Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Mobile Governance And E-Authentication In India

Recently World Bank granted a huge loan to India to ensure suitable policies for ensuring electronic delivery of services in India. The loan has been given under the title electronic delivery of public services development policy loan (DPL) project of India. Naturally, India has to start working in this direction to justify the loan.

For the time being we have no implementable electronic delivery of services policy of India though it may be in pipeline. Indian government is working in the direction of ensuring electronic delivery of services in India. In fact a legal framework titled electronic delivery of services bill 2011 (EDS Bill 2011) has also been proposed by Indian government.

While this is a good step taken by Indian government however the Bill has failed to achieve what was most importantly required from it. We have no legal framework for mandatory e-governance services in India and even the proposed EDS Bill 2011 failed to address this issue. As on date neither the information technology act 2000 (IT Act 2000) nor the EDS Bill 2011 provides a right in the hands of Indian citizens to claim e-governance as a matter of right. Thus, both IT Act 2000 and EDS Bill 2011 have little significance in the field of mandatory e-governance services in India.

As far as mobile governance policy in India the same is missing. We cannot rely much upon m-governance in India till we have a suitable m-governance policy of India. Further, authentication in an online environment plays a crucial role in fixing rights and liabilities through mobile transactions. There is no e-authentication policy of India that is operational at national level.

A good example of use of m-governance in India can be mobile banking. Recently Reserve Bank of India (RBI) removed the ceiling for mobile banking transactions in India. This is a good step but its efficacy is still debatable. When banks in India are not interested in maintaining mobile banking cyber security use of mobile banking may create many problems. Banks in India are not providing positive confirmations of NEFT transactions and expecting cyber security from them is unrealistic. Indian banks are also not following the guidelines of RBI prescribing mandatory cyber security requirements for banks of India.

Now the department of information technology (DIT) is formulating a policy that will enable citizens to authenticate their identities online to access various government services electronically, including through mobile phones. I hope DIT would keep all the abovementioned aspects in mind while formulating the proposed policy.

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