The portal of Central Information Commission which ought to be full of information, is dull, irrelevant and useless! Find out why
Honestly, the worst part of the Right to Information (RTI) Act 2005 is not the misuse of the Act, as most public information officers (PIOs) would have us believe, for their own convenience, but it is the shoddy, irresponsible and irrelevant website of the Central Information Commission – www.cic.gov.in.
Firstly, the look is archaic and that’s curious because it is the same National Informatics Center www.nic.in which constructs websites for all the central government departments of India. For example, the websites of the Prime Minister's Office (PMO) or the Ministry of Environment & Forests (MoEF) are far more vibrant, interactive and upload current events, notices, reports and so on.
However, the CIC website, which being the center of information for the public should ideally be the most transparent, people-friendly and information-packed, is one which is cut-off from it. Let us see how:
The first joke about www.cic.gov.in is that it gives the phone numbers of all its former chief information commissioners and information commissioners but when it comes to the present commissioners, it decides to withhold their contacts. So, does the CIC want people to contact former commissioners in case of an issue? Or are the present commissioners happy without the people contacting them? This curious decision is certainly deliberate and cannot be by an oversight. Please see under this: List of Former Chief Information Commissioners & Information Commissioners
While the RTI movement in India has been robust with innumerable success stories from all parts of the country including tiny villages, besides urban cities, the www.cic.gov.in website has its latest success story of 2008 titled `Sir, did you cut on my dam’ See here: RTI -:- Success Stories – 2008 Sir, did you get a cut on my dam?
What takes the cake is the News on RTI. The Chief Information Commission does not find any RTI news in India worthwhile for its website but finds US President Barack Obama as most relevant.
As for press clippings and press releases they are dated 27 September 2012 to 4 September 2013 (press clippings)
And 16 April 2008 to 22 November 2013 (press releases)
So when was the last important letter sent from CIC or to CIC and one which has been marked as `new?’. Well, in 2013, there was one which came from Mexico City thanking an information commissioner for attending the Transparency Week in Mexico.
The important events as per Chief Information Commission go back to an award in 2009.
See here: Chief Information Commissioner has been awarded as the 'Person of the Year' by the Skoch Summit 2009 held at India Habitat Centre, New Delhi on 23 January 2009
As for RTI presentations by the CIC, it is India’s First Chief Information Commissioner who made a presentation in 2008.
As for notifications, the latest date goes back to 2009. The latest notification is on extension of the time of the Sub-Committee for finalising the report of 2009!
There have been just five meetings held in 2014 up to July. What is interesting in this update is the minutes of meeting held on 4 February 2014. It is marked as “new”, while minutes of meeting held after that, are not even marked.
So, had there been no Supreme Court ruling pertaining to RTI since October 2013? As per the www.cic.gov.in, there has been none.
As for High Court rulings, the `newest’ ruling is from February 2014.
(Vinita Deshmukh is consulting editor of Moneylife, an RTI activist and convener of the Pune Metro Jagruti Abhiyaan. She is the recipient of prestigious awards like the Statesman Award for Rural Reporting which she won twice in 1998 and 2005 and the Chameli Devi Jain award for outstanding media person for her investigation series on Dow Chemicals. She co-authored the book “To The Last Bullet - The Inspiring Story of A Braveheart - Ashok Kamte” with Vinita Kamte and is the author of “The Mighty Fall”.)
A roundup of some of the most notable cyber attacks tied to China from the last several years
U.S.-China tensions have risen recently over suspicions of Chinese nationals infiltrating U.S. company computer systems. In late May, the U.S. Justice Department accused five Chinese military officers of allegedly hacking several U.S. companies, marking the first time the Obama administration has publicly accused China of cyber spying. The indictments came amid a string of U.S. security breaches tied to hackers in China. Here are some of the most notable cyber security breaches tied to China from the last several years.
ProPublica and The Center for Investigative Reporting, August 2014
Lizhong Fan worked for five months at the Arizona Terrorism Center with access to sensitive information on 5 million Arizona drivers — then disappeared without a trace. U.S. officials still don’t know exactly what data he took back to China. We explore how the computer engineer was allowed to work at “one of the best-run and most effective” intelligence facilities in the U.S. without the standard security vetting.
New York Times, July 2014
Unnamed U.S. officials told the New York Times that Chinese hackers breached computer networks of the Office of Personnel Management, which manages data for federal employees in March 2014. The Times noted the attack was “particularly disturbing” because the agency oversees a system containing employees’ sensitive financial information. Four months after the attack, a spokeswoman for the Obama Administration said that no personally identifiable information had been compromised.
Bloomberg Businessweek, September 2013
Defense contractor QinetiQ, which has developed drones, satellites and software used by the U.S. military, found its research had been compromised over the course of three years by members of a Chinese military hacking unit (Businessweek has a timeline of events). “We found traces of the intruders in many of their divisions and across most of their product lines,” Christopher Day, who was hired twice by QinetiQ to investigate the intrusions. “There was virtually no place we looked where we didn’t find them.”
New York Times, February 2013
A Shanghai-based hacking group tied to the People’s Liberation Army in China has orchestrated more than 140 attacks on U.S. companies including Coca-Cola and Lockheed Martin, according to a 60-page study on the group by security firm Mandiant. Embassy officials denied that China’s government was involved with hacking, and an official with the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs called the allegations “unprofessional.” But Rep. Mike Rogers (R-Mich.) told the Times said Mandiant’s findings were “completely consistent with the type of activity the Intelligence Committee has been seeing for some time.” The story features a graphic breakdown of the types of industries apparently targeted by the hacking collective over time.
New York Times, January 2013
The Times reported that Chinese hackers allegedly infiltrated their networks over four months, beginning in September 2012, setting up back doors to user computers and eventually obtaining access to usernames and passwords for every Times employee. The initial breach coincided with the newspaper’s publication of a story about the relatives of Chinese prime minister Wen Jiabao.
According to the Times, Bloomberg News computers were targeted (though not breached) under similar circumstances in 2012. After the Times report, the Wall Street Journal and The Washington Post also reported having been targeted by suspected Chinese hackers.
The Wall Street Journal, December 2011
A group of hackers in China compromised computer networks at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, according to the WSJ. Chamber officials told the newspaper “internal investigators found evidence that hackers had focused on four Chamber employees who worked on Asia policy, and that six weeks of their email had been stolen.” The “complex operation” was detected and shut down in May 2010, the newspaper reported.
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