Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Telecom Security Policy Of India And Encryption Rules

Encryption is a very useful technology for safe and secure e-transactions. It is also needed to have secure and confidential electronic communications. However, encryption is an unresolved enigma in India. We have no encryption laws in India and despite the suggestions of many experts’ encryption laws and regulations in India are still missing.

Encryption has also become essential due to faulty electronic sniffing and e-surveillance approach of India. For instance, India is pressurising Research in Motion’s (RIM) Blackberry for providing unencrypted e-mail and telecom communications in India. By threatening to ban Blackberry services in India, the government has already obtained access to Blackberry’s messenger services. Now India is forcing the telecom service providers of India to drop Blackberry’s services if it does not provide free and unencrypted access to its services in India. This is not only a wrong strategy but also an unconstitutional act on the part of Indian government.

According to Praveen Dalal, a Supreme Court lawyer and leading techno legal expert of India, we have “No Constitutionally Sound” Lawful Interception Law in India and we need one immediately. The Indian Telegraph Act, 1885 has served it purpose and it must be “Repealed” as soon as possible if India cares about Fundamental Rights of Indian Citizens, suggests Dalal.

According to Dalal India is the only country of the World where phone tapping is done without a Court Warrant and by Executive Branch of the Constitution of India. Phone tapping in India is "Unconstitutional" and the Parliament of India has not thought it fit to enact a "Constitutionally Sound Law" in this regard. Even the Supreme Court's directions in PUCL case have proved futile and presently the Court is dealing with the issue once more, informs Dalal. India urgently needs a lawful interception law, suggests Dalal. Industrial body Assocham has also endorsed the views of Praveen Dalal.

However, India is compromising the mobile security in India by insisting otherwise. Mobile cyber security in India is not upto the mark and unencrypted communication would further increase the risks. New telecom policy of India 2011 is in pipeline and it would be a good idea if mobile security policy of India is also made a part of the same, suggests Dalal. The proposed Telecom Security Council of India can take this issue when constituted, suggests Dalal.

Meanwhile, the United States government will seek changes in India's policies on telecom security and encryption in its next meeting with the telecoms department officials. Companies like Gmail, Skype and BlackBerry are facing Indian security agencies irk over encryption issues.

We must urgently formulate a telecom security policy of India that covers encryption aspects as well. Let us hope the encryption issues and lawful interception issues of India would be resolved very soon.