Monday, March 21, 2011

International Cyber Crime Treaty And India

Cyber laws of the world are by and large territorial in nature and applicability. As a result, different countries have different cyber law and this at times result in conflict of laws.

International initiatives to bring harmonisation were also undertaken but these initiatives failed to generate confidence among the developing countries. As a result, these developing countries are still not part of any international treaty or convention on cyber crimes. International cyber crime treaty and India are still two different domains till date.

The European Union convention on cybercrime is the first international treaty that is trying to resolve the growing nuisances of cyber crime and Internet crimes. The treaty is trying to harmonise national laws, improve cyber crimes investigative techniques and increase cooperation among nations. The treaty came into force on 1 July 2004.

Recently, efforts were made at the United Nations (UN) to adopt a “more comprehensive” and “truly global” International cyber crime treaty, informs Praveen Dalal, managing partner of New Delhi based law firm Perry4Law and leading techno legal expert of India. However, the proposal was rejected by UN and till now there is no globally acceptable cyber crime treaty in existence, informs Dalal.

The biggest roadblock preventing culmination of an internationally acceptable cyber crime treaty is absence of procedural safeguards to prevent abuse and violation of civil liberties of netizens. There is an urgent need to maintain a balance between civil liberties and national security and law enforcement requirements, suggests Dalal. The clash of civil liberties like free speech and expression, privacy rights, etc with law enforcement needs must be adequately reconciled by any international treaty to be successful, suggests Dalal.

Nations across the world are not paying much attention to privacy issues in cyberspace in general and human rights protection in cyberspace in particular. For instance, India has an exclusive techno legal human rights protection centre for cyberspace. Issues pertaining to protection of civil liberties in Indian cyberspace are regularly discussed by this centre. However, such centers are rare not only in India but also in other parts of the world. As a result civil liberty representations are not properly made while formulating any international treaty or convention.

Among many laudable objectives of this centre, one of it pertains to providing assistance in the formulation of “international cyber law treaty”. In fact, 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.

India must not sign any international treaty or convention on cyber crime till it is very much sure that the delicate balance between civil liberties and law enforcement needs is properly maintained. Further, India must also not sign such treaty if it is discriminatory or is going against India’s interests, suggests Dalal.

For the time being, India is in no mood to join any such international treaty and when it desires to do so all the aspects must be kept in mind.