Sunday, April 22, 2012

Facebook, Google, Etc May Be Forced To Install Servers In India

Should foreign websites and social media websites establish servers in India? This is a very crucial question that has to be answered immediately. Till now social media websites and foreign companies and websites are governed by a combination of self regulation and governmental regulations.

However, the recent events have shaken up Indian government completely and it is planning to demand that companies like Google, Facebook, etc must establish servers in India. Further, conflict of laws in Indian cyberspace may also require establishment of servers of Google, Facebook, etc in India.

In these circumstances, Indian government can consider enactment of more stringent norms to regulate social media websites in India. In fact, many US based companies and websites are already facing legal proceedings in India. Additionally, Indian government can mandatorily require US companies and websites to install servers in India so that objectionable contents can be regulated, monitored and deleted at Indian soil itself. 

This step is in addition to the establishment of central monitoring system project of India by Indian government under which a centralised mechanism would be put in place to analyse telecommunications and Internet communications. The real problem for the CMS Project of India is that we have no dedicated privacy laws in India, data security laws in India and data protection laws in India. Further, the CMS Project of India is also beyond the “parliamentary scrutiny”.

Another related project in this regard is National Cyber Coordination Centre (NCCC) of India. The NCCC would provide actionable alerts to government departments in cases of perceived security threats. It is hoped that this would help in fighting terrorists and other cyber criminals. The NCCC will scan whole cyber traffic flowing at the point of entry and exit at India's international Internet gateways.

All tweets, messages, emails, status updates and even email drafts will now pass through the new scanning centre. The centre may probe further into any email or social media account if it finds a perceived threat.

The main problem with this entire scenario is that we have no e-surveillance policy in India. The phone tapping in India is done in an “unconstitutional manner” and even by private individuals with or without governmental approval.  Further, the cyber law of India, incorporated in the Information Technology Act 2000, must be repealed as soon as possible as it is clearly not in conformity with the Constitution of India and civil liberties protection in cyberspace.

If foreign websites fail to comply with Indian laws, there is nothing wrong to ask them to establish servers in India. However, big brother must not overstep the limits and must act within the constitutional limits that it is presently transgressing openly and in an uncontrolled manner.

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