Parliamentary Committee Slams Indian Government For Poor Privacy Laws In India

PRAVEEN-DALAL-MANAGING-PARTNER-OF-PERRY4LAW-CEO-PTLB Privacy Rights in India are in really bad shape. This is more so when it comes to cyberspace as Civil Liberties Protection in Cyberspace is still an unachievable dream for Indian Citizens. We have no dedicated Data Protection Laws in India (PDF) and both Privacy and Data Protection aspects are at the mercy of those who are well committed to violate the same.

For instance, India has launched E-Surveillance and Privacy Violating Projects like Aadhar, National Intelligence Grid (NATGRID), Crime and Criminal Tracking Network and Systems (CCTNS), National Counter Terrorism Centre (NCTC), Central Monitoring System (CMS), Centre for Communication Security Research and Monitoring (CCSRM), Internet Spy System Network And Traffic Analysis System (NETRA) of India, etc. None of them are governed by any Legal Framework and none of them are under Parliamentary Scrutiny. Even the essential E-Surveillance Policy of India is missing till now.

We at Perry4Law have been stressing for years that India needs a Dedicated, Holistic and Comprehensive Privacy Legal Framework. However, Indian Government has been “Deliberately Postponing” formulation and implementation of a good Privacy Law in India. A dedicated Privacy Law is urgently required as emerging fields/areas like E-Commerce, Online Pharmacies, Mobile Application Development, Cloud Computing, Encryption Laws, Website Development, M-Health, Telemedicine, E-Mail Policies, Online Payment Service Providers, Mobile Payment, Payment Gateway and Pos Terminal Service Providers, etc would absolutely rely upon such a Privacy Law.

Even the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Information Technology in its report titled “Cyber-Crime, Cyber Security and Right to Privacy”, which was submitted on February 10, has slammed Indian Government for not coming up with a Dedicated Privacy Legislation.

“The Committee are extremely unhappy to note that the government is yet to institute a legal framework on privacy”, the report states. The 88-page report also shows that the members of Parliament are both aware and concerned about issues of privacy, noting that, “balancing cyber security and right to privacy is extremely complex.” However, CERT-IN’s efforts regarding strengthening India’s cyber security have been appreciated by the Committee.

Surprisingly, various Government Officials and Bureaucrats tried to convince the Committee that the scanty provisions under the Information Technology Act, 2000 are enough to protect Privacy and Data Protection Rights in India. They also tried to convince the Committee that the present IT Act, 2000 is equipped to deal with the growing incidences of Cyber Crimes in and Cyber Attacks against India and Indian Citizens. However, I personally believe that the Cyber Law of India and the Indian Telegraph Act, 1885 deserve an “Urgent Repeal”. If the Base Laws themselves are “Illegal and Unconstitutional”, deriving Privacy Rights Protection out of them is a fatal mistake. This also means that a Comprehensive and Holistic Privacy Law must be separately enacted by Indian Government.

Fortunately, the Committee has rightly rejected the Government?s contention that the IT Act was sufficient to protect the Privacy of Citizens and Human Rights. The Privacy Rights in India in the Information Era cannot be protected in the manner suggested by Indian government and its officials. Rather, these methods are used to “Subvert’ Privacy Rights in India and this is exactly what is happening in India.

In India, Phone Tapping and Interceptions are done without a Court Warrant and by Executive Branch of the Constitution of India. Phone Tapping in India is “Unconstitutional” and the Parliament of India has not thought it fit to enact a “Constitutionally Sound Law” for Phone Tappings and Lawful Interceptions. India’s stand is also violating United Nation’s Resolution on Right to Privacy in the Digital Age.

The Committee has recommended that, “The Department of Electronics and Information Technology (DeitY) in coordination with Department of Personnel and Training, multidisciplinary professionals/experts should come out with a comprehensive and people-friendly policy that may protect the privacy of citizens and is also fool-proof from security point-of-view”.

I personally believe that this is high time for Indian Government to enact a Techno Legal Privacy Law of India as soon as possible.