Sunday 20 March 2011

International Cyber Law Treaty And India

Cyber law is an important part of information technology related regulations. Till now cyber law is a regional issue with various countries having different legislations. We need new progressive international legal frameworks in this regard.

A new set of harmonised legal frameworks to combat cyber crime through increased international cooperation is the need of the hour. However, this requires a much more integrative approach involving not only governments, but also the private sector, civil society, and non-government sector to be successful.

Till there is an acceptable model for International cyber law, countries would keep on refusing to be part of the same. For example, India chose not to join the European Convention on Cyber Crime because it would have introduced a completely alien legal framework into the Indian legislative process.

Similarly, there is an urgent need to maintain a balance between civil liberties and national security and law enforcement requirements. The clash of civil liberties like free speech and expression with cyber security will also need to be studied carefully.

Recently Alexander Seger, Head of Economic Crime Division, Council of Europe, asked India to be a part of the Convention on Cybercrime. Although the intentions seem to be good yet the end result would be a big failure. This is so because an action without proper planning and preparation can never fetch the desired result. India is presently suffering from weak cyber law, ignored cyber security and absence of cyber forensics capabilities.

The Information Technology Act, 2000 (IT Act, 2000) is the sole cyber law of India that is regulating all the aspects of cyber law, cyber security and cyber forensics. Undoubtedly, the legal enablement of ICT systems in India is missing. Surprisingly, Seger thinks that the Information Technology (Amendment) Bill, 2008 now provides with a "fairly complete" legal framework. He opined that now the most important step is to follow it up with steps that will enable India to cooperate internationally in an effective manner. Here lies the catch.

According to Praveen Dalal, the Leading Techno-Legal Specialist of India and managing partner of Perry4Law, India is currently not equipped to sign any International Convention or Treaty regarding Cyber Law and Cyber Crimes. If the very base is defective we cannot get the result we are carving for. The IT Act, 2000 is weak, cyber security is missing and cyber forensics capabilities do not exist. There are no efforts in these directions in India except by private sector.

Private Initiatives like Cyber Security Research Centre of India (CSRCI) of Perry4Law and Perry4Law Techno Legal Base (PTLB) are very important for bringing “Harmonisation” of cyber law. Perry4Law and PTLB have been trying to leverage the opinion and expertise of specialists in their respective fields. Further, among many laudable objectives of CSRCI, one of it pertains to providing assistance in the formulation of “International Cyber Law Treaty”. CSRCI, Perry4Law and PTLB are in the process of formulating a draft that must be considered by the Indian government before acceding to any Convention in this regard”.

It is clear that India is not yet ready to sign any international treaty or convention. Signing of the same would only increase pressure upon the law enforcement and Indian government. The proper course of actions is to improve its position regarding cyber law, cyber security and cyber forensics. Once that is achieved, we must proceed towards analysing the draft of European Union or any other institution.