India, U.S. push to tackle mounting threats, online and offline

August 15, 2015 02:34 am | Updated December 04, 2021 11:33 pm IST - Washington:

In a fresh bid to tackle the mounting threats in cyberspace and from more traditional terrorist foes such as the Pakistan-based Lashkar-e-Taiba, senior officials from the Indian and U.S. governments came together here this week to boost collaborative efforts under the aegis of the 2015 U.S.-India Cyber Dialogue.

Even as this “whole-of-government” initiative was under way in the U.S. capital, U.S. Assistant to President Barack Obama for Homeland Security and Counterterrorism, Lisa Monaco, met Indian Deputy National Security Adviser Arvind Gupta to discuss U.S.-India collaboration against “Lashkar-e-Tayyiba and other terrorist threats.”

The latter discussion comes scarcely weeks after an alleged LeT operative was, for the first time since Ajmal Kasab of the 2008 Mumbai terror attacks, captured alive in the border region near Pakistan.

In a series of meetings on August 11 and 12, leaders from both sides appeared to define the cyber space threat in the broadest terms, including within its ambit enhanced cyber security information sharing, cyber incident management, combating cyber crime, Internet governance issues, norms of state behaviour in cyber space and even cyber security cooperation in the context of Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s “Make in India,” initiative.

Ban on porn sites

The discussion of “norms of state behaviour in cyber space,” has additional significance in the context of the Indian government’s recent announcement that it would be banning 857 websites allegedly hosting pornographic content, but then revoking this ban following an uproar on social media and elsewhere over this move’s perceived trampling on the right to privacy.

The talks may also have presented the Indian side with an opportunity to discuss questions about the U.S. National Security Agency’s global Internet and telephone communications surveillance programme, which has come under fire since whistle-blower Edward Snowden in 2013 revealed possible abuses of the programme and has generated pressure to rein in the NSA’s spying activities.

In addition to Mr. Gupta, officials participating in the cyber security dialogue included U.S. Cyber Security Coordinator and Special Assistant to the President Michael Daniel, Department of State Coordinator for Cyber Issues Christopher Painter and the Ministry of External Affairs Joint Secretary for Policy Planning, Counterterrorism, and Global Cyber Issues Santosh Jha.

The joint statement coming out of the meetings noted that in addition to the formal dialogue, the delegations met with representatives from the private sector to discuss issues related to cyber security and the digital economy, and the Indian delegation also met Deputy Secretary of State Antony Blinken.

Further, the statement announced, the two countries had decided to hold the next round of the Cyber Dialogue in Delhi in 2016.

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