Kalam urges R&AW to focus on social media

Says the intelligence agency needs to break the traditional masks of secrecy that surround the intelligence operations

GN Bureau | January 25, 2013



As the public opinion is increasingly getting shaped by discussions through social media, Dr APJ Abdul Kalam, former president of India has advised research and analysis wing (R&AW) to use social media for garnering public support and mitigate threats to security emanating from false social media campaigns.  

"The Technologies underpinning social media should be used to the advantage of unifying people for national growth and security.  This will form the major thrust of all intelligence activities and I am sure that R&AW would strive to be in the forefront of this very soon," Dr Kalam said, while delivering 7th R N Kao Memorial Lecture here on Thursday.

He said that this exercise of being present in the event dominating social media to garner support from the public and managing the social media through well-orchestrated planning would be the greatest challenge for R&AW in the years to come. 

"Governments have been brought down as in the case of Egypt and flash mobs have been motivated to conduct vandalism as in England to demonstrate the power of this media," he said.  

"Predicting cascade effects in social media and the ability to alter the outcome of such cascades and arrest them when needed or directing to them one’s own advantage requires the symbiotic convergence of not merely the technology and social sciences but also a very watchful monitoring," he added. 

For improving intelligence gathering, he said one option is to extend longstanding principles of law enforcement and surveillance to the Internet by permitting surveillance of email and other electronic data while preserving traditional safeguards on searches by government agents.

He said that information technology and the network enterprise solutions could be leveraged to develop the integrated view of all the data by every one on a need to know basis irrespective of who owns the data.

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