Author Archives: Praveen Dalal

Indian Cyber Law And Telegraph Act Should Be Immediately Repealed And Reenacted By Parliament

PRAVEEN-DALAL-MANAGING-PARTNER-OF-PERRY4LAW-CEO-PTLB1What exactly is the role of Parliament? The most common answer would be to enact Laws from time to time. However, Parliament also has a role to not only weed out outdated Laws but also to repeal and reenact “Constitutionally Sound Laws”. If Parliament allows Outdated and Unconstitutional Laws to continue that would create Chaos and Anarchy and question the very concept of “Separation of Power in India”.

In the Indian context, we have thousands of Laws that were enacted during the British rule. Now they have well served their purpose and they should not be part of Indian Laws. However, they are still alive on the Indian Statute books only to be declared Unconstitutional in many decades of legal proceedings.

Surprisingly, Indian Parliament is not at all interested in passing “Dedicated and Constitutional Laws” in the fields of Privacy, Data Protection (PDF), Unique Identification Cards (Aadhaar), Central Monitoring System (CMS), Telephone Tapping And Surveillance Laws in India, Cyber Security, Cyber Forensics, E-Discovery, E-Governance, E-commerce, etc.

Instead, Parliament has “Abdicated its Duties” and has allowed the Indian Executive to take its role through issuing various “Executive Orders”. For instance, Authorities like Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI), National Intelligence Grid (NATGRID), etc are functioning in an “Unconstitutional Manner” simply on the basis of Executive Orders. What is worst is that the Indian Government has been “Luxuriously Spending” the hard earned “Public Money” on these “Unconstitutional Authorities and Projects”.

One such Outdated and Unconstitutional Law that deserves “Immediate Repeal” is the Information Technology Act, 2000.  Another similar Law is the Indian Telegraph Act, 1885 that is the “Biggest Hurdle” for “Judicial Review” of Illegal and Unconstitutional Phone Tapping Directions in India. Collectively Laws like the IT Act, 2000 and Indian Telegraph Act, 1885 and Projects and Authorities like UIDAI, NATGRID, Central Monitoring System (CMS), etc are openly violating the Civil Liberties Protection in Indian Cyberspace.

It is a good time for Indian Parliament to interfere and start functioning as per the “Constitutional Obligations” under the Constitution of India. Why we always need a Tragedy or Street Dharna to push Indian Parliament to pass Crucial Laws in India. Recently, the Lokpal and Lokayuktas Act, 2011 tested the Legitimacy of Indian Parliament. The Indian Parliament was “Force” to pass the Jan Lokpal Law due to present “Political Conditions” and Street Dharnas. This is really unfortunate that our Parliament works only “Under Pressure” and “Civil Disobedience Movements”. At least for a single time, the Parliament of India must act timely and “Repeal and Reenact” the IT Act, 2000 and Indian Telegraph Act.

Privacy And Data Protection Aspects In Indian Cyberspace

PRAVEEN-DALAL-MANAGING-PARTNER-OF-PERRY4LAW-CEO-PTLB1Privacy Protection requirements are important for both Individuals and Organisations alike. There have been many attempts in India to formulate a dedicated Privacy Protection Law in India but all of them have failed so far. Thus, Data Protection Laws in India and Privacy Rights in India are still deriving their legal recognition from scattered provisions under different Indian Legislations.

One area where the Privacy and Data Protection are absolutely missing in India pertains to Cyberspace. Privacy Rights in India in the Information Age are absolutely missing in India. On the contrary there are “Fully Functional E-Surveillance Projects” that are “Actively Violating Privacy Rights” of Indian citizens.

For instance, India has launched Projects like Aadhar, National Intelligence Grid (NATGRID), Crime and Criminal Tracking Network and Systems (CCTNS), National Counter Terrorism Centre (NCTC), Central Monitoring System (CMS), Centre for Communication Security Research and Monitoring (CCSRM), Internet Spy System Network And Traffic Analysis System (NETRA) of India, etc. None of them are governed by any Legal Framework and none of them are under Parliamentary Scrutiny.

This position is not only in active violation of protections conferred under the Constitution of India but they are also violative of the recent United Nations (UN) Draft Resolution on the Right to Privacy in the Digital Age. Of course, a provision has been suggested in the proposed Privacy Law of India that Illegal Phone Tapping in India may attract Rs 2 Crore Penalty.

However, the same is just a proposal as till the Privacy Law is actually brought into force, everything remains on the “Governmental Dreamland”.  Further, the proposed Privacy Law of India is already facing Obstacles laid by the Intelligence Agencies of India. The study titled Lawful Interception- A Mounting Challenge for Service Providers and Government (PDF) provided by Frost and Sullivan has shown that Governments around the world are indulging in Unregulated and Unconstitutional E-Surveillance and Eavesdropping activities.

The status of poor Privacy and Data Protection Legal Environment in India has also been reflected in the Cyber Law Trends and Developments of India 2013 (PDF), Cyber Security Trends and Developments in India 2013 (PDF) and Cyber Forensics Trends and Developments in India 2013 (PDF) provided by Perry4Law and Perry4Law’s Techno Legal Base (PTLB).

India must not only enact dedicated Privacy and Data Protection Laws but it must also formulate E-Surveillance Policy of India and Indian Encryption Policy. As on date the Privacy and Data Protection Aspects in Indian Cyberspace are in really bad shape.

Bitcoins, Their Functionality And Legality Of Use

PRAVEEN-DALAL-MANAGING-PARTNER-OF-PERRY4LAW-CEO-PTLBDigital or Virtual Currency is gaining importance day by day. In many Jurisdictions these Digital Currencies are allowed to be used to purchase goods and services. They can also be traded for real money in real world in many Jurisdictions.

The most prominent Digital Currency of contemporary times is known as Bitcoin. Although many Jurisdictions have tried to regulate Bitcoins yet they have not achieved much success in this regard. Even the United States Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) temporary closure of the online black market Silk Road has made little effect on Bitcoins.

So what is a Bitcoin and how it works? According to Wikipedia, Bitcoin is a peer-to-peer digital currency that functions without the intermediation of a central authority. The concept was introduced in a 2008 paper by a pseudonymous developer known as Satoshi Nakamoto.

Bitcoin has been called a crypto currency because it is decentralized and uses cryptography to control transactions and prevent double-spending, a problem for digital currencies. Once validated, every individual transaction is permanently recorded in a public ledger known as the blockchain. Payment processing is done by a network of private computers often specially tailored to this task. The operators of these computers, known as “miners”, are rewarded with transaction fees and newly minted Bitcoins.

Bitcoins are stored by associating them with addresses called “wallets”. Wallets can be stored on web services, on local hardware like PCs and mobile devices, or on paper print-outs. Thefts of Bitcoins from web services and online wallets have been covered in the media, prompting assertions that the safest way to store Bitcoins is in secure paper wallets.

With the growing significance of Bitcoins, Cyber Criminals have started targeting the same. In many cases Bitcoins have been stolen by Cracking the Computer Systems, by compromising the Private Encryption Key and by using other “Innovative Methods”. The latest to add to this series is the use of Distributed Denial of Service Attack (DDOS) against the Institutions managing Bitcoins and demanding ransom for ceasing to do so.

The Technological Structure of Bitcoins is such that once they are transferred, either legally or illegally, it is very difficult to reverse the transaction. Of course, if the parties to the transaction can be identified and both of the parties agree to reverse the transaction that is still possible. But such a scenario is very rare in the present times.

Governments and Regulatory Bodies around the World are wary to deal with Bitcoins. Every attempt to label Bitcoins illegal has only kick backed. United States has just realised that if it is too harsh to the Bitcoins, the Bitcoin Infrastructure may shift to more friendly destinations like China. Besides many Countries would encourage Bitcoins to operate in their Jurisdictions as this would benefit their Economy and may damage the grip of Dollar in the World Market. The dealing in Bitcoins in India is still A “Grey Area” and it is not safe to consider it “Strictly Legal”. Till the time Indian Government or other Regulatory Authorities of India make use and dealing of Bitcoins Legal in India, the use of the same in India is at the own “Legal Risk” of concerned person or Institution.