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Sleuths on drive to track Rahul-baiting on net
T.R. VIVEK  NEW DELHI | 24th Jun 2012

Congress general secretary Rahul Gandhi

ndian investigating authorities are unhappy with their US counterparts for not providing details of users of internet protocol (IP) addresses that were used to spread calumny against Congress general secretary Rahul Gandhi. There are nearly a dozen IP addresses traced back to the United States, which Indian investigators want to track down. The Sunday Guardian has learnt that of those eight pertain to individuals who have posted highly defamatory comments on Rahul Gandhi on assorted social media sites. In October last year, a page titled "Know the reality about Rahul And Sonia Gandhi" containing questionable and defamatory comments about members of the Nehru-Gandhi family surfaced on Orkut, a social media network owned by Google.

Indian investigating authorities want the United States to provide information on IP addresses that were used to spread canards against the Congress general secretary.

Other IP tracing requests from India involve the serial bomb blasts in Delhi's Gaffar Market, a fraudulent internet banking transaction, an online lottery scam case, and an online employment fraud. But the National Crime Bureau (NCB) in Washington has so far refused to provide information about the physical addresses and locations of these IP addresses. Concerned with this lack of co-operation, the Indian agencies want to sign a more binding bilateral agreement between India and the US to expeditiously share such vital information. There is a Mutual Legal Assistance Treaty (MLAT) between the two nations since 2005, but agencies such as CBI feel that the execution of request under MLAT takes so much time that crucial evidence is often lost.

A draft framework of this proposed information exchange treaty prepared by the Indian side advocates much heavy-handedness against cyber miscreants. It calls for the right to search and seizure of information processing systems, and computer data; rendering illegal material inaccessible; directing service providers to comply with special obligations, taking into account the problems caused by encryption; and interception of content data. Under the treaty India wants the US to provide subscriber information from any service provider. The subscriber details would also include the user's identity, postal address, telephone number, and billing and payment information of the suspects. Some analysts however point out that the US is unlikely to be party to a treaty that is skewed against freedom of speech and individual privacy.

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