Amit Varma writes about an initiative of the Mumbai police that would cause such distress in the population that the terrorists may be popping champagne:
A few days ago, Mumbai’s police revealed their plans to install keystroke loggers in Mumbai’s cyber cafes, besides imposing licensing requirements on them.
This is done ostensibly to fight terrorism, and here are the implications for you and me. Whenever we surf from a Mumbai cyber café, everything we type will automatically be captured on record. Our email passwords, every message we type, the sites we visit, the pictures we download: everything will be stored in police records, rendering us, effectively, naked in their eyes.
However, things might actually turn out a lot happier for everybody, if you carefully consider the implications.
If the police enforce it aggressively, it might popularize:
- OpenID, thus avoiding login at individual sites. I shall provide a low cost OpenID service with a mouse activated onscreen keyboard. :-) Yes, with randomized layouts, in case mouse trails are also logged.
- Skype and other voice and video services.
- The sign language over Skype. Thus making communication easier for the hearing impaired in the non-virtual world, with wider benefits to society.
- Touch screens, light pens and other types of digitizers.
Cyber cafes might vertically separate into two business lines:
(a) WiFi service providers, and
(b) laptop renting services.
This is to be welcomed. Internet cafes forcing you to rent their outdated PC's, or regular cafes renting their expensive WiFi are both unholy economic alliances.
The credit card companies would have to smarten up and improve security, if they wish to survive. No citizen groups could have forced them to do it, without this initiative by the police.
With so many things to look forward to, we really need to worry about any rearguard action to derail the scheme.
Two likely groups of spoilsports are:
- The policemen, who'd refuse order to scan the cyber logs. And I don't blame them because it would be the most extreme form of torture. How many million lines of "hi, wassup?" can anybody endure?
- The lawyers, who might have it declared against the law.
Whatever, there's sure to be fun in days to come.