Monday 27 June 2011

Natgrid And NIA Have Become Obscure And Unconstitutional

Indian government is implementing various e-surveillance projects in clear violation of human rights and fundamental rights. Merely labeling a project as national security project does not make it one. The truth is that Natgrid project of India is still nebulous and unconstitutional. Exempting it from the applicability of RTI Act 2005 proves this point.

Accountability and transparency are two words that do not apply to Indian law enforcement and intelligence agencies. India has chosen to stick to the British legacy of non transparency. Whether it is laws like official secrets act, Indian telegraph act or the accountability of Indian law enforcement and intelligence agencies, Indian government has even surpassed the Britishers in this regard.

Instead of strengthening the transparency and Parliamentary scrutiny, India is further making these agencies more unaccountable and lawless. The right to information act 2005 (RTI Act 2005) is the sole transparency law of India that needs further amendments and strengthening. However, the proposed right to information rules 2010 instead of strengthening the RTI Act, 2005 took steps that are retrograde in nature.

Firstly, India amended the cyber law of India through the draconian information technology amendment act 2008 that empowered Indian government and its agencies with unconstitutional e-surveillance, internet censorship and website blocking powers. Subsequently, it made the RTI Act 2005 weaker and redundant.

Now Indian government has announced that Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI), national investigation authority of India (NIA) and national intelligence grid (Natgrid) would be exempted from the applicability of RTI Act, 2005. The constitutional validity of national investigation agency act, 2008 (NIA 2008) is still doubtful and CBI and Natgrid are not governed by any law at all. Even the proposed central monitoring system of India is without any parliamentary oversight.

Whether it is CBI or Intelligence Agencies of India, none of them are presently Accountable to Parliament of India, informs Praveen Dalal, managing partner of New Delhi based ICT law firm Perry4Law and CEO of exclusive Human Rights Protection Centre for Cyberspace in India. This casts a doubt about the Impartiality and Transparency of these Agencies, suggests Dalal. Exempting these Agencies without any parallel “Parliamentary Oversight” is against the provisions of Indian Constitution, informs Dalal.

In these days the role of Indian Parliament has been reduced to almost nothing. Important laws are never passed and existing laws like the cyber law of India have been made e-surveillance instrumentality for Indian government and its agencies. The Parliament of India needs to take its legislative role seriously, at least now.

Friday 24 June 2011

National Security Task Force Of India

National security issues are too important to be ignored. Indian government has also realised this truth and is planning to work properly in this regard. Till now we have no national security policy in India, cyber security policy in India, etc.

We need to formulate Indian national security policy that must cover crucial issues like cyber security, cyber forensics, critical infrastructure protection, etc. Further, reconciliation of the fundamental rights of India citizens and national security requirements of India is also missing.

The government has taken a step in these directions and it has constituted a task force to carry out a holistic review of national security and the country's preparedness to face the myriad challenges. The task force headed by former cabinet secretary Naresh Chandra comes a decade after the Kargil Review Committee carried out a similar assessment in the wake of the Indo-Pak conflict of 1999.

"The security challenges have changed. India has moved on, our security challenges have evolved. It is time to look at the national security situation in the light of challenges ranging from cyber security to energy security," official sources explained.

The task force headed by Chandra, who had been the Indian ambassador to the US and defence secretary, has several experts from various fields including the military, intelligence, nuclear and media. According to officials, the task force has been given six months to submit it report.

The task force comes almost a decade after Atal Behari Vajpayee government appointed the Kargil Review Committee headed by strategic affairs analyst, the late K Subrahmanyam. It recommended sweeping changes in several areas of security, from military to intelligence, border management to defence budgeting. Many of its recommendations were implemented, but some were left out. Some others were not implemented properly, such as the modernisation of infantry, border management etc. The government's decision to appoint a new task force comes at a time when there are widespread concerns about failures in defence integration, lack of a cohesive response to the rise of China, emergence of cyber threats, and the widening realities of India's national security. There are also concerns about protecting energy sources. The country's economic growth would significantly depend on protecting the cyber assets as much as the physical border.

Members of the task force include former Navy chief Admiral Arun Prakash, former Air chief Air Chief Marshal S Krishnaswamy, former chief of the Department of Atomic Energy Anil Kakodkar, former chief of RAW KC Verma, former Indian high commissioner to Pakistan G Parthasarathy and former home secretary VK Duggal. Sources said the task force would start work after Chandra, who is presently out of India, returns.

Of late, India is ignoring the human rights of Indian citizens in cyberspace. Many e-surveillance oriented projects have been launched by Indian government without any procedural safeguards and legal frameworks. The task force must also human rights protection in Indian cyberspace.

Tuesday 21 June 2011

ICANN Approved Generic Top Level Domains Extension

Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) has approved the extension of generic top level domain names (gTLDs). Though other important issues have yet to be decided but at least the way for allotting new gTLDs has opened.

How this decision of ICANN would change the Internet is yet to be seen but ICANN must be prepared for unforeseen challenges. Further, domain name disputes and other intellectual property rights (IPRs) disputes would arise in future with this expansion of gTLDs.

The same would still be governed by the Uniform Domain-Name Dispute-Resolution Policy (UDRP) of ICANN till some modified rules or procedure is established by ICANN.

Applications for new gTLDs will be accepted from 12 January 2012 to 12 April 2012. The same should be made as per the procedure prescribed by ICANN’s Applicant Guidebook.

In future, ICANN’s Applicant Guidebook needs to consider and adopt many more crucial issues like upgradation of UDRP procedure, better and expeditious Dispute Resolution Mechanism, enhanced Cyber Security Initiatives for Domain Name and DNS, better National and International Cooperations with Governments, NGOs and Dispute Resolution Providers, considering interests of Developing Countries and NGOs, etc, suggests Praveen Dalal, managing partner of New Delhi based ICT and IP law Firm Perry4Law and CEO of the exclusive Techno Legal Online Dispute Resolution Centre of India (TLODRCI).

While additional gTLDs have been approved by ICANN yet it requires lots of efforts to successfully manage this ambitious expansion. ICANN would start spreading public awareness about it very soon. It would be beneficial for the applicants to seek help of good techno legal professionals in this regard.

Sunday 12 June 2011

Blogspot Blogs Are Inaccessible Again

Blogs hosted upon Blogspot platform are inaccessible in New Delhi, India once more. Surprisingly although I can log in yet I cannot see the Blogs.

As you can read this post, it is clear that even posting is allowed. Now it would be interesting to know whether you can view this post from India through an Indian internet service provider’s (ISP) connection.

If you can access the same through an Indian ISP, kindly leave a comment. Even if you cannot access the post, kindly leave a comment.

Many of you may not be aware that Wordpress has recently censored our platform named Techno Legal Journalist.

Further, Wordpress has also disabled the accounts of all our contributors at the Techno Legal News and Views platform as well.

Meanwhile, the indexing of our Blogs at Blogspot has been messed up to a great extent. Out posts used to be indexed almost instantaneously. Now they appear after a gap of 2-3 days.

Now we cannot see the Blogs of Blogspot at all. We are trying to ascertain what is happening. But one thing is for sure. Either it is a technical problem or a case of censorship by Indian government.

Only Google can answer this question as Wordpress’s behaviour has already cleared the air in this regard. If Google doe not explains this issue soon, it would be clear that it is a case of censorship.

Update 13-06-2011: Blogspot Blogs are once more not opening at 4.20 PM, Monday, June 2011.

Friday 10 June 2011

Why Wordpress Is Censoring Blogs?

It seems our Blog Techno Legal Journalists has been censored by Wordpress for no reasons.

We have been providing critical analysis against authorities and this may be the reason for this censorship.

This episode happened toady and we have lodged a protest with Wordpress. We would come up with a more detailed post in this regard very soon.

However, the way Wordpress is censoring Blogs unilaterally and without any notice or intimation is strangulation of free speech and expression, to say the least.

We never received any e-mail from Wordpress till the posting of this article.

This is really frustrating as months of hard work and tons of posts are gone for no reason.

We hope Wordpress would restore the same as soon as possible as it should not be against exercise of civil liberties like right to speech and expression.

Sunday 5 June 2011

An Ideal Jan Lokpal Bill 2011 Of India

Now that it is clear that the proposed Jan Lokpal bill 2011 of India could not be drafted before the deadline we must proceed further to discuss what an ideal Jan Lokpal bill must have.

Fortunately, Praveen Dalal, managing partner of New Delhi based law firm Perry4Law and leading techno legal expert of India has explained what an ideal Jan Lokpal Bill must have.

He has suggested many far reaching and reformative provisions in the proposed Jan Lokpal Bill of India. He has also sent these suggestions to the government of India.

He has stressed upon pro active use of information and communication technology (ICT) for effective administration and implementation of the proposed Jan Lokpal Bill.

Let us hope these suggestions would be accepted by Indian government and would be incorporated in the final draft of the Jan Lokpal Bill of India.