Friday, November 23, 2012

International Telecommunications Regulations (ITRs) And Indian Response

The battle for controlling the Internet has already begun. As far as India is concerned, its proposal on International Telecommunications Regulations (ITRs), submitted last month to the International Telecommunications Union (ITU), has already faced stiff opposition from many segments.

The cyber law of India, incorporated as the information technology act, 2000 (IT Act 2000), has already crossed the limits of constitutionality and reasonableness. In fact, Praveen Dalal, managing partner of Perry4Law and CEO of PTLB, has already shown his dissatisfaction with the proposed IT Act 2008 amendments in the year 2008 itself. Some have even suggested that the cyber law of India should be repealed.

According to Praveen Dalal, “The IT Act 2000 is more on the side of a collection of “Legal Jargon” than a Law as contemplated by the Constitution of India. With the Information Technology Amendment Act, 2008 (IT Act 2008), even this Legal Jargon has become a “Legal Nuisance”. The net effect of the IT Act 2008 was that Indian Cyber Law ceased to be a “Reasonable and Constitutional Law”.

Indian police force is openly misusing the provisions incorporated by the IT Act 2008 amendments and are arresting netizens even for the slightest form of political and personal disagreement. In these circumstances the “Interim Proposal” of Indian Government to ITU is a great “Cause of Concern” opines Dalal.

Now even the European Parliament has warned that control of the Internet must be stopped from falling into the hands of ITU. The representatives of EU have demanded from the negotiators to block attempts by the ITU to gain ultimate control over the Internet. A conference in Dubai is expected to be held next month in this regard.

The World Conference on International Telecommunications (WCIT) will attempt to revise international telecommunication regulations, which have not been updated since 1988. However, European Parliament is not happy with some of the proposals presented ahead of WCIT. It believes that if these proposals are accepted,   this could result in the ITU itself becoming “the ruling power of the Internet”.

Important issues like Cyber Security, Cyber Forensics, E-Surveillance, Human Rights Protection in Cyberspace, International Cyber Crime Investigation Support, etc must be essential part of the proposed ITRs, suggest Dalal.

What would be the final outcome of these deliberations cannot be predicted at this stage but any attempt to regulate or curb Internet freedoms must be strongly protested against by both national and international civil liberty stakeholders.