Ranjona Banerji: Damn and get your Twitter id hacked?

13 Dec,2016

By Ranjona Banerji


What has the hack into the Twitter accounts of TV journalists Barkha Dutt and Ravish Kumar, both of NDTV, proved? That hackers are clever? We knew that. That hackers can break through codes? We knew that. That these particular hackers had achieved some Great Reveal to prove that Dutt and Kumar were evil media conspirators against the Might Modi Government and thus deserved to be hacked? Ha ha ha ha ha!


These attempts by “Legion”, including the hack into the Twitter accounts of Congress leaders and followers and into that of absconding industrialist Vijay Mallya, have proved nothing more than the fact that accounts are hackable.


They have also proved that within the “legion” of BJP supporters (I am being kind to the BJP itself for now), there is apparent fear of people who raise a voice against the Modi government. These methods though are not earth-shattering and if anything, display the same sort of hit and run cowardly mentality displayed by trolls.


Both Dutt and Kumar have responded appropriately. To the supposed reveal of some of her emails, Dutt has pointed out that all the hack proves is that India’s cyber-security laws are abysmal and linked that to the Modi government’s disastrous (my word, not hers) demonetisation scheme. Ravish Kumar, being a very eloquent speaker, sounds a bit like Sansa Stark talking to Ramsay Bolton in his final moments (Game of Thrones reference, please forgive me): “My words will keep haunting you”.


There are some several ironies here. Not least that Kumar, as he has said in his blog, has not used his Twitter account for over a year. So attacking his account is pointless and possibly therefore a direct fallout of his evocative and innovative coverage of the news of our times. Kumar has been especially scathing about attempts to scotch criticism and most recently about the terrible effects of the ill-conceived demonetisation scheme (“ill-conceived” is my phrase, and one of my kinder ones).


Dutt of course is a long-time red flag for BJP supporters. Some of it springs from the Radia Tapes, some from her general demeanour, some because she is female, some because she covered the Kargil war, some because she is perceived to be close to some Congress leaders, some because she has advocated talking to Pakistan, some because she has interviewed Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley who is not a favourite with the RSS-faction of BJP supporters.


Many of these BJP supporters forget that she likened their Beloved Leader to a “rock star” during his Madison Square Garden appearance soon after becoming PM and that since the BJP was sworn in to the Centre in May 2014, she has not been very critical of the government.


Of course, the fact and consequences of hacking itself are important and not to be taken lightly. Cyber-security is a custom more honoured in the breach in this country and we have seen enough instances of this as India as tried to go “digital” with its money. What action this government is going to take when it cannot even ensure enough currency notes in the market almost 6 weeks after removing 86 per cent of India’s money from the market is an arguable point. Besides, these hackers, legion or otherwise, have not gone after the BJP and its affiliates yet, so…


Further, given the way Russian hackers went after US presidential candidate Hillary Clinton in the recent election proves that hacking can be influential as well as criminal. However, when it comes to the hacks done in India so far, there is something “me too” about all this, not to mention childish.


Now I better go and change my passwords. Ha ha ha ha ha!



Very worth reading for journalists who are bothered about journalism is this excellent piece by senior journalist and thewire.in’s Public Editor Pamela Philipose, on this government’s attitude towards the media. May explain the ever-loving loyalty of these “Legion” hackers so far:


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