India Protests Against US Spying

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NEW DELHI – India has ratcheted up itsresponse to mass surveillance by the US NationalSecurity Agency as revealed by whistleblowerEdward Snowden, launching a formaldiplomatic protest against what it regards ascommercial and political spying.It is learnt that around the time of a quietthree-day visit to India late last month by NSAchief Gen Keith Brian Alexander, the deputychief of mission of the US embassy in Delhiwas summoned to the ministry of external affairsover the Snowden disclosures.While South Block is tight-lipped about thediscussions, it is learnt that MEA officials clearlytold the US DCM that there were all indicationsthat NSA was not really into “meta data”collection (monitoring the volume of onlinetraffic), as was sought to be projected, but involvedin commercial and political surveillanceof India. The US side is understood to havedenied this and tried to take the temperaturedown a degree or two.US embassy spokesman Peter Vrooman,asked about the Indian complaint, declined tocomment.This is the strongest Indian reaction yetto reports that the NSA spied on the Indianembassy in Washington, permanent mission inNew York and carried out surveillance in India.Concerns about the spying programmewere first raised by national security adviserShivshankar Menon with US ambassador NancyPowell, followed by external affairs ministerSalman Khurshid questioning the NSA’s conductwhen he met visiting secretary of stateJohn Kerry in June. The acting Indian deputy chiefof mission in Washington, VinayKwatra, had taken up the issue withthe US state Department when reportsof spying on the Indian embassyemerged in July.Gen Alexander came to Indiawith a 17-member delegation in amilitary plane that was given clearanceby Delhi at the last moment.He had key meetings with Menonover the security environment in theIndian neighbourhood in the contextof terrorism and military infrastructureupgradation in the north.New Delhi is now seriously lookingat internet governance as it feelstate security cannot be left at themercy of mega corporations runningservers based in the United States.But it plans to take a measured approachtowards the NSA because theintelligence agency shared inputs relatingto terror plots against India byPakistan-based groups.