Sunday 27 March 2011

Privacy Laws In India

India has no dedicated privacy law and we need to urgently formulate good privacy laws in India. Absence of privacy laws in India is proving biggest roadblock for many national security projects of India.

Indian government failed to maintain the delicate balance between national security requirements and human rights protection in Indian cyberspace. This has raised serious privacy violations issues and many crucial projects have failed to see the light of the day.

Indian government never thought that its indifference towards privacy laws, data security laws and data protection laws would become its headache. With controversies like illegal phone tapping, imposition of Aadhar project, launch of projects like national intelligence grid (Natgrid) and crime and criminal tracking network and systems (CCTNS) without any procedural safeguards, etc enactment of a dedicated and constitutionally sound privacy law has become absolutely essential.

Projects like Aadhar, Natgrid, CCTNS, etc require strong privacy laws and effective data security and data protection practices. In the absence of these procedural safeguards, it is advisable to scrap the most controversial and endemic e-surveillance project named Aadhar and authority named UIDAI.

The main reason for absence of these laws is the growing anxiety of Indian government and its intelligence agencies towards e-surveillance. Unfortunately, Indian government has misunderstood that e-surveillance is a substitute for good cyber security and cyber forensics skills.

On the other hand, India urgently needs to enact data security and cyber security laws. While e-surveillance and electronic eavesdropping are important for law enforcement and national security purposes, there is no justification for deliberately abstaining from enacting suitable procedural safeguards against their abuses. What is more surprising is that Parliament of India has absolutely abdicated its role in this regard and thereby has endangered the separation of powers concept of Indian Constitution.

If India wishes to engage in lawful interceptions and phone tappings, it must enact lawful interception law as soon as possible. Further, lawful interception laws must be supported by adequate and strong privacy laws in India. Privacy laws in India are urgently required and India cannot afford to postpone the same any more.