Privacy Is Your Right Not A Charity And National Security In India Is A White Lie Not A Reality

PRAVEEN DALAL MANAGING PARTNER OF PERRY4LAW AND CEO OF PTLBWhat would you do if somebody tries to invade your Privacy or the Privacy of your Family? Most of us would fight back to protect the same. However, almost none of us fights back if the same violation is done by or own Government or Government of Foreign Nations. Even our own Government ditches us and supports such foreign Governments in their illegal E-Surveillance activities.

India is one such Country that is not only indulging in Illegal and Unconstitutional E-Surveillance upon Indian Citizens but is also allowing other Countries like United States to do the same. For instance, India has been using, and is still using right now, the Unconstitutional E-Surveillance Projects like Central Monitoring System and NETRA. The Narendra Modi Government has still not “Cleared its Stand” on these Unconstitutional E-Surveillance Projects that must have been done long before.

After more than a month of being in power, it is safe to presume that the Modi Government “Intends to Continue” with these Illegal and Unconstitutional Projects just like its predecessor Congress Government. This may prove that the Modi Government is worst than Congress Government as far as Civil Liberties Protection in Cyberspace is concerned. Atleast Congress Government was “Honest Enough” to admit launch and use of these E-Surveillance Projects. But Modi Government is “Notoriously Silent” on these Issues and Projects.

In fact, India is Collaborating with other Countries to facilitate “Mutual E-Surveillance” in an Illegal and Unconstitutional manner. Recently, Telecom Company Vodafone confirmed that Secret Wires have been used around the World to indulge in Illegal Eavesdropping. India is also doing the same but all that Modi Government has done in this regard is ordering a Sham, Ineffective and Casual Analysis of the situation. After more than two weeks, the Department of Telecommunication is still not been able to provide a “Public Report” in this regard and the same may never see the light of the day as well.

On the contrary, the Modi Government has given hints that it is not at all willing to let go the Illegal and Unconstitutional E-Surveillance Projects like CMS, NETRA, etc. These hints can be found in the proposed National Telecom Security Policy of India 2014 wherein Snooping and Eavesdropping have found mention without any Privacy and Procedural Safeguards.

For instance, the draft Telecom Security Policy prescribes that cellular operator will mandatorily have to allow Law Enforcing Agencies to intercept calls, messages, and any other communications and the access to monitor it in real time, while keeping the communications secured. However, there is no Constitutional Lawful Interception Law in India as on date and this requirement would be a violation of Fundamental Rights of Indian Citizens.

If all this is not enough, the U.S. Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) Court has been Issuing Orders to allow U.S. National Security Agency (NSA) to indulge in E-Surveillance at a “Global Scale”. This includes conducting E-Surveillance upon Indian Citizens, Political Organisations like Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), etc. It is really surprising how India allows a local U.S. Court to play with its “Sovereignty and Constitution”.

The fact is that India is a Sitting Duck in the Cyberspace and Civil Liberties Protection Regime. Similarly, India is also a Sitting Duck in the Cyber Security Field. This position is “Serving Indian Government’s Purpose” and this is not going to change very soon. So there must be an “Alterative” to this whole chaos and “Civil Liberties Violation Fiasco”.

It is well understood that those who surrender their Liberty in exchange for “False Promises of National Security” would loose both. This equally applies to Indian Citizens as well. Privacy is your Right and not a Charity and National Security of India is a White Lie and not A Reality.

Indian Government is not going to safeguard our Privacy Rights and we have to “Reclaim” the same ourselves. There are little chances of getting Parliamentary Oversight of Intelligence Agencies of India. Similarly, there are almost no chances of Intelligence Agencies Reforms in India that can bring their functioning in lines with Constitutional Requirements.

We cannot “Enact Laws” but we can use “Counter Technologies” to prevent Illegal and Unconstitutional E-Surveillance and Eavesdropping. Self Defence and Privacy Protection in India must be ensured by us at our own levels. The initiatives titled PRISM Break and Reset the Net are the “Starting Point” in this regard. I would come up with detailed articles dedicated to protection of Civil Liberties of all those who care for their Privacy and Right to Speech and Expression in Cyberspace and this Information Era.