Prabir Purkayastha’s talk focused on themes concerning global justice in an era that witnessed the events sparked by activities of individuals such as Edward Snowden. Prabir Purkayastha began by asserting that information is always available to the people, but that Snowden’s attempts provided an authentic documentation for certain facts that the US government could not deny. In this scenario Mr. Purkayastha talked about the internet and its surveillance.
Purkayastha discussed how almost all data shared on the virtual space is kept track of. For instance, all information that passes through a particular network is duplicated and sent to the American National Security Agency (NSA). One should be aware that most communications in other countries like India also goes through a similar process. For instance, major Indian telecom companies like Reliance and VSNL provide access to the US intelligence agencies. However, one should know that we can speak of ‘surveillance’ only if the information is viewed by a human agent, and not just by a machine. Towards the end of his presentation, Purkayastha provided few possible solutions that could be considered in the future.
Purkayastha claimed that a multilateral agency was required for regulating the internet, so that no single body of individuals with a particular set of ideologies would govern over the realm of this medium. He also condemned the militarization of cyber space and stated that no such activity should be allowed on the internet, in order to safeguard the internet users. He suggested that the building of a global south architecture would also aid in this process.
Purkayastha stated that legal protection had to be provided for the freedom of speech and privacy of internet users of all countries. There is also a need to migrate away from proprietary software with back doors. Finally, Purkayastha concluded by stating that there should be no snooping on each other’s citizens without a probable cause, since that would disturb global harmony.
Report: Aghil P Komban
Photography: Marina George & Samuel Buchoul
Editing: Samuel Buchoul