Human Rights and Civil Liberties are witnessing a precarious time where the respective Governments of various Nations are least concerned about them. Governments and their Agencies are openly engaging in Illegal and Unconstitutional E-Surveillance and Eavesdropping. Since there is no clear cut “International Obligations” on the part of our respective Governments to the contrary, these Governments are absolutely free to do whatever they want. The only solace can be found in the form of the text approved by the United Nations regarding Right to Privacy in the Digital Age.
This situation is further made worst due to Conflict of Laws in Cyberspace that allows the Nations to adopt and use their own Policies regarding E-Surveillance and Eavesdropping. Take the example of India. There is nothing like Civil Liberties Protection in Cyberspace in India. On the contrary, India is one of the most Endemic E-Surveillance Nation of the world. India has been engaging in numerous Illegal and Unconstitutional E-Surveillance Project that also without any Parliamentary Oversight and Judicial Scrutiny. The Privacy Rights in India in the Information Age have no meaning as we have no dedicated Laws in the fields of Privacy and Data Protection (PDF).
As on date, Mass Surveillance in India is omnipresent. For instance, projects like Aadhaar, Central Monitoring System, Network and Traffic Analysis System (NETRA), National Intelligence Grid (NATGRID), National Cyber Coordination Centre (NCCC), etc are E-Surveillance Projects that are not supported by any Legal Framework and Parliamentary Oversight. In fact, Vodafone has confirmed that India has been using “Secret Wires” in the Telecom Infrastructure to indulge in E-Surveillance. Indian Department of Telecommunications suppressed the whole incidence with a mere assurance of “Investigation” that never took place. As per my personal information, no “Public Report” was made available in this regard by Indian Government so far.
Intelligence Agencies like GCHQ and NSA intercepted and stored webcam images of millions of innocent Internet users. The Command and Control (C&C) Servers of Malware FinFisher were found in 36 Countries, including India. There are also strong grounds to believe that India and United States are collaborating on Illegal and Unconstitutional E-Surveillance and Eavesdropping. There is an urgent need to take up the issues of Civil Liberties Violations at the International Level among various stakeholders.
A good initiative in this regard has been taken by the Hague Institute for Global Justice. The Hague Institute has constituted a High Level Commission known as the Commission on Global Security, Justice and Governance (PDF). The official website of the Commission states that Humanity is facing unique and growing range of challenges like political violence, environmental decay, cyber insecurity and cross-border economic shocks. These issues have global security and justice implications that need urgent attention but far exceed state and global institutional capacities.
To overcome this capacity deficit, The Hague Institute for Global Justice and the Stimson Center have convened a Commission on Global Security, Justice, and Governance. The Commission also brings together a select group of eminent statespersons and public intellectuals to draft and recommend reforms in this regard that would be considered during the 70th Anniversary Summit of the United Nations in September 2015.
This can be a good opportunity to consider and debate about Civil Liberties Protection in Cyberspace by various Nations. There is an urgent need to bring Transparency, Accountability and Parliamentary Oversight of the Illegal and Unconstitutional E-Surveillance activities of various Nations, including India. The United Nations and its Affiliates/Agencies can play a pro active role in this regard.
I hope and wish that the Commission on Global Security, Justice, and Governance would consider all these issues so that Governments can behave in a “Responsible and Accountable Manner”.