Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Do We Have Separation Of Powers In India Anymore?

India is perhaps the only country of the World whose Agencies and Instrumentalities are working without any law supporting their existence. Whether it is the Aadhar Project/ UID Project, Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI), Intelligence and Law Enforcement Agencies of India, etc none of them are “Practically Governed” by any Legal Framework and Parliamentary Scrutiny.

Surprisingly, India has a long and unpardonable history of clinging to antique and colonial laws like Indian Telegraph Act. It is beyond any reasonable doubt that laws like Telegraph Act do not serve the present purposes of lawful interception in India.

In the absence of a Constitutionally Valid Lawful Interception Law in India, companies like Google, Skype and Blackberry can legally refuse to part with any information regarding its users citing absence of a lawful interception law on the one hand and protecting its users’ Privacy on the other hand.

Unfortunately, Blackberry’s maker Research in Motion (RIM) has succumbed to Indian Government’s pressures and has openly shown its intentions to violate the Privacy Rights of its users in a “Cloud Computing Environment”. This also proves that India is still not ready for a cloud computing environment. Fortunately, Google has rightly rejected Indian Government’s possible demand well in advance citing privacy reasons.

India is deliberately escaping from enacting suitable Privacy Laws and Data Protection Laws. Further, since the Colonial Laws like Telegraph Act serve the purpose of Indian Government, it is abstaining from enacting suitable and timely Legislations.

However, of all Illegal and Unconstitutional Projects nothing can match the Violating Limits of Aadhar Project and UDIAI. With “Biometric Information” as its base and core components, Indian residents have virtually surrendered their Privacy Rights in the hands of a Regime and Government that cannot be trusted at all in this regard. That is why there is an urgent need of Robust, Effective and Constitutionally Sound Legal Framework in this regard.

In these circumstances it can be safely said that Indian Parliament is slightly better than a non operational one. It does not conduct any relevant business these days and even if it does not operate at all, not much difference would be there. Are Indian Parliamentarians listening or has Indian Constitution been “Bypassed” for surrendering all its “Constitutional Powers” to its Executive Branch and Bureaucrats? Perhaps, the concept of “Separation of Power” no longer exists under Indian Constitution.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Security And National Interest: What A Joke By Vodafone India

At last I got some insight about the “Reverification Drive” of Department of Telecommunication (DOT) India and mobile service providers like Vodafone. A person named Rahul Sindwani of Customer Care, Vodafone, finally contacted me to explain the rationale for unilateral disconnection exercise of mobile services of Vodafone India in the name of “Reverification”.

He informed that as per DOT guidelines they have instructions to disconnect all cellular connections, whose documentation is found non-complaint by the “authorities”. Now this is interesting on at least two counts. First, Vodafone has passed the buck upon DOT India for this whole mess. Secondly, who are these “Authorities” that see whether the documents in question are complaint or non complaint? Is it DOT, India or the Security and Intelligence Agencies?

It also raise an important question that if complete and proper documents in question have already been submitted at the time of getting connection, why Vodafone/DOT are again asking for the same? Without knowing who checked our documents and what deficiencies, if any, have been found by them, it is very difficult to believe the argument of DOT/Vodafone regarding lack of proper documentation. Perhaps, it is high time for a Right to Information Application (RTI Application) against DOT/Vodafone.

Vodafone also played the classic card of “Security” and “Public Interest” for this whole mess. Where is “Public Interest” in harassing law abiding and honest citizens and what “Security” purposes it is going to serve?

Meanwhile, I have once again communicated with Vodafone and asked for further details like the rationale for resubmission of documents, by whom my documents have been analysed, who are the authorities that analyses the documents, how would Vodafone indemnify the users whose documents have been misused and why should not a Consumer Case and Civil Proceeding be started against Vodafone.

I hope I would get some good, concrete and logical answers this time and not another eye wash response by Vodafone. Of course, the option of filing an RTI Application to elicit truth is always available to me.

Analysis Of Right to Information Rules, 2010

This is my Opinion regarding the Right to Information Rules, 2010:

(1) Request for Information U/S 6(1) Of Act: A person, who desires to obtain any information from a public authority under sub-section (1) of Section 6 of the Act, shall pay an application fee of Rs. 10/- to the public authority alongwith the application;

Provided that the request for information shall relate only to one subject matter and shall be limited to two hundred and fifty words, excluding the address of the Central Public Information Officer and the address of the applicant.

Opinion: In my opinion this is a retrograde step in a backward direction. Firstly, the Proviso is limiting information seeking to a “Single Subject” only. At times subjects for which information is required are so interrelated and diverse in nature that it is neither feasible nor possible to limit them to a single category.

Similarly, the limiting of the number of words to 250 is also “Not Desirable” as it would compromise the nature of information sought. Of course, an applicant cannot ask for information in hundreds of pages but at times it becomes pertinent to ask information in many pages.

Suggestion: The Proviso is a serious “Embargo” upon information seeking and should be reconsidered.

(2) Fees for providing information: Fee for providing information under Section 4(4), Section 7 (1) and Section 7 (5), as the case may be, shall be charged at the following rates:
(a) rupees two for each page in A-3 size or smaller size paper;
(b) actual cost or price of a copy in larger size paper;
(c ) actual cost or price for samples or models;
(d) for inspection of records, no fee for the first hour; and fee of rupees five for each subsequent hour (or fraction thereof);
(e) for information provided in diskette or floppy, rupees fifty per diskette or floppy;
(f) for information provided in printed form, at the price fixed for such publication or rupees two per page of photocopy for extracts from the publication;
(g) the actual amount spent by public authority on hiring a machine or any other equipment, if any, to supply information;
(h) Postal charges, in excess of rupees ten, if any, involved in supply of information.

Provided that no Fee shall be charged under this rule from the persons who are below poverty line as may be determined by respective State Governments.

Opinion: Charging of fees on the basis of actual amount spent by a public authority on hiring a machine or any other equipment, if any, to supply information is “Not Rationale”. Every Public Authority is supposed to have “Complete Infrastructure” like Printers, Scanners, Photo Copiers, etc at its place. It would be absurd to suggest that Indian Government would not or have not yet provided the required Infrastructure to these Public Authorities.

Suggestion: This Clause need to be removed from the Rules.

Opinion: For inspection of records, no fee for the first hour; and fee of rupees five for each subsequent hour (or fraction thereof). This is a good provision and it should be implemented in “True Letter and Spirit”. In many cases there is no need of any documents or the quantity of documents can be reduced to a considerable amount, if proper inspection is allowed. This would also reduce the burden upon Public Authorities.

Opinion: The Proviso also specifies that no Fee shall be charged under this rule from the persons who are below poverty line as may be determined by respective State Governments. This is a “Very Sensible” provision and is a “Welcome Addition”.

(3) Payment of fee: Fee under these rules shall be paid by way of cash, demand draft or bankers cheque or Indian Postal Order, etc to relevant officer of the public authority. Even electronic means are also available if facility for receiving fee through electronic means is available with the public authority.

Provided that a public authority may accept fee by any other mode of payment.

Opinion: The “Modes of Payment” of fees are good to effectuated information seeking by the Applicants. Even electronic payment facility has been prescribed if the Public Authority has an infrastructure for the same. The best part of this arrangement is that the Public authority may accept fee by any other mode of payment. This is an “Enabling Provision” and Welcome Step.

(4) Admission of Appeals: (1) On receipt of an appeal, if the Commission is satisfied that it is a fit case for consideration, it may admit such appeal; but where the Commission is not so satisfied, it may, after giving an opportunity to the appellant of being heard and after recording its reasons, reject the appeal.

(2) The Commission shall not admit an appeal unless it is satisfied that the appellant had availed of all the remedies available to him under the Act.

(3) For the purposes of sub-rule (2), a person shall be deemed to have availed of all the remedies available to him under the Act:

(a) if he had filed an appeal before the First Appellate Authority and the First Appellate Authority or any other person competent to pass order on such appeal had made a final order on the appeal; or

(b) where no final order has been made by the First Appellate Authority with regard to the appeal preferred, and a period of 45 days from the date on which such appeal was preferred has expired.

Opinion: This Rule needs to be “Reconsidered” especially Sub Rule (2). It seems to be in conflict with other Provisions and Powers of the Central Information Commission under the Act.

(5) Procedure for Deciding Appeals: The Commission, while deciding an appeal may,

(i) receive oral or written evidence on oath or on affidavit from concerned or interested person;
(ii) peruse or inspect documents, public records or copies thereof;
(iii) inquire through authorized officer further details or facts;
(iv) hear Central Public Information Officer, Central Assistant Public Information Officer or the First Appellate Authority, or such person against whose action the appeal is made, as the case may be;
(v) hear third party; and
(vi) receive evidence on affidavits from Central Public Information Officer, Central Assistant Public Information Officer, First Appellate Authority and such person against whom the appeal lies or the third party.

Opinion: This is a Good Rule and it must be incorporated.

(6) Amendment or withdrawal of an Appeal: The Commission may allow a prayer for any amendment or withdrawal of an Appeal during the course of hearing, if such a prayer is made by the Appellant on an application made in writing.

Provided that such request shall not be entertained by the Commission after the matter has been finally heard or a decision or order has been pronounced by the Commission.

Opinion: This is a Good Rule and it must be incorporated.

(7) Personal presence of the appellant before the Commission: (1) The appellant shall be informed of the date of hearing at least seven clear days before that date.

(2) The appellant may, at his discretion, be present in person or through his duly authorized representative or, if permitted by the commission, through video conferencing, at the time of hearing of the appeal by the Commission.

(3) Where the Commission is satisfied that the circumstances exist due to which the appellant is being prevented from attending the hearing of the Commission, then, the Commission may afford the appellant another opportunity of being heard before a final decision is taken or take any other appropriate action as it may deem fit.

Opinion: This is a Good Rule expecially the use of Video Conferencing Facility by the Commission. Effective use of E-Governance is presently missing from RTI Act, 2005 and under other Laws and it is high time for the Government of India to make it “Mandatory”

(8) Service of notice by Commission: Notice by name to be issued by the Commission may be served in any of the following modes, namely:-
(i) service by the party itself;
(ii) by hand delivery (dasti) through Process Server;
(iii) by registered post with acknowledgement due;
(iv) by electronic mail in case electronic address is available.

Opinion: Use of E-Mail as a Mode of Service of Notice by Commission is a welcome step and good provision.

(9) Compliance of the order of the Commission: The head of a public authority shall ensure that an order passed by the Commission, unless varied or stayed by a validly passed order, is complied with and compliance report filed with the Commission within the time limit specified by the Commission, or within 60 days if no such limit is specified.

Opinion: This is a Good Rule and it must be incorporated.

CORE RECOMMENDATION: Both RTI Act 2005 and Rules made thereunder must be “Thoroughly Amended”. The RTI Act 2005 needs many “Pro Active Amendments” that would make it more Effective, Transparent and Accountable. The RTI Act, 2005 also needs to be “Reconciled” with other Laws.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Supreme Court Of India Must Expand Privacy Rights In India

Enactment of suitable Privacy Laws in India is long overdue. However, the Government of India has not considered this issue to be important enough.This is so even if Projects like Aadhar, NATGRID, CCTNS, etc may be declared to be “Unconstitutional” by Constitutional Courts of India. The matter is pending before the Supreme Court and this occasion can be utilised by it for prescribing “Stringent and Suitable” Privacy Rights Guidelines.

Few things related to 2G Scam have happened in the right perspective so far at the Supreme Court of India. The questioning of Supreme Court regarding inaction on the part of Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) India, giving due credit to the CAG’s Report, accepting Ratan Tata’s Writ Petition regarding Privacy Rights Violation, etc are some of them.

The latest to add to this list is denial of Supreme Court to issue any “Interim Relief” in the Tata’s Writ Petition and issuing of notices to open and outlook magazines which had published contents of the alleged taped conversation.

Tata had sought an interim relief for restraining the respondents from further publication of recorded conversations between him and Radia. He also sought an Injunction that would prevent the publishing and circulation of the contents of these conversations in “Any Form”. However, is it possible and does it make any difference at this stage?

The answer seems to be in Negative although Tata may not like the same. This is because contents of conversations are already out in “Public Domain” and on multiple traditional and electronic mediums and platforms. It is not possible for the Supreme Court of India or even for the Government of India to do much at this stage and in this regard.

However, one aspect has skipped the attention of all parties to the Writ Petition and even of the Supreme Court. The sole purpose of Ratan Tata seems to be to protect “His Privacy Rights” by preventing the “Disclosure and Circulation” of conversation or communication recorded through “Surveillance Methods” of State machinery. At this stage this concern and demand seems to be “Infructuous” and “Academic Purpose” only. This is because even if Supreme Court of India provides the “Relief” that Tata is claiming “In Toto”, the “Contents” of the conversation would remain on Internet and this is next to impossible to remove.

There is a blessing in disguise in Tata’s Petition. This is a golden chance for the Supreme Court of India to analyse the “Implementation” of its decision in the PUCL case (Phone Tapping Case). The Supreme Court must “Widen” the scope of Privacy Rights in India not only in the context of Phone Tapping but in an “Overall Manner”. The Supreme Court must formulate and lay down the widest possible “Guidelines” regarding Privacy Protection in India as it has done in the Vishaka’s Case (Guidelines against Sexual Harassment).

I hope this Writ Petition by Tata would come as a rescue of Fundamental Rights in general and Right to Privacy of Indians in particular. The only question that remains to be seen is will the Supreme Court of India protect Privacy Rights of Indians at large? I am optimistic and would be glad to see this outcome.

Friday, November 5, 2010

Challenges Before National Intelligence Grid Of India

National Intelligence Grid (NATGRID) is one of the most desirable Projects of India. It is essential to safeguard the National Security of India on the one hand and Internal Security of India on the other. It is also required to “Modernise” the Law enforcement Machinery of India. However, there are many challenges before the NATGRID Project before it can be finally implemented in India.

The first and foremost challenge before the Project is to provide for adequate safeguards and protections against its misuse. India has already committed a blunder by starting the Aadhar Project of India without any legal framework and necessary safeguards. As a result the Aadhar Project has not been successful at all and is facing severe criticism and opposition.

Similar opposition were raised against NATGRID Project as well and the Cabinet Committee on Security (CCS) of India asked for further “Safeguards” before the NATGRID Project can be launched in India. However, till the month of November 2010, no such safeguards have been put at place by the Home Ministry of India. This can be a serious problem for the successful implementation of the Project.

The Law enforcement Agencies and Intelligence Agencies of India are also practically governed by no law. The outdated colonial laws still govern the functioning of these agencies. Similarly, there are no privacy laws and data protection laws in India. There is an urgent need to formulate effective privacy and data protection laws in India.

Another area of concern is the growing use of e-surveillance in India. In order to effectuate its e-surveillance exercises, India has manipulated the Information Technology Act, 2000 (IT Act 2000), the sole cyber law of India, through the Information Technology Amendment Act, 2008 (IT Amendment Act 2008). There are no “Guidelines” or “Procedural Safeguards” subject to which the “Internet Censorship” and “E-Surveillance Powers” can be exercised by Indian Government and its Agencies and Instrumentalities under the cyber law of India. In fact, the present Encryption Norms and Regulations in India allow only an “Outlaw” to enjoy Human Rights in Indian Cyberspace.

Before NATGRID Project is implemented in India, it is very imperative to enact a “Lawful Interception Law”. In the absence of proper laws that respect and Safeguards and Fundamental Rights enshrined under the Constitution of India, the exercise of “Self Defence” against Indian Government and its agencies and Instrumentalities seems to be the only choice.

If Home Minister P. Chidambaram wants the Projects like NATGRID, Crime and Criminal Tracking Network and System (CCTNS), etc to succeed, he must not take a short cut and must not avoid the “Constitutional Scrutiny”. Rather he must ensure proper “Safeguards” before such Projects are launched in India.

Monday, October 18, 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.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

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.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Aadhar Project And UIDAI Must Be Scrapped

Till now it is absolutely clear that the proposed Aadhar Project of India or Unique Identification Project of India (UID Project of India) has no developmental or welfare oriented interests and intentions. The proposed Aadhar Project aims to benefit few selected IT Companies by allotting them the tenders and contracts to implement the Aadhar Project.

This seems to be another “Backdoor Method” of illegally distributing hard earned Public Money through governmental machinery. Surprisingly the opposition parties like BJP are playing deaf and dumb game and are silent on crucial issues like corruption, misappropriation of public money, violation of civil liberties like privacy rights of Indians, illegal and excessive e-surveillance, etc.

In a democratic and Parliamentary form of Government, opposition plays a pro active and constructive role. BJP and similar parties have drastically failed to fulfill this role and the Congress Party is having a clear and unfettered say for illegal and Unconstitutional Projects like Aadhar, NATGRID, CCTNS, etc.

The Nandan Nilekani led Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI) and Aadhar Project must be scrapped immediately till proper laws and adequate safeguards are at place. India does not have either Privacy Law or Data Protection Law.

If the Government of India keeps on imposing these sorts of illegal and Unconstitutional Projects upon us, we must take immediate steps to make them redundant. Let us start by saying no to the UID Cards and restrain from giving our Biometric Details.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Congress Government Of India Is Taking Anti National Steps

The Commonwealth Games debacle is not yet over and the Congress led government is about to commit another blunder. It seems Congress has lost all its control over its Ministers who are blatantly engaging in corrupt practices and maladministration.

Firstly, it was the spectrum scam now it is the commonwealth organizing committee that is clearly and unambiguously involved in corrupt practices.

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Sonia Gandhi are looking helplessly, even if they are not involved in these corrupt practices that have brought great disgrace to India. Surprisingly, they have not learnt any lesson from their past mistakes and inactions. Now the duo of Manmohan Singh and Sonia Gandhi are extending their support for another Anti National Project named as Aadhar Project of India or UID Project of India.

Both Aadhar Project and UIDAI are unconstitutional project and unconstitutional authority. Neither the Aadhar Project nor the UIDAI are governed by any Legal Framework nor are they under Parliamentary Scrutiny.

The Union Cabinet has casually granted its approval to the National Identification Authority of India Bill 2010 (NIDAI Bill 2010) with great disregard to the Civil liberties of Indians, especially Privacy Rights of Indians. Even after this approval, both Aadhar Project and UIDAI are still “Unconstitutional and Illegal”.

There should not be any action upon UID Cards and Aadhar Project till proper safeguards are at place. It seems the duo of Manmohan Singh and Sonia Gandhi has not considered this aspect. The “Constitutional Scheme” of Indian Constitution has kept the functions of Legislature, Executive and Judiciary separate. Yet the Executive are encroaching upon the regime of Indian Parliament and are implementing Projects and wasting crores of public money without “Parliamentary Approval”.

Under the garb of welfare scheme and development all sorts of irregularities and illegalities are given full support by the Congress led government. It is high time for the Congress to change the “Anti National Mindset” that is seriously damaging the reputation of India and faith among Indian masses.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Unconstitutional Identification Authority Of India

No time in the history of India, the civil liberties and human rights of Indians were at such a great stake. Illegal and unconstitutional projects like Aadhar project of India/UID project of India, Natgrid, CCTNS, etc have crossed all the constitutional limits and Indian citizens and Indian courts are just moot spectators.

The suo motu powers of Indian constitutional courts has all of sudden vanished and the courts are not finding anything wrong in allowing projects that have no legal framework and parliamentary scrutiny to back them up.

Take the case of the most dangerous of all these projects named as Aadhar project. It is headed by Nandan Nilekani as the head of unique identification authority of India (UIDAI).

However, it would be more appropriate to call the Aadhar project as Niraadhar (without any base) and UIDAI as “unconstitutional identification authority of India”. To start with, Indian citizens must say a firm and absolute “No” to the Aadhar project and giving away biometric details.

India does not have any dedicated data protection and privacy law. Even our basic telephone numbers are freely available to telemarketing companies. By making available all our personal details along with biometric information, we are heading towards a big trouble.

It is high time to go for a “mass boycott” of Aadhar project and force the Indian government to enact suitable privacy and data protection laws before any such project must be proceeded with.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

When Rights Are Outlawed, Only Outlaws Will Have Rights

Philip R. "Phil" Zimmermann Jr. (born February 12, 1954) is one of the greatest civil liberty protectors in the cyberspace. Zimmermann is the creator of Pretty Good Privacy (PGP), the most widely used email encryption software in the world. He is also known for his work in VoIP encryption protocols, notably ZRTP and Zfone.

In his rationale for creating PGP he tells that using PGP is good for preserving democracy. He believes that if privacy is outlawed, only outlaws will have privacy. This is so true not only in the context of America but also India.

India is passing through the worst era of police state and e-surveillance society. Even worst is the reliance upon American models that have failed in America itself. But Home Minister P.Chidambaram is not discouraged by these failures and he would stop only on the failure of these models in India.

Even the Department of Information Technology (DIT) and Department of Telecommunications (DOT) have joined this blind and ignorant race and are trying to ban telecommunication services like Blackberry and Skype and Internet services like Gmail.

These departments are troubled by the strong and secure encryption technology and other similar technologies that prevent unlawful and illegal e-surveillance by the government and its agencies. Criminals and terrorists are already using these, and much better options, and these ignorant actions would only trouble and violate the civil liberties of law abiding citizens alone.

All the limits in this regard were crossed when the Information Technology Amendment Act 2008 (IT Act 2008) was made an enforceable law in India. The IT Act 2008 provides unregulated, unconstitutional and illegal e-surveillance, Internet censorship and website blocking powers in the hands of Indian government and its agencies. There is no mechanism at all that can prevent the abuses of these powers and there is no accountability as well.

A time has come in India when Human Rights in Cyberspace are clearly outlawed and only outlaws (as per the norms and standards of Indian government) would have these Human Rights. This is the main reason why I dedicated a resource titled Human Rights Protection in Cyberspace (HRPIC) to those law abiding citizens who cherish and wish to protect their civil liberties in cyberspace.

With further illegal and unconstitutional projects like CCTNS, NATGRID, UID Project/Aadhar Project, etc things are only going to be worst in India. The only option remains is to use self defence against the persons, institutions and agencies that are engaging in illegal and unconstitutional e-surveillance and civil liberty violations.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Appraisal Of National Identification Authority Of India Bill 2010

The National Identification Authority of India Bill 2010 (Bill) has been recently proposed by the Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI). The Bill, if made a law, would be called National Identification Authority of India Act, 2010 (Act). Here are some of the salient features of the Bill:

(1) The Bill is still not a valid piece of legislation till it is approved by both the Houses of the Parliament, receives President’s assent and then finally notified in Official Gazette by the Government of India.

(2) The Bill is not a comprehensive one and neither has it intended to cover all the aspects of Aadhar project of India. The Bill’s main objective is to provide legitimacy to the Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI) renamed as the National Identification Authority of India (NIDAI) and for matters connected therewith or incidental thereto.

(3) The Bill has picked up many provisions of the Information Technology Act 2000 (IT Act 2000) for various issues. One of them also pertains to the extra territorial application of the Bill.

(4) The Bill is a good piece of work as far as administrative aspects of Aadhar project is concerned. However, it has almost nothing to offer regarding protecting civil liberties of Indians. Privacy issues, data protection issues, etc are missing from the Bill.

(5) By making the IT Act 2000 a base for many of its provisions, the Bill has incorporated the weaknesses and lacunas of the same. It seems the members drafting the Bill did not take pain to do some good research and formulate new and better provisions.

(6) The Bill’s greatest strength is its Public Private Partnership (PPP) Model through which it is seeking the expertise and assistance of various individuals, institutions, etc. The Bill is also great to the extent it catering the requirements of Research and Development regarding some of the most crucial aspects of contemporary times.

(7) The Bill has its own list of Offences and Penalties. The list though not adequate but if supported by different and supplementary legislations would strengthen the Bill. These provisions have been inspired by the IT Act 2000 with all its limitations and demerits.

(8) Provision regarding delegation of authority of the NIDAI is also incorporated to bring flexibility among the functioning of the authority. The only fact that has to be kept in mind is that this delegation must not be abused for private gains of private players.

(9) The provisions of this Act shall be in addition to, and not in derogation of, any other law for the time being in force. Thus, other law would supplement the provisions of this Bill and make it more effective.

In short, this is a great enabling legislation for the UIDAI/NIDAI and its administrative functions. It has taken care of most of the aspects that would allow the authority to perform its functions effectively, transparently and with accountability. Proper care has been taken to use PPP Model as well as to use the expertise of others.

On the negative side, the Act does not cater the civil liberties requirement that is also the toughest challenge before it and the first and foremost challenge for its authority. This may be due to the fact that the Act never intends to cater the civil liberties requirements and has left it for the Indian government through a separate legislation.

The NIDAI would face the challenge of “Unconstitutionality” on two counts. Firstly, the authority must be constituted by a proper law. This requirement would be fulfilled if the Bill is made an enforceable law. The second is that it must not violate the Civil Liberties of Indians. This is a tricky issues and the same has also been avoided by the present Bill. The Indian government has promised to enact laws regarding privacy and data protection very soon.

If the Bill and those laws are combined, they may take care of the constitutionality attacks and the NIDAI may proceed further for its tasks. But for the time being, both Aadhar Project and UIDAI/NIDAI are “Unconstitutional” Project and Authority.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Protecting Children In Cyberspace

Juveniles or children dealing with cyberspace requires special attention and safeguards. This necessitates both legal and technical measures to be adopted. On the legal side we must have strong cyber law to punish the offender. On the technical side we must have effective software that can prevent potential abuse of children in cyberspace.

These days children are either perpetrator or victim of cyber crimes, cyber bullying, pornography, etc. They must be made suitably aware as well as protected from these cyber threats. After all, human rights protection in cyberspace also includes protection of juvenile’s human rights.

The Human Rights Protection Centre is the “Exclusive” Centre of India that is providing suggestions and measures for the protection of human rights in cyberspace. It is supported by the Cyber Security Research Centre of India (CSRCI) for providing additional strength of cyber security.

Both these Centres have decided to extend their expertise for protection of children in cyberspace. In due course of time we would provide techno-legal solutions for protection and empowerment of children in cyberspace.

We hope this initiative of ours would prove useful for all concerned.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Why A Tragedy Is Always Needed To Wake Up Indian Parliament?

Indian Parliament is not pro active regarding making suitable laws as per the contemporary requirements. Although this lethargy is not condonable yet keeping in mind the ever happy nature of Indians this has become an acceptable practice.

However, what is not condonable is that even after continuous and incessant happening of adverse and tragic events, Indian government do nothing except making false promises or empty claims. Does it mean that Indian Parliament or Indian government always needs a tragedy to temporarily wake them up?

Indian legal system and justice delivery system has completely collapsed and is in ruins. This is despite the cozy and competitive picture shown by Indian government and Indian judiciary. The trust and respect of Indians have completely shaken for the judicial system of India that has failed to provide justice to Indians.

Times again public spirited citizens have been reminding Indian government to improve the legal and judicial systems of India but the government has failed to do so. It is only after tragic event like terrorist attacks, floods, natural calamities, episodes like Bhopal gas carnage, etc that government wakes up and decides to make proper law.

However, even such promises are mere declarations and there is no law enacted at all. This process is repeated years after years and tragedy after tragedy but Indians are all happy and contended to ask for any explanation. This may be because they have themselves elected the representatives that do not represent them at all in the legislative process of India.

I hope India would not wait for another tragedy to happen and subsequently another promise would be made that would never be fulfilled.

Friday, June 11, 2010

Security, Corruption, Myopic Vision, E-Surveillance And Indian Projects

Law enforcement and anti terrorism concerns are the sure shot formula for converting a welfare society into an orwellian state. Our Home Minister Mr. P Chidambaram is also following the same formula. He is leaving no stone unturned in this regard. Whether it is National Intelligence Grid (NATGRID) Project or Aadhar Project/UID Project, the end objective is the same, i.e. making India an endemic e-surveillance society.

India is so blinded by the concept of Orwellian State that it fails to realise what is happening to countries that have tried similar projects and have failed miserably. The only justification for sticking to these projects even if they are Unconstitutional, illegal and bound to fail can be either attributed to lack of insight or corruption. Let us discuss few failed projects of the role models on whose basis India is committing these blunders.

The Central Government is working upon a Rs 2,000-crore ambitious project titled Crime and Criminal Tracking Network and Systems (CCTNS). A similar initiative undertaken by the US Government to modernise the FBI’s crime tracking system known as the Virtual Case File failed miserably due to lack of planning and effective strategies. The same would happen in case of India.

The Cabinet Committee on Security (CCS) has put on hold the Natgrid project of India temporarily due to absence of safeguards to protect civil liberties of Indians. Natgrid is still at hold as privacy protection safeguards have not yet been established by the project coordinators.

Experience from countries like UK and US has shown that projects similar to Natgrid and Aadhar have been great failures and were ultimately scrapped off completely. These countries have learnt this hard way by spending crores of money before saying a final good bye to these projects.

For instance, recently, UK scraped National ID project as it was too expensive and an infringement of civil liberties. The Aadhar project/UID project of India would also face similar fate as it is also violative of civil liberties of Indians and is unconstitutional and illegal.

The latest to join this list is the declaration by the British Government that it will review counter-terrorism laws. This review has been triggered after it came to government’s notice that security and law enforcement forces across the country have misused the controversial powers. There is no reason why projects like Aadhar, Natgrid, CCTNS, etc would not be violated by Indian intelligence agencies and law enforcement. This is more so when they are practically governed by no law in India and have indulged in such acts in the past.

In a welcome move the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) last week presented a new set of institutional and policy practices for intelligence agencies that it said would help to improve accountability and protection of human rights in intelligence policy. It seems the entire world is moving in the direction of protection of civil liberties and India is deliberately engaging in activities that are clearly Unconstitutional and illegal.

When Mr. Nandan Nilekani joined the Aadhar Project of India, I was very happy to know that at least we have a person of character and strength who can actually accomplish the task assigned to him. I was also optimistic that he would take care of the Civil Liberties issues as well. Although he has promised civil liberties protection but he has not yet delivered any protection for the same. I hope he would not fail India and join the breed of our incompetent politicians and bureaucrats.

Mr. Nandan where is the law you promised to formulate or have been promising to formulate for months? You are more known to us by your deeds than by your words and you must leave the promise or noise culture for our politicians and bureaucrats.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

UID Project Of India Is Still Violating Civil Liberties Of Indians

Indian projects are characterised by lots of noises with no results and outputs. If this is not enough they also bring there own share of civil liberty violations teasing and making the constitutional guarantees just legal jargon. There is no sense of empty constitutional safeguards if they cannot be enforced. India is presently in full swing to ride upon and ignore constitutional rights like right to privacy.

Aadhar project of India/UID project of India has been imposed upon citizens of India by direct as well as indirect calculations and strategies. So far there is neither a legal sanctity nor a requirement based justification for hushing up Aadhar project. In fact, there cannot be any way Aadhar can be proceeded with unless there is a constitutionally sound law supporting the same.

The UIDAI realising the gravity of the situation just declared that it would come up with the concerned law. This was intended to silent the critics of Aadhar project. The fact is that till now Aadhar project is illegal and unconstitutional and the government of India is spending upon a project that is going to fail in the near future.

There is no performance appraisal, no feasibility report, no planning and coordination and still the government is willing to impose Aadhar upon Indians. By clubbing it with other projects like national intelligence grid (Natgrid), Population Census, CCTNS, etc the government has shown the real purpose and intention of the Aadhar project.

Aadhar project is nothing but a fa├žade to hide the unconstitutional acts of Indian government and its agencies. Unfortunately, even the Delhi High Court and Supreme Court of India have also failed to take a suo-motu action against this patently unconstitutional act of Indian government.

In these circumstances, it is not the right thing to give your crucial biometric details and make your privacy more vulnerable. It is better to protest against the Aadhar project right now than subsequently feeling sorry about the same.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

E-Surveillance And Internet Censorship: A Deadly Combination In India

India has not enacted adequate safeguards against e-surveillance and Internet censorship activities by its government and its agencies. On the other hand, India has now officially become an e-police state. The sole cyber law of India is incorporated as Information Technology Act 2000 (IT Act 2000) that was amended by the Information Technology Amendment Act 2008 (IT Act 2008).

The IT Act 2008 although provided draconian, unreasonable and sweeping e-surveillance and Internet censorship powers to the agencies and instrumentalities of Indian government yet it deliberately restrained from prescribing any procedural safeguards to prevent their abuses.

Recently Google released the raw estimates of governmental requests regarding disclosure of information stored by it. No surprise India occupies third position for “removal request” and fourth spot for “data requests”.

India must immediately enact a suitable legislation to prevent growing incidence of e-surveillance. India also does not have dedicated and separate privacy laws and data protection law. This is why projects like Aadhar/UID project and Natgrid Projects are fatal for the civil liberties of Indians.

The government of India is not wiling to rectify the situation. In fact the situation is getting worst as now e-surveillance activities of India are supplemented with Internet censorship acts of governmental agencies. Any dissident who has raised a voice against Indian government must be aware of the brutal censorship of his online voices. You might have wondered why your online news and search results have disappeared suddenly without any reason or explanation. This is because known agencies like Cert-In and many unknown and unaccountable agencies are actively enageged in Internet censorship the moment they see any unpleasant topic at Internet.

There is also no whistleblower protection law in India. In these situations self help seems to be the obvious choice for law abiding and constitutionally protected citizens. As an additional step, if you are a law abiding citizen and you suspect that your online transactions and acts are under surveillance you can use the techno-legal recourses mentioned at the Human Rights platform. If you are a Google search fan, you must consider using its Google SSL service that would frustrate a sniffer’s attempts to violate your privacy.

Friday, May 21, 2010

The Eagle Eyes

The outer space is an area dominated by few countries and India is one of them. India has its own indigenous capabilities to build and launch space vehicles and in many cases has supported other nations as well in their space activities.

One aspect that I firmly and strongly endorse is very limited use of outer space for military proposes. Further, intelligence agencies or law enforcement agencies must also not use the same for the sake of using. Space is a common territory meant for the common betterment of mankind and no country should claim monopoly over it and abuse it on flimsy grounds.

This debate over sovereign control of space territory by any single nation started when the first “Sputnik” was launched in the space by the U.S.S.R on October 4, 1975. Since then numerous space ventures have been undertaken by various countries, including India. These activities led to the enactment and adoption of the Outer Space Treaty in 1996. It contains the following important principles:

(1) Freedom of exploration of outer space,
(2) Non-appropriation of outer space,
(3) Peaceful use of outer space,
(4) Jurisdiction of States over objects launched,
(5) International responsibilities for national activities,
(6) Assistance to personnel of space craft,
(7) Promotion of International Co-operation in the use of outer space, etc.

Besides this treaty many other agreements have been entered into on the International level from time to time.

It must be appreciated that “military use” of outer space is prohibited almost in all these agreements but military oriented activities in the outer space have been intensified in the recent past despite their prohibition. The systems and techniques capable of destroying an adversary’s satellites have been a major focus of arm race in outer space.

However, there are many positive sides and advantages of outer space usage as well. One of them pertains to use of military and spy satellites for bringing peace and order within a national territory. If a nation is facing real and imminent threat from either internal or external aggression, there is nothing wrong in using these spy satellites for tackling such threats. For instance, there is nothing wrong if Indian government uses its satellites for repelling the threats of Maoists or other terrorists’ organisations who are violating various Human Rights in India without any regard for human dignity and any piece of humanity. Killing innocent people does not prove any point and neither would a soft stand on the part of government of India would be useful in this situation. India should rise about regionalism and political agendas and unite in this fight against terrorism.

However, with great power come great responsibilities as well. This is almost always forgotten by governments of various nations, including India. Such sweeping powers must be suitably regulated and exceptionally used. It should not be unregulated and there should be no arbitrary use of these technologies. The eagle eyes are not meant for fun or curiosity satisfaction but for achieving the larger national interest of India.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Why Legislation For Aadhar Project Of India Is Required?

No time in the history of India the threats of Civil Liberties violations and e-surveillance were as great as are in the present times. The instrumentality that has become the core of this civil liberty fiasco is Aadhar project of India or UID project of India. This is because the UID project intends to gather information that is very sensitive and secret in nature. Combined with other publicly announced projects like national intelligence grid (Natgrid) as well as secret projects of India it can peak into the personal lives of Indians anytime and anywhere. That is why there is an emergent need of good and robust privacy law in India as well as data protection law in India.

It seems the history is repeating itself in India. India is launching projects after projects without proper legal framework. The projects like Aadhar, Natgrid, etc are not only unconstitutional but also undesirable in the absence of just, reasonable and fair law prescribing procedural safeguards.

The Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI) has recently got an approval from the Cabinet Committee on UIDAI headed by the Prime Minister of India Dr. Manmohan Singh. It can now gather demographic and biometric data of Indian residents for UID project. However, the process does not stop here. UID project would not only be combined with projects like Natgrid but also with projects like National Population Register (NPR) operational under the ongoing census of India.

Think about a scenario where every minute and single details of an individual are combined with his biometric details and put at a single place at the disposal of as many authorities as desired by the government of India. Some of them would be authorities that would neither seek the permission nor report to the Central Government while performing its surveillance and e-surveillance activities.

It would be prudent if the government of India formulates both privacy laws and data protection law before proceeding further with projects like aadhar, Natgrid, CCTNS, etc.

Whistleblowers Protection Law In India Is Urgently Required

Corruption and whistleblower protection are conflicting claims. A corrupt society would neither tolerate honest whistleblowers nor would it endeavour to protect them through legal and non-legal means.

India currently does not have a law to protect whistleblowers. It is only after the murder of whistleblower Satyendra Dubey, the Government of India issued an order directing the Central Vigilance Commission to protect whistleblowers. India also does not have a law for witness protections.

Whistleblower and witness protection is a duty of India that it has miserably failed to fulfill. However, India alone is not the only nation to do so. There are other nations as well who have failed to do the needful. What would citizens do if their nations do not care about their honesty, integrity and fight against corruption? Perhaps they must use technology to fight corruption. Sound promising but does it holds good? Definitely yes.

Take the example of Julian Assange, the founder of the whistleblower website Wikileaks. He is maintaining a great site where fight against corruption and lack of transparency is fought over by anonymous soldiers. It has stored tons of secret governmental documents that have leaked from their offices and places. These documents show the truth about governmental intentions and their acts or missions. Obviously, the governments and their agencies are not happy with the same as they prefer to maintain secrecy at all cost.

However, the chances of harassment of such whistleblowers are very great. Recently, the passport of Julian Assange was confiscated by immigration officials when he arrived at Melbourne Airport last week. Though the passport was subsequently handed back he also received a letter from the Australian Communication Minister Steven Conroy’s office stating that the recent disclosure on Wikileaks of a blacklist of websites the Australian government is preparing to ban had been referred to the Australian Federal Police (AFP).

So if you are prepared to face the wrath of governments go ahead and launch a platform similar to Wikileaks. Alternatively support Wikileaks by making a donation that you can afford. But do not sleep over the matter and do something for the protection of whistleblowers in India.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

History Is Repeating Itself

One concept that India lacks most while formulating its national policies and taking crucial decision is a “holistic approach”. Indian government always prefers extreme approach of this way or that way. It never bothers to consider both sides of the proposal. India firmly believes that civil liberties and national interests are mutually exclusive and the former cannot be reconciled with the latter in any case. Rather India is not willing at all to reconcile the same and adopt a holistic approach. All it is doing is imposing initiatives after initiatives even at the cost of human rights of Indian citizens.

Take the example of national intelligence grid (Natgrid) of India. Natgrid is a much required centralised ICT system of India. None can doubt the importance of a project like Natgrid. However, it is not a wise idea to ignore human rights absolutely while implementing Natgrid. This mistake was previously committed by the Home ministry of India and as a result of the same Natgrid was stalled temporarily. It seems the Home Ministry is trying to revive the project again but there are no indications as to safeguards taken to prevent its misuse. If this is the form in which Natgrid would be implemented, I have serious doubts about its objectives as well as results.

Take another example of Aadhar Project of India. This is one of the most important projects that India should undertake as soon as possible. However, the aadhar project is also suffering from the reconciliatory lapses. There are various factors that are making it unconstitutional and illegal in its present form. Fortunately, aadhar would be regulated by a law. This I think is the right approach that India must take. It is always better to remove the obstacles and barriers first and then proceed further. There is no sense in proceeding unprepared and then leaving the projects half baked and semi successful after spending crores of public resources.

I hope Indian government would not commit the same mistakes again as that would amount to blunder. All it is required to do is to take a one time pain and strengthen it base for all subsequent crucial projects like Natgrid, Aadhar, CCTNS, etc.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Natgrid Project Of India Must Comply With Civil Liberties To Be Constitutional

The importance of Human Rights in Cyberspace was recently reiterated when the Cabinet Committee on Security (CCS) of India asked for further “Safeguards” before the National Intelligence Grid (NATGRID) can be launched in India. The Home Ministry has to now ensure “Adequate and Strong Safeguards” before Natgrid can be launched in India.

Human Rights Protection in Cyberspace is a tricky issue. On the one hand we have to respect the civil liberties like right to privacy, right to speech and expression, right against Internet censorship, etc whereas on the other hand we have to comply with the State’s right to regulate its citizens and territories. Here comes the real problem as Internet or cyberspace is boundary less.

The problem is not unique to India alone but is a universal problem. Whether it is the “anonymity controversy” regarding Google or recent controversy regarding “censorship” by China or the blocking of the website of in India or any other similar incidence, governments all over the world are unable to cope up with the present information and communication technology (ICT) systems. As a result they are superimposing the traditional concepts to cyberspace resulting in absurd results, says Praveen Dalal, leading techno-legal expert of India.

There is an emergent need to formulate good techno-legal regulation regarding human right protection in cyberspace. We cannot blindly apply the traditional concepts to cyberspace and we need a separate and dedicate branch of techno-legal laws and regulation in this regard. In the Indian context one such initiative has already been undertaken by Perry4Law.

The initiative intends to provide a techno-legal framework to the stakeholders and governments. In the Indian context, it would cover those areas that have a tendency to violate human rights in real life as well as cyberspace. Some of the areas include Crime and Criminal Tracking Network & Systems (CCTNS) Project (CCTNS Project), National Intelligence Grid (NATGRID), Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI), National Counter Terrorism Centre (NCTC) of India, E-Surveillance under the Information Technology Act 2000 (IT Act 2000) and other laws, etc.

The “suggestions” of Praveen Dalal regarding privacy protection and prevention of potential misuse of information for political ends gathered through NATGRID have already been accepted by the Cabinet Committee on Security (CCS) of India. In the end, the CCS withheld its nod and asked the Home Ministry to come back after further consultation with all stakeholders.

Let us hope that the proposed initiative on protection of civil liberties in cyberspace would prove useful to all concerned.


Sunday, March 14, 2010

Cabinet Committee On Security Of India Desires Safeguards In Natgrid Project

Recently the proposal to establish national intelligence grid (NATGRID) in India was considered by Cabinet Committee on Security (CCS) of India. However, the CCS was advised in advanced by techno-legal experts like Praveen Dalal regarding the possible political misuse and violation of civil liberties of the Indian citizens. As a result, the CCS withheld its nod and asked the Home Ministry to come back after further consultation with all stakeholders.

In the past Praveen Dalal has suggested that NATGRID is an essential requirement for robust and effective intelligence agencies and law enforcement functions in India. The only requirement is to ensure that its abuses can be anticipated, prevented and remedied.

The Home Ministry of India would now start fresh discussions with various stakeholders to ensure that NATGRID may not be abused in future. The task is difficult and it would be beneficial to consult good techno-legal experts in this regard.

The most important aspect that must be kept in mind by the government of India is that it must reconcile the national security aspects of India with human rights protection in cyberspace. This is a difficult task especially in the absence of a dedicate privacy law and data protection law in India, says Praveen Dalal.

A “dedicated resource” in this regard has been launched by Perry4Law [ ] in this regard that may be helpful for the Indian government while implementing projects like Crime and Criminal Tracking Network & Systems (CCTNS) Project (CCTNS Project), National Intelligence Grid (NATGRID), Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI), National Counter Terrorism Centre (NCTC) of India, E-Surveillance under the Information Technology Act 2000 (IT Act 2000) and other laws, etc.


Friday, February 5, 2010

Computer Forensics Training Providers In India

Human Rights protection in cyberspace cannot be achieved till the police officers, lawyers and judges are aware about the application of technology to civil and criminal proceedings. The same essentially requires a sound knowledge of cyber laws as well as the application of cyber forensics to various proceedings. Indian police officers, lawyers and judges are, by large, unaware about cyber laws. The position is even worst when it comes to cyber forensics that is a totally alien concept to Indian legal and judicial system. There is an emergent need of cyber law and cyber forensics training of the police officers, lawyers and judges in India.

Cyber Forensics is a very recent scientific development and countries all over the World are struggling hard to incorporate the same in their respective legal and judicial systems. Cyber forensics is also a part of legal enablement of ICT system that essentially creates a legal framework incorporating the prerequisites of cyber forensics.

Cyber Forensics is an important field of criminal investigation. However, it requires a sound expertise to be practiced. In India we have very few experts who can provide cyber forensics services in an appropriate manner. Presently, India does not possess the required capabilities and law enforcement machinery finds it really difficult to deal with modern cyber crimes.

As per Praveen Dalal, Managing Partner of Perry4Law and the leading Techno-Legal Expert of India, “Computer Forensics or Cyber Forensics in India has started gaining importance out of the necessity to deal with growing cyber crimes. Though India has taken some steps in the direction of enacting Information and Communication Technology (ICT) related law in the form of Information Technology Act, 2000 (IT Act, 2000), yet by and large it failed to provide a sound and secure law in this crucial direction. The result is too obvious. India has to depend upon foreign experts and institutions/universities for cyber forensics tasks”.

In the absence of governmental efforts in this regard, world renowned techno-legal firms like Perry4Law can be really helpful in fighting cyber crimes in India. Issues pertaining to hacking, data thefts, data security, cyber terrorism, financial frauds, privacy violations, etc must not be taken as lightly as has been done by India.

Perry4Law possesses techno-legal expertise for cyber law, cyber forensics, cyber security training, consultancy and solutions providing to various stakeholders. Perry4Law Techno-Legal Base (PTLB) is India’s first and most prominent techno-legal initiative that is providing techno-legal training to various players. It is also acting as India’s first and most effective Resource Centre for Cyber Forensics (RCCF) and cyber forensics software testing platform.

Perry4Law and PTLB provides techno-legal services in the fields like cyber law, cyber forensics, crime and criminal tracking network and systems (CCTNS), techno-legal training to police officers, lawyers and judges, national mission for delivery of justice and legal reforms (NMDJLR), etc.

The government of India must also take immediate steps to acquire indigenous capabilities at the national level. With the growing threats of cyber terrorism and cyber warfare, India should not be as complacent as it is.



Thursday, February 4, 2010

The Cyber Genome Project And Its Cyber Security Implications

The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) of United States has recently announced one of the most crucial projects managed by it. It has revealed the initiation of “Cyber Genome Program”. The aim of the project is to trace the source of any digital information whether it is a document, malware or any other electronic communication.

As a part of this project, digital artifacts are collected from various live systems such as traditional computers, personal digital assistants, and/or distributed information systems such as cloud computers, from wired or wireless networks, or collected storage media. The format may include electronic documents or software.

According to Praveen Dalal, Managing Partner of Perry4Law and the leading Techno-Legal Expert of India, “The project is a very crucial one for the Internet in general and cyber security in particular. It would raise the standards and challenges for cyber security and cyber forensics and would take them to the next revolutionary level. However, the project requires tremendous techno-legal expertise that can be gathered through “collective expertise” only”.

At the same time the Cyber Genome Project would also involve many other legal issues as well. It would not be an easy ride for the project in the absence of an “International Harmonisation” as acts undertaken under the project may be found offending by many jurisdictions. This may also involve “retaliation actions” by those who may feel offended by such tremendous power over the Internet and interconnected networks, warn Praveen Dalal.

The project is at the very initial stage and till its maturity lots of troubles and doubts would be already removed. Let us hope that the project would be successful in preventing and remedying the cyber threats and cyber crimes worldwide, says Praveen Dalal.


Thursday, January 28, 2010

NATGRID Must Be Handled Properly To Survive

NATGRID may be a good platform for India to strengthen its intelligence and law enforcement initiatives. However, it cannot survive in the absence of “Political Will” to make it an effective and responsible tool. With the benefits of NATGRID come the issues of accountability and fairness in its operation. India must formulate adequate "Safeguards" before making NATGRID functional. The NATGRID project must not die like the other projects handled by India from time to time.

National Intelligence Grid (NATGRID) is an essential requirement for robust and effective intelligence agencies and law enforcement functions in India. The only requirement is to ensure that its abuses can be anticipated, prevented and remedied, says Praveen Dalal, Managing Partner of Perry4Law and the leading Techno-Legal Expert of India.

The Ministry of Home affairs, India is managing this ambitious NATGRID project. It sent the proposal to establish NATGRID to various other allied Ministries for their suggestions. Now Ministries like external affairs, finance, defence, telecom, etc have provided their suggestions in this regard. This has paved way for the final clearance of the project.

Techno-Legal specialist Praveen Dalal informs that the aim of NATGRID is to ensure a readily available and real time information sharing platform between intelligence agencies, law enforcement agencies, etc of India. Information gathering and its timely distribution is also an essential part of “Crisis Management Strategies” of any nation. While the NATGRID system is a must for India, yet India has to make it sure that it is not abused for “Political Purposes” and in a manner that goes against the provisions of the Constitution of India.

The scope for misuse is tremendous as NATGRID is planning to link 21 categories of databases maintained by different public and private agencies for ready access by the country’s intelligence agencies. There must be “mechanism” to ensure that this wonderful system may not be abused, warns Praveen Dalal.

Since the concerned ministries have cleared the proposal the same will be now placed before the Cabinet Committee on Security (CCS) for approval. The CCS consent would be the penultimate step for the establishment of NATGRID within next two years, i.e. till 2011. It would be a good idea if the CCS “consults” experts and stakeholders before finally approving the projects, opines Praveen Dalal.