Saturday, February 19, 2011

Internet Censorship In India Has Increased

Internet has been under constant and furious attacks all over the world. The fact is that Internet is under potential threat these days. The threat is not only from malicious users, rouge nations and automated viruses and worms but also from our own governments.

Take the example of Internet kill switch (IKS) that has been increasingly seen as a solution to cyber threats. But IKS is no solution to cyber security threats. Rather it is a remedy worst than the malady and would prove dangerous in the long term.

The only purpose of IKS is to strengthen the e-surveillance powers of governments and its agencies. This is the reason why we must have anti Internet kill switch measures at hand.

Internet censorship is a result of this desire to control the Internet and online activities of netizens. Internet censorship has drastically increased in India in recent times. With adoption of projects like central monitoring system (CMS) by Indian government, this is quiet clear. Like other projects, CMS also is not under parliamentary scrutiny and this raises serious civil liberties violations issues in India.

Recently Blogspot was blocked in India once again under an “experimental blocking” exercise. It is believed that the same has been done using the CMS of India. This exercise was undertaken to analyse the websites blocking capabilities of Indian government and its agencies.

India has a draconian but cyber criminals’ friendly cyber law in the form of information technology act, 2000 (IT Act 2000). It was amended in 2008 to confer unregulated e-surveillance, Internet censorship and website blocking powers to Indian government and its agencies. The present cyber law of India is an unconstitutional one in the absence of procedural safeguards that can prevent these abusive draconian powers under the IT Act 2000. It requires an urgent repeal.

If at all India is serious about national security and cyber security, it must formulate a national security policy of India. This policy must cover issues like national security, cyber security, internal security, external security, etc. It must also provide constitutionally sound guidelines regarding cyber security and national security.

Presently, e-surveillance, phone tapping, interceptions, etc are not done under a constitutionally sound law. In fact, India has no constitutionally valid phone tapping and lawful interception law so far.

If India wishes to safeguard its cyberspace, Internet censorship is no solution. Rather, Internet censorship does not give positive results and always gives a bad taste afterwards. India must seriously consider this aspect and come up with effective laws and policies regarding lawful and constitutional regulation of Internet in India.