Monthly Archives: November 2011

E-Surveillance In India

PRAVEEN DALAL MANAGING PARTNER OF PERRY4LAW CEO PTLBE-Surveillance in India is a well known phenomenon. Whether it is telephone tapping or e-surveillance and electronic eavesdropping, Indian Government has been doing it for long and to the maximum possible extent. E-Surveillance in India is a death knell to privacy in India. The truth is that we have an over zealous and e-surveillance oriented Indian government.

We have no dedicated privacy laws, data protection laws, data privacy and security laws, etc in India. On the contrary, the Cyber Law of India, incorporated in the Information Technology Act 2000 (IT Act 2000), facilitates E-Surveillance, Internet Censorship, etc “Without any Procedural Safeguards”.

Indian Government acquired itself Unregulated, Illegal and Unconstitutional E-Surveillance, Internet Censorship and Website Blocking powers with no Procedural Safeguards. The IT Act 2000 was amended through the Information Technology Amendment Act 2008 (IT Act 2008) and this amendment gave Unconstitutional and Illegal Powers to Indian Government and its Agencies. With the notification of the IT Act, 2008, the journey from Welfare State to a Police State was completed for India.

Instances of Website Blocking in India and Internet Censorship in India have increased a lot. What is more worrisome is the fact that E-Surveillance and Internet Censorship in India have increased without any Constitutional Lawful Interception Law in India. Lawful Interception Law in India is missing and Phone Tapping in India is done in an Unconstitutional manner.

The Cell Site Location Based E-Surveillance in India is also in contemplation. Cell Site Data Location Laws in India and Privacy issues are once again ignored in this case. However, of all E-Surveillance Project, nothing is worst than the Aadhar Project of India and its implementing Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI) headed by Nandan Nilekani.

E-Surveillance is a direct violation of Human Rights in Cyberspace in India. Human Rights in Cyberspace are Outlawed in India. Human Rights Protection in Cyberspace is urgently required. In fact, E-Surveillance Policy of India is needed so that E-Surveillance can be conducted in “Exceptional Cases and Constitutional Manner only”.

If Unconstitutional E-Surveillance and Phone Tapping continue in India, Self Defense in Indian Cyberspace is the only viable option. However, there are circumstances when self defense in cyberspace ceases to exist. Further self defense against State must be always “Legal and Constitutional”.

World over Law Enforcement Agencies have been advocating maintaining a balance between Civil Liberties and National Security Requirements. India must also follow the same practice. I hope Indian Government would do the needful very soon.

FBI Mulls Fighting Cyber Crimes While Respecting Civil Liberties

Human rights and civil liberties are well known world over. However, what is not very popular is the human rights protection in cyberspace. Governments and nations across the world are not very keen in protection of civil liberties in cyberspace. On the contrary, they are actively indulging in e-surveillance, e-eavesdropping and violation of various civil liberties and human rights in cyberspace and India is no exception to this rule.

Any government that respects human rights and civil liberties must maintain a balance between civil liberties, human rights and national security requirements. Further, a sound and constitutional e-surveillance policy is also required that clearly demarcates the nature, extent, procedure, etc of using e-surveillance for national security purposes.

The United Nations must protect human rights in cyberspace more vigorously. Presently UN has not taken enough initiatives in this regard. Of course, UN has declared that access to Internet is a human right but that is far from satisfactory.

If UN believes in human rights, it must start thinking towards its new form in this Internet era. There is no reason why human rights in cyberspace must be given any lesser importance than its traditional human rights. After all human rights like right to speech and expression, right to information, right to know, privacy rights, etc are similar in cyberspace. Rather violation of human rights in cyberspace is much easier and more frequent.

In a welcome move, a positive attitude in this regard has been shown by FBI Director Robert Mueller. He said that the FBI has to stay ahead of changing threats and new technology to keep the nation safe from terrorism, espionage and cyber-attacks, but must not get ahead of the rule of law and constitutional protections.

He opined that the cyber-intrusions, be they aimed either at stealing national security systems, military technology or the private sector’s intellectual property, or at disrupting public services or the private economy, is costing the nation billions. But adhering to the rule of law remains the FBI’s guiding principle, he said, and the bureau knows it’ll be judged on how well it safeguards the liberties for which it is fighting.

This attitude and mentality must be adopted by all the law enforcement agencies of the world, including India. Till human rights in cyberspace are not respected and protected, the fight against cyber crimes would always remain biased and incomplete.