Creating Scare to get Cheap Publicity in Cyber Security Space
How to Manipulate Newshounds (Naive Press Reporters)
21 October 2007
Mumbai Police has informed in writing that there is no move to install any monitoring or surveillance tools, which includes Keyloggers in Cyber cafes in Mumbai. This clarification has come in response to a RTI query by the President of Association of Cyber cafe Owners (APIAP).
On August 29, 2007, Mid-day, Mumbai published a story by Vinod Kumar Menon titled – “Virtual khabris to zoom-in on terrorists”, stating that Mumbai Police is installing Keyloggers in 500 cyber cafes in the city to track down terrorists, quoting one Mr. Vijay Mukhi, claimed to be President of the Foundation for Information Security and Technology. The story further said that the Mumbai police are in dialogue with M/s Micro Technologies for procuring a software called CARMS (Cyber Access Remote Monitoring System), a powerful monitoring tool that seeks to curb cyber crime. And so on….
See the news at http://www.mid-day.com/news/city/2007/august/163165.htm
There was a hot discussion on this many blogs and news groups for atleast 2 weeks.
Based on the news, Mr. Ashish Saboo, President of Association of Public ICT Tools Access Provider (APIAP - http://www.apiap.org/), an industry association of Cyber Café Owners, asked following information from Mumbai police under The Right To Information Act (RTI) on 12/09/2007.
- What is the number of Cyber cafes registered with Mumbai police as on 29th August 2007?
- Clarify on any authorization given by Mumbai Police to the Foundation for Information Security and Technology headed by Mr. Vijay Mukhi to make public statement on policy matters or conduct inquiries on procurement of services or material for a consideration.
- Any notice issued to install a monitoring surveillance tools in each cyber café. If yes, under what clause / rule of which act / law, the notice is served.
- The nature of dialogue with M/s Micro Technologies for procuring software called CRAMS.
Mumbai Police responded with letter reference no 2622/MaAa05/2007 dated 10/10/2007 under seal and signatures of Mr. K P Gavit, ACP and Information officer (Crimes) at Mumbai Police Commissioner’s Office, Mumbai (CRPCC has a copy of this RTI response).
The response from Mumbai police is from two departments, viz (1) Cyber Crimes Investigation Cell (CCIC) and (2) Theatre Branch (TB), as below –
Query-1 : Response – CCIC says -This information can be made available from desk-10 of Theatre Branch, Commissioner of Police Compound. TB says – Mumbai Police Commissioner’s Office has given establishment letters to 38 Cyber cafés as on 29 August 2007.
Query-2 : Response – CCIC says – No authorization has been by Mumbai Police to the foundation for information security and technology headed by Mr. Vijay Mukhi to make public statements on policy matters or conduct inquiries on procurement of service or material for a consideration. TB says – This inquiry does not concern this office.
Query-3 : Response – CCIC says – No notice from this office has been issued to install a monitoring surveillance tools in each Cyber Café. TB says – We have not given any notice or enquiry of this type.
Query-4 : Response – CCIC says – No dialogue has been made by this office with M/s Micro Technologies for procuring software called CRAMS. TB says – We have no contact or dialogue with any such company.
Now, the readers are requested to compare the news report with RTI enquiry response. Mr. Ashish Saboo has done a commendable job as the President of Association of Cyber Café Owners. Though, RTI enquiry could have been more broader and sharper to seek more information, but this enquiry provides sufficient information to any person to decide the veracity of news item (of Mid-day) and make hypothesis on the motive to publish this news-item at the cost Police credibility.
Some questions remain still un-answered. Readers can make their own value judgment.
- What is the motive of Mr. Vijay Mukhi to make this type of statement?
- Can it also be attributed as surrogate publicity by M/s Micro Technologies in league with Mr. Vijay Mukhi and the reporter?
- Is the press so naïve?
- What are the credentials of Mr. Vijay Mukhi and Foundation for Information Security and Technology in the field of Information Security?
Further, the next big question will be -
- Will Mumbai Police take any action against Mr. Vijay Mukhi and/or his foundation for Information Security and Technology and/or the Mid-day to provide wrong information to public, create scare, malign the name of Mumbai police, etc.
- Will Mid-day publish a public apology and take any action against it's naive reporter?