Monthly Archives: October 2010

Self Defence In Indian Cyberspace

In the present e-surveillance scenario of India, at least two things are very clear. First is that the Government of India is not going to enact any law(s) regarding Data Protection and Privacy Protection in India. This is because the moment it enacts these laws, it cannot engage in illegal and “Unconstitutional” e-surveillance activities as it has been doing presently. The second is that it would further increase its e-surveillance activities in the near future with Projects like Aadhar/UID Project, NATGRID, CCTNS, etc.

Now the service providers like ISPs, Telecom companies, Google/Gmail, Skype, Blackberry, etc have to either accept the Indian Government’s demands or they must cease to carry on their operations in India. Obviously, all of them have accepted the first choice and are “Cooperating” with Indian Government.

India does not have any “Lawful Interception Law”. All it has is the “Unconstitutional” provisions of the Information Technology Act 2000 (through IT Act 2008 Amendments). Through these amendments, the Cyber Law of India has been made an “Instrumentality” of e-surveillance in India. There are no procedural safeguards that can prevent the illegal and unconstitutional e-surveillance activities in India.

The only recourse for Indians in such circumstances is to use “Self Defence” and prevent the illegal and unconstitutional encroachment upon their “Civil Liberties” like Right to Privacy. You can do the following:

(1) Use disposable e-mails to avoid e-mail surveillance,

(2) Use Safeguards like TOR against illegal Internet eavesdropping and sniffing

(3) Use TOR for instant messaging (IM) and mobile phones for private and secure conversations,

(4) For Blackberry users and those believing in a good combination of Privacy and Security, use Pretty Good Privacy (PGP) along with any good smart phone. This way you can have a better and e-surveillance free mobile infrastructure than the future controversial Blackberry phones.

(5) Use Enigmail for encrypted e-mails,

(6) For card holders, do not give your “Biometric Details” to Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI). This way your private and crucial details cannot be used for “Unconstitutional Projects Databases” like NATGRID, AADHAR, CCTNS, etc.

These are just “Basic Level Safeguards” and much more are possible and would be discussed subsequently.

Protecting Civil Liberties In Indian Cyberspace

The crucial balance and equilibrium proposed by the founding fathers of Indian Constitution has been disturbed by the Executive branch of Indian Constitution. The Executive branch has totally hijacked the Parliamentary Role and is implementing Projects having “Constitutional Implications” without any “Parliamentary Approval”.

If Projects that violate the basic Human Rights and Civil Liberties like Right to Privacy are implemented without any Law and Parliamentary approval, the role of Parliament in Indian Constitution is highly debatable.

For instance, purely E-Surveillance Projects like Aadhar/UID Project, NATGRID, CCTNS, etc have far reaching and adverse consequences for the Fundamental Rights of Indians. Still the Executive did not find it fit to enact suitable laws and provide adequate safeguards against the same.

Further, “Unconstitutional Authorities” like the Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI), etc are also operating without any accountability, transparency and legal authority. Further, there is also no “Parliamentary Scrutiny” of these authorities.

With the passing of the Information Technology Amendment Act 2008 (IT Act 2008), the Cyber Law of India has been made an instrumentality of illegal, unaccountable and Unconstitutional e-surveillance in India. With massive phone taping and e-surveillance history of India, conferring such a power in the hands of Executive and its Agencies is really troublesome. In this scenario, only “Outlaws” would have Human Rights in Indian Cyberspace.

India also does not have any dedicated Privacy Law and Data Protection Law. With the proposed use of Cloud Computing and Software as a Service (SaaS) by Indian Government, more “Privacy Violations” issues would arise in future. This is more so when Indian Government cannot even curb the highly nuisance creating Telemarketing vice in India.

I firmly believe that Indian Government is not going to change its stand and we have to preserve and protect our Civil Liberties ourselves. That is why I dedicated a resource titled “Protecting Human Rights in Cyberspace” (PHRIC) to suggest “Techno-Legal Measure” in this regard.

Now with this series, I would discuss the available “Techno-Legal Measures” to defeat illegal and Unconstitutional e-surveillance by Governmental Authorities and Agencies as well as by Private Individuals. Of course, these measures are available against illegal and unconstitutional acts or omissions alone and are not available against “Lawful Interceptions” and other e-surveillance activities authorised by a proper Court of Law. A background articles for safeguarding against illegal eavesdropping and sniffing has already been provided by me and more in this regard would be discussed subsequently.