M A I N   N E W S

India to share Net proof with Pak
Much of offensive content leading to N-E exodus came from Pakistan; 270 sites blocked 
Ajay Banerjee/TNS

New Delhi, August 20
India on Monday said it would share with Pakistan evidence on the involvement of elements on its soil to whip up communal sentiments, even as a technical probe found that many doctored images were uploaded on social media networking sites in the neighbouring country. 

Coming down on offensive morphed images and videos posted on websites, blogs and social networking sites such as Facebook and Twitter, the Union Ministry of Home Affairs today ordered blocking of over 270 such sites and blogs, most of them hosted from Pakistan. Already, access to 130-odd such sites has been blocked and the rest will be done by tonight, officials said. 

Earlier in the day, Pakistan had rejected as "baseless and unfounded" India's assertion on the involvement of elements there in posting morphed images on the Internet in a bid to fan communal tensions and asked New Delhi to provide evidence in this regard.

India has also shared information with the US regarding the offensive material, since a large number of social networking websites are headquartered in the US and their parent web-servers are located there. 

New Delhi and Washington have an existing Memorandum of Understanding on cooperation between the Computer Emergency Response Team (CERT) of the Indian and US, which share real-time information sharing on matters of homeland security. The cooperation is part of the strategic dialogue initiated three years ago.

Some 38 per cent of offensive content in circulation had originated from Pakistan and was created by elements there. A hardline group is believed to be responsible for the uploads that fanned communal disharmony in India. The content and photos are identical and have been uploaded from Internet Protocol (IP) addresses that have a history of previously having posted Internet content to each other, sources said. 

Photos of victims of a cyclone in Myanmar and an earthquake in Tibet have been presented as “atrocities” committed on Muslims by ‘Cheenis’ (a derogatory slang used to describe people with Mongoloid facial features). This was aimed at whipping up a communal frenzy against people of North-East origin living in cosmopolitan cities such as Mumbai, Bangalore, Hyderabad, Pune and Chennai. 

Indians who forwarded this material or re-posted it on their websites, blogs and Facebook are being tracked down to check whether they were part of some cross-border design. All the guilty in India will be booked under relevant sections of the IPC, officials said.

Union Home Secretary RK Singh was circumspect when asked whether Pakistan-based extremist organisations were involved in creating and circulating the offensive photos.

“At present we cannot say who is behind it. To say or deny whether a particular extremist organisation was or wasn't (behind it) is difficult at this stage. However, some photographs have names and photographs of one or two (Pakistani) organisations," he said.

The government will take up the CERT findings at the international forum. This is the biggest instance of cyber warfare on India in recent times. 

India will present the evidence to Pakistan, as locating an IP address is not very difficult. The neighbours are part of the same Regional Internet Registry (RIR), a governing body responsible for administration of Internet addresses in a specific geographic region. In this case, the Asia-Pacific Network Information Centre is based at Brisbane, Australia. Typically, an RIR has a mandate to control the allocation and distribution of IP addresses and domain registrations.





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