Monday, June 20, 2011

Indian Government Waking Up To Privacy Laws Requirements

Of late Fundamental Rights and Civil Liberties of Indian Citizens in Cyberspace have been totally neglected by the Executive and Legislative Branches of Indian Constitution. Unfortunately, even Judiciary failed to interfere and we have reached a “Precarious Situation” where the Constitution of India, especially Fundamental Rights, are about to be made “Redundant and Non Existent”.

While United Nations has declared that “Access to Internet” is Human Rights yet Indian Government is well committed to deny not only this Human Rights but also all other possible Human Rights in Cyberspace.

Naturally, there is a need to protect Human Rights in Cyberspace before we fully launch various E-Surveillance and Civil liberties Violating Projects in India. Security and E-Surveillance Projects have been launched by Indian Government without any “Procedural Safeguards” and in active “Violation” of Human Rights in Cyberspace. The only solace is that these Projects are in their infancy stage and they can still be made “Constitutional”.

For instance, Projects like National Intelligence Grid (NATGRID), Central Monitoring System of India (CMS), Centre for Communication Security Research and Monitoring (CCSRM), Aadhar Project of India, Crime and Criminal Tracking Network and Systems (CCTNS), National Counter Terrorism Centre (NCTC), etc have no “Procedural Safeguards” and they are violating Human Rights and Fundamental Rights in their “Present Form”. These Projects have been launched without any Legal Framework and Parliamentary Oversight. Further, even the most “Basic Laws” like Data Protection Laws, Data Security Laws, Privacy Laws, etc are missing in India.

Realising the “Gravity of the Situation”, the Planning Commission of India has now decided to call a high-level meeting of experts, civil society representatives and government officials to address these concerns. The Commission admits that initiatives like UID, NATGRID, DNA profiling, brain mapping and tapping communication, etc are “Genuine Concerns” and they need to be addressed properly. The Commission has also suggested using “Inbuilt Technological Safeguards” for all these Projects.

At Perry4Law and Perry4Law Techno Legal Base (PTLB) we have been constantly suggesting that privacy is a key concern in all these Projects as people's personal information would be stored in a single database and the possibility of corruption and exploitation could not be ruled out.

The minister, incharge of IT in the plan panel, said it is necessary to have in-depth and threadbare discussion with experts, civil society representatives and government officials to ensure that the objective of national security and efficiency in public service delivery mechanism are effectively reconciled with the privacy concern of citizens.

This is a good step in the right direction and Perry4Law and PTLB welcome this step of Indian Government.

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