Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Privacy And Data Protection Laws In India

Ever since the cyber law of India was amended in the year 2008, things have never been smooth. There were lots of protests from civil liberty activists, lawyers, industrial associations, etc regarding the cyber criminal friendly nature of the proposed information technology amendment act, 2008 (IT Act 2008). However, despite severe and vigorous protests Indian government went ahead with the damaging IT Act 2008.

Now after few years of passing of such amendments its rationale has become clear. The main aim of the IT Act 2008 was to strengthen the e-surveillance capabilities of Indian government, Indian intelligence and law enforcement agencies and other agencies and instrumentalities of Indian government.

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.

This is the main reason why India does not have any dedicated privacy law or data protection law. Indian government is not at all willing to provide privacy safeguards and data security safeguards as they may go against the e-surveillance activities of Indian government.

For instance, we do not have a constitutionally valid phone tapping law in India and India is the only democratic country of the world that engages in phone tapping without a court warrant. Indian executive have usurped constitutional powers of Judiciary and Parliament of India in great disregard of the Constitutional provisions.

It is high time for the Parliament of India to enact strong cyber laws, effective privacy laws and adequate data protection laws. Usurping the Judicial and Parliamentary powers and making piece meal efforts would not solve the problem. Rather they would further aggravate the problems that India is presently facing.