In this article, Praveen Dalal, Managing Partner and CEO of Perry4Law Organisation (P4LO) and PTLB, is discussing shortcomings of Digital India project of Indian government. Digital India and cyber security issues in India have been ignored by Indian government so far and this article is addressing that aspect as well.
The success or failure of any project depends upon it due research and analysis. Without a proper homework and due diligence, a project may face many shortcomings, lacuna and limitations. One such project is known as Digital India. As on date, the Digital India project of India government is heading towards rough waters and problems. This is because Digital India project is suffering from many shortcomings and limitations that Indian government has failed to remove.
For instance, the cyber security infrastructure of India is not in a good shape. Take the example of smart grids cyber security in India. India is contemplating using of smart meters but the same has become a headache for the power companies. Even a Grid Security Expert System (GSES) of India was suggested by Indian government in the past but the same has not been implemented till now.
The Digital India Project of India Government is the classic example of use of Information and Communication Technology (ICT) for delivery of public services. Like any great project, Digital India is also suffering from some “Shortcomings”. The chief among them are lack of Cyber Security, ineffective Civil Liberties Protection, absence of Data Protection (PDF) and Privacy Protection, unregulated E-Surveillance in India, absence of Intelligence Agencies Reforms in India, etc.
Unfortunately, the initial objective of public delivery of services through use of ICT seems to be fading away day by day. Instead of public services the focus has now been shifted towards e-surveillance and data mining. To make this work, Indian Government has been using e-surveillance projects like Aadhaar, Central Monitoring System, Network and Traffic Analysis System (NETRA), National Intelligence Grid (NATGRID), National Cyber Coordination Centre (NCCC), etc. None of them is supported by any “Legal Framework” and “Parliamentary Oversight”.
In fact, Vodafone has confirmed that India has been using “Secret Wires” in the Telecom Infrastructure to indulge in e-surveillance. Indian Department of Telecommunications suppressed the whole incidence with a mere assurance of “Investigation” that never took place. As per my personal information, no “Public Report” was made available in this regard by Indian Government so far.
In a latest twist, the Indian Government clubbed its latest Project named Digital Locker with Aadhaar. Essentially it means that Digital Locker is a legal project based upon illegal technology named Aadhaar. I have serious doubts that Digital Locker would serve its or Digital India’s purpose in these circumstances. The matter does not end here. Indian Government has claimed before the Supreme Court that Aadhaar is not mandatory for availing public services. However, this stand of Indian Government is not correct as Aadhaar has already been made compulsory for many public services and many more are added on regular basis.
Surprisingly, Supreme Court has not invoked either the Contempt or the Perjury proceedings against Central Government and States for making false claims and giving incorrect statements. Is not it the duty of Supreme Court to protect the Fundamental and Human Rights of Indian Citizens and residents? It is difficult to believe that Supreme Court is not aware of the ground situation that is actually happening in India. How can the Supreme Court simply rely upon false and misleading statements and allow the Central Government and States to operate in a manner that is clearly prejudicial to the Constitutional Protections and Principles?
It would be really unfortunate if Digital India Project is made the biggest Panopticon of Human History and an endemic E-Surveillance Instrumentality for the Indian Government where every bit of “Digital Information” can be accessed and manipulated by Indian Government. If this is the intention of Indian Government then Digital India Project is heading for rough waters.