Tuesday, May 10, 2011

India Has Become An E-Police State

This is the updated version of my previous article on similar topic. Cyber law of India is incorporated in the information technology act, 2000 (IT Act 2000) that was drastically amended through the information technology amendment act 2008 (IT Act 2008). The cyber law of India has become so offensive and useless that it requires an urgent repeal. Instead of following the right path, India has chosen to become an e-police state.

Suggestions have been given in the past that United Nations (UN) must protect human rights in cyberspace as well. However, UN is not serious about protecting human rights in cyberspace. Countries like India are taking advantage of this void created by inaction on the part of UN.

Human Rights in Cyberspace are outlawed in India, says Praveen Dalal, managing partner of New Delhi based ICT law firm Perry4Law and leading techno legal expert of India. In fact, the IT Act, 2008 has made the sole Cyber Law of India susceptible to the attacks of “Unconstitutionality” as it is now openly and blatantly violating various Fundamental Rights as incorporated in the Constitution of India, informs Dalal.

Cyber law of India has been doomed to its detriment and civil liberties of Indian citizens have been at their nadir. All this has happened due to lack of insight and capabilities of Indian legislation makers. The vested interests have overshadowed public interest and the sole cyber law of India has become an instrumentality for mass deprivation and grave suppression of cyber rights of Indians. E-surveillance in India has come as a death knell for privacy rights in India.

Despite the assurances of the law minister Mr. Veerappa Molly regarding further amendments in the IT Act 2008, the same has been notified. This has officially given India the status of a chronic e-surveillance State. The unreasonable and unconstitutional e-surveillance and draconic police state powers conferred by the IT Act 2008 have become the law of the land.

Indians have ceased to hold some of the basic human rights in cyberspace and the omnipresent state powers have doomed the Indian cyber sphere. The accountability is missing and the reasonableness deliberately scrapped off from the provisions contained in the IT Act 2008. Even basic level encryption that is absolutely essential for safe and secure cyber space transactions has been under scrutiny. We have neither encryption standards in India nor encryption laws and regulations in India.

It is ironic that the Ministry of Law, Government of India and Mr. Molly finally gave away the freedom and security of India netizens in the hands of otherwise incompetent and inexperienced officials. How the Law Ministry allowed these unconstitutional provisions to be passed is still a bigger mystery?

The IT Act 2008 is a dark moment for the Indians wherein their rights have been curtailed on the one hand and the law has been made impotent on the other. Most of the offences have been made bailable and the deterrent has been lost forever. The misuse of the unbridled powers is very likely to happen as there are no safeguards and reasonable procedures that can prevent the same.

What would be the next step? Perhaps we would not be allowed to write articles like these in future as well if we keep on sleeping like we have been doing in the past. Alternatively, we must use self defence in cyberspace to defeat unconstitutional and illegal e-surveillance and Internet censorship exercises of Indian government and its agencies.