HUMAN RIGHTS IN CYBERSPACE, INTERNET AND ICT ENVIRONMENT

Human Rights have many facets and are exercisable in multiple jurisdictions and environments. Originally, Human Rights were available for redressing violations of traditional wrongs and crimes. The origin and omnipresence of Internet and Cyberspace has given rise to new challenges and jurisdictions. The Human Rights like Rights to Speech and Expression, Rights to Privacy, Right to Know, Right to Information, etc have acquired new status and meaning in the cyberspace. A new branch of Human Rights in the form of “Human Rights in Cyberspace” has emerged. This aspect being of recent origin, the State all over the world is struggling hard to cope up with its impacts and ramifications.

There is no doubt about the fact that the State lacks the will and expertise to accommodate the challenging facets of Information and Communication Technology (ICT). As a result the State is trying to “impose” unconstitutional, useless, draconian and absurd laws upon the citizens and netizens.

In the Indian context, the Parliament of India is no different from its foreign counterparts. It lacks the will and expertise to accommodate the daunting demands of balancing the Human Rights with the ever increasing use of Internet and Cyberspace. The problem is that the super old politicians of India belong to the vintage era having neither knowledge nor an inclination to bring ICT to the legislative arena. The majority of politicians of Indian Parliament are above 55 years old and some are even 70 years old. It is obvious that we cannot expect good legislative work in the field of Human Rights in the ICT Environment from them. The net result is that India does not have any sort of Legal Enablement of ICT Systems in India or Legal Framework for Information Society in India.

The next best option seems to be to use the expertise of those who can do this job for the Parliament. The Parliament of India is also not willing to allow non-parliamentary members of Indian community to do the job on its behalf. As a result the defective and oppressive laws are suggested by its peoples and the same are “imposed” upon the nation. Take the example of the proposed Information Technology Amendment Act, 2008 (IT Act, 2008). It is a weak, defective and inadequate law on many counts. Still the Government of India (GOI) is forcing it upon the Indian Citizens as the GOI does not possess the capability and expertise to enact good cyber law for India. Whatever law is suggested by its own people the same is implemented with a “blind eye and deaf years”.

Another aspect that shows an indifferent attitude towards providing strong and effective Human Rights protection in Cyberspace relates to the “indecisiveness” of the GOI regarding “notification” of the laws enacted by it. For instance, the IT Act, 2008 has sill not been “notified” despite the fact that it received the assent of President of India on 5th February 2009. This shows that the GOI is not “confident” of its own actions and regulations in this regard. A strong, committed and dedicated Government would either notify the enacted Acts or it would come out openly and declared that the Act would be “reformulated suitably”. There is no room for “diplomacy” in law making that GOI is presently following. In my suggestion, the GOI must come out openly and declare that it would reformulate the IT Act, 2008 with better, strong and effective provisions. Otherwise Human Rights would keep on looking for a saviour to protect them from State excesses.