garcia (FRA x17) bt Kamilla Rakhimova 6-2, 6-4

Alison Riske (USA x29) bt Eleana Yu (USA) 6-2, 6-4

Maria Camila Osorio (COL) bt Ann Li (USA) 1-6, 6-3, 6-1

Wang Xiyu (CHN) bt Diane Parry (FRA) 5-7, 6-3, 6-3

Maria Sakkari (GRE x3) bt Tatjana Maria (GER) 6-4, 3-6, 6-0

Ons Jabeur (TUN x5) bt Madison Brengle (USA) 7-5, 6-2

Elizabeth Mandlik (USA) bt Tamara Zidansek (SLO) 5-7, 7-6 (7/3), 6-4

Viktoria Kuzmova (SVK) bt Sara Sorribes Tormo (ESP) 6-3, 6-4

Shelby Rogers (USA x31) bt Arantxa Rus (NED) 3-6, 6-3, 6-4

Veronika Kudermetova (x18) bt Donna Vekic (CRO) 7-5, 6-3

Maryna Zanevska (BEL) bt Coco Vandeweghe (USA) 6-1, 7-5

Dalma Galfi (HUN) bt Nuria Parrizas Diaz (ESP) 6-4, 6-3

Harriet Dart (GBR) bt Daria Kasatkina (x10) 7-6 (10/8), 1-6, 6-3

Leylah Fernandez (CAN x14) bt Océane Dodin (FRA) 6-3, 6-4

Liudmila Samsonova bt Sara Bejlek (CZE) 6-3, 6-1

Aleksandra Krunic (SRB) bt Elina Avanesyan 6-4, 6-4

Barbora Krejcikova (CZE x23) bt Fernanda Contreras Gomez (MEX) 6-0, 6-4

Evgeniya Rodina bt Martina Trevisan (ITA x27) 7-5, 6-1

Ajla Tomljanovic (AUS) bt Karolína Muchova (CZE) 6-3, 7-6 (7/5)

Serena Williams (USA) bt Danka Kovinic (MNE) 6-3, 6-3

Anett Kontaveit (EST x2) bt Jaqueline Cristian (ROM) 6-3, 6-0

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Why claims about a ‘government agent’ in the company should worry all Indians


A Twitter whistleblower’s allegations that the Indian government forced the company to hire at least one individual who was a government agent and had access to user data should be taken seriously, warn experts in the technology and policy sectors.

Given the enormous access technology giants like Twitter have to user data, a leak to a state or a rogue actor can undermine organisations that the government finds inconvenient. It can also endanger the personal safety of users, especially those viewed as political dissidents or those who belong to minority groups, say experts.

The claims about the Indian government were made by former Twitter security chief Peiter “Mudge” Zatko to the United States Securities and Exchange Commission and the Department of Justice, according to a leaked disclosure reported by The Washington Post on August 23.

Amidst a host of other allegations about lax security at Twitter, Zatko said that the platform’s transparency reports did not “disclose to users that it was believed by the executive team that the Indian government had succeeded in placing agents on the company payroll”.

Zatko has submitted a separate disclosure including details and documentation of these incidents to the Counterintelligence and Export Controls within the National Security Division of the US Department Of Justice, and to the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence.
Zatko has submitted a separate disclosure including details and documentation of these incidents to the Counterintelligence and Export Controls within the National Security Division of the US Department Of Justice, and to the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence.

The disclosure added: “By knowingly permitting an Indian government agent direct unsupervised access to the company’s systems and user data, Twitter executives violated the company’s articulated commitments to its users.”

Other countries that were able to pressure Twitter to hire local full-time employees are Nigeria, which banned the platform in 2021, and Russia, Zatko alleged.

Zatko was hired by co-founder and former chief executive officer of Twitter Jack Dorsey in late 2020. A well-known hacker, Zatko has worked with both the US government and with the industry. At Twitter, he was tasked with improving the company’s security and protecting its user data.

“I joined Twitter because it’s a critical resource to the world,” he told The Washington Post. “All news seems to be either from Twitter or goes to Twitter for the colouring and context, and as such, it not only paints public opinion, it can change governments.”

Twitter whistleblower Peiter “Mudge” Zatko. Credit: US federal government/Handout via Reuters

But, said Zatko, the company’s inadequate security measures have resulted in hacks. Twitter was unable to protect sensitive user data and gave into demands by foreign powers that affected the national security of the US, he claimed.

Saudi Arabia provides an example of how private data could be misused. Earlier this month, two former Twitter employees were charged and one found guilty of spying on behalf of the kingdom.

The men had been offered cash and luxury goods in return for sharing personal information like birth dates, email addresses, and phone numbers of Twitter users – including critics of the Saudi Arabian government.

One of the implicated Twitter employees, an associate of Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, was able to access information of a prominent dissident Omar Abdulaziz. Abdulaziz was close to journalist Jamal Khashoggi who was assassinated in 2018.

Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi (left) and Saudi Arabia’s crown prince Mohammed bin Salman. Credit: Mohammed Al-Shaikh, Oscar Del Pozo/AFP

Reactions in India to Zatko’s complaint have ranged from outrage to indifference. But security researchers emphasise that it is important for users to take note of his disclosures because the private data of activists, protestors and minorities might be at risk.

Can user data be exploited?

Security researcher Anand Venkatanaryanan said it may never be possible to understand the true extent of data collected by digital platforms.

According to Twitter, it collects the following information about its users:

  1. Name
  2. Username
  3. Age and birth date
  4. Gender
  5. Email address
  6. Phone number
  7. IP address
  8. Browser type and mobile devices used to access Twitter
  9. Operating system
  10. Login history and locations from which a user has accessed Twitter
  11. Account activity
  12. Account creation details
  13. Profile location
  14. Apps connected to an account
  15. Accounts a user has muted or blocked
  16. Data on a user’s interests is based on what kind of content and people they engage with.
  17. Tweets that a user has posted and private messages they have sent or received.

However, Venkatanaryanan said that even Twitter does not know what kind of data it collects. “They collect some parts of the data themselves,” he said. “Rest of it is gathered by their ad engine, which collects data from hundreds of sources.”

Venkatanaryanan said it will be unclear which data is primary or secondary or tertiary. Additionally, platform algorithms generate “data on data”, he said. “So, you have no idea what data is being held about a particular person and in which database inside the company.”

An example of a relationship graph made using publically available Twitter data. Credit:
An example of a relationship graph made using publically available Twitter data. Credit: Marc_Smith, CC BY 2.0, via Flickr.

Simply put, data extraction is not just limited to what users knowingly share. This data is added to the information gathered from a user’s contacts, people they engage with and their interests. Anyone with access to all the data Twitter collects would be able to create a “relationship graph” and map their life – their likes, dislikes, interests, habits, location, friends, family and much more. This would help them even monitor a user’s actions and movements.

“If I know your relationship graph, I know everything about you,” Venkatanaryanan said. “They are exceptionally powerful.” Such data, he said, would allow the government to “know exactly who to target to crumble a movement”.

These relationship graphs can be even better understood, he said, if there is insider access.

Zatko said that half of the company’s 7,000 employees have access to Twitter’s internal software, which allows them to look at sensitive user data. However, only hundreds of employees have access to “god mode”, which enables them to tap into the company’s core systems.

Vulnerable users

In India, experts say, a common response to news about the infringement of individual privacy is: “If you haven’t done anything wrong, you have nothing to worry about.”

But, as Prateek Waghre, policy director at the Internet Freedom Foundation, said, “It is not just about protecting yourself. Your information can be used in various ways, including making you financially vulnerable.” Waghre said those from the minority or LGBTQ+ community are at even greater risk.

Credit: Canva.

According to Waghre, there are different levels of risk. “People who see themselves as low risk do not account for the fact that others may be at a higher risk,” he said. “It shows a lack of empathy.”

Waghre said such users underestimate the risk to themselves. “You never realise you can be scammed until you are scammed. It is a difficult mindset to get over.”

Mishi Choudhary, legal director at the Software Freedom Law Center, said that the more someone knows about a user, the more power they have over them. “Personal data is used to make a variety of decisions in and about our lives: jobs, government benefits, relationships, and insurance are just a few of them,” she said. “Personal data can be used to affect our reputations and shape our behavior.”

Twitter in India

On the face of it, a lot has changed in the relationship between Twitter India and the Bharatiya Janata Party government. In 2016, Twitter India published a blog applauding Prime Minister Narendra Modi for “transforming India” through its platform and “pioneering a new wave in digital governance”. But in July, Twitter sued the Indian government in the Karnataka High Court, challenging content takedown orders.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi with former Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey in November 2018. Credit: @jack via Twitter.

In its complaint, the platform alleged that between February 2021-’22, the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology asked it to take down 175 tweets and more than 1,400 accounts.

The notices and blocking orders under contention were sent under Section 69A of the Information Technology Act, which allows the government to block public access to content in the interest of national security. But Twitter alleged that these orders do not fall under the ambit of this section of the legislation.

“Several of the URLs contain political and journalistic content,” the petition said. “Blocking of such information is a gross violation of the freedom of speech guaranteed to citizens – users of the platform.”

In February 2021, the Indian government asked Twitter to remove hundreds of accounts that had criticised its handling of the farmer protests against three new agriculture laws. When the company refused to act on its request, the government threatened prison time for some employees in India. Twitter later complied with the request.

A farmer holds the tricolor during a protest against the farm laws at Singhu border. Credit: PTI

Two months later, in April 2021, Twitter was asked to pull down accounts criticising the Indian government’s mismanagement of the deadly second wave of Covid-19. In May, after Twitter flagged some tweets by BJP leaders as “manipulated media”, indicating that they had been “deceptively altered or fabricated”, the Delhi police raided the company’s offices in Delhi and Gurgaon.

“Countries look at social media as a national security problem,” Venkatanaryanan said. “India is no different. So, if they think something is a national security problem, anything goes to get a handle on it.”

The latest Twitter transparency report (July and December 2021) reveals that:

  1. India made the maximum number of demands of any country to remove tweets by verified handles of journalists and news outlets.
  2. India accounted for 114 of the 326 legal demands Twitter received from across the world.
  3. India made a total of 3,992 legal demands to remove content, putting it among the top 5 countries in the world to do so.
  4. With 19% of the total, India came second in the number of government information requests during this reporting period. The US made the most.

On July 5, 2021, the government filed an affidavit in the Delhi High Court arguing that Twitter had lost the immunity from legal action provided to online platforms because it had failed to comply with portions of the new IT rules, which were passed that year.

In May 2021, the Delhi Police carried out searches at the offices of Twitter in Delhi. Credit: PTI.

Alok Prasanna, co-founder of the Vidhi Centre for Legal Policy, said that Twitter’s case against the Indian government “is unlikely to have a good outcome” unless the Supreme Court looks at the Shreya Singhal case again.

In its judgement in the Shreya Singhal case in 2015, the Supreme Court ruled that online intermediaries such as Twitter would only be obligated to remove content if they received an order from a court or government authority.

Choudhary of the Software Freedom Law Center, accused Twitter of playing all sides. “By filing a lawsuit in Karnataka, it can appease its users, ‘look here, we are fighting for your rights’.”

However, she added that she was certain that the platform “works very closely with the government as all companies do to accommodate their requests”. This cooperation should not be viewed just as business as usual. “Data is everything and is much more powerful than many other traditional businesses that the human race has seen thus far,” she said.

Can users protect themselves?

Waghre said that since Zatko’s disclosure showed that any potential leak or unauthorised access was internal, there is not much users can do to protect themselves. Prasanna, on the other hand, suggested that the best protection from such breaches of privacy is for users to delete their Twitter account.

Credit: Canva

Independent researcher Srinivas Kodali points out that many demands have been made in India and the US for Dorsey to encrypt Twitter direct messages.

Facebook was criticised for sharing with the Nebraska police private messages exchanged by a mother and daughter discussing how to obtain abortion pills in June, in the wake of the Supreme Court decision later that month overturning the right to abortion. The mother and daughter are now facing criminal charges.

Choudhary emphasised that data protection and security are two separate matters. “Users can do enough to be secure in their usage but what power does a citizen have against powerful tools like Pegasus or where our government insists on its agents being employed by private parties?” she asked.

Choudhary said there should be a demand for a strong law that can be implemented swiftly and effectively. “Without the right to privacy, there is no possibility of exercising any other rights,” she said.

On August 4, the government withdrew the Personal Data Protection Bill, 2019, which had been discussed for nearly five years with multiple consultations, reviews and revisions. The Bill proposed restrictions on the use of the personal information of Indian citizens by companies such as Google, Meta (formerly Facebook) and Twitter without their explicit consent.

Requests for interviews to Rajeev Chandrashekhar, Minister of State for Electronics and Information Technology of India, and Samiran Gupta, Twitter Head, Public Policy and Philanthropy, India and South Asia, went unanswered.

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