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Guarding the E-Treasury from Cyber Companies

Cyber technology offers emancipatory possibilities. It also allows coercive regimes to intrude into people's privacy. The shape the internet takes will hinge, to a great extent, on how Brazil, Russia, India, China, South Africa and Japan, negotiate its structure with the Western powers.

The sudden appearance of four chapattis in collector Hopkin’s dispatch box in end-February 1857 marks the beginning of the 1973 Booker Prize winner J G Farrell’s, The Siege of Krishnapur. The chapattis signal a rebellion by the sepoys in the fictional Indian town. The scene is inspired by the surreptitious transmission of chapattis and the epidemic spread of the phenomenon that preceded the 1857 sepoy rebellion against the East India Company. In 1894, the “colonial information panic” was once again triggered when rows of mango trees were found smeared by mud plaster mixed with tufts of hair (Wagner 2013). The indigenous communication mode was used to spread the message “throughout Behar and the provinces to the East and West,” and the British were almost convinced that this was a signal for another uprising. The “mutiny-motifs” of the 20th century were as effective in mobilising people as are the videos and texts transmitted through social media networks in the 21st century. Facebook, Twitter and others are not the ultimate facilitators of “Tahrir Square” type protests or the mob that brutally lynched an ordinary Muslim in Dadri District of Uttar Pradesh for allegedly eating beef. Neither mobilisation nor messaging is an invention of mobile technology.

Primitive forms of signalling were as effective in gathering people, as are the postmodern social media platforms. The internet provides unprecedented speed to spread a rumour or signal a revolt. The flip side is that it deprives the subaltern the shelter of the “underground.” On the other hand, internet interactions produce a glut of intelligent information that is available to the state on a platter.

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