Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Google Personnel Booked Under Indian Cyber Law

According to the Hindu Temple of Georgia, thirteen of Google, Inc. and Google India Pvt. Ltd. owners, board members, and top executives are being prosecuted in Criminal Court in India for violations of the Indian Penal Code and the Information Technology Act of 2000. The potential criminal penalties faced range from two to five years imprisonment with fines as high as one Lakh Rupees (approximately US $2,250.00).

Earlier this year, a similar civil suit has been filed against the same individuals by the Hindu Temple of Georgia. The civil suit is asking the highest dollar amount in damages ever from Google in India - "50 Crores of Indian Rupees," (approximately US $10 Million!).

According to a July 16th 2009, letter from A.P. Jayachandran, the temple's legal advocate in India, "if the accused do not appear in the Judicial Magistrate No. III of Coimbatore, (Tamil Nadu, India on August 28th, 2009) arrest warrants will be issued."

The US temple's Chief Pundit, Viswanathan Lakshmanan, explained that the case stems from Google's alleged refusal to edit, or delete, content on Blogspot.com and Youtube.com, two websites owned by Google. The content is considered to be offensive and defamatory to the Atharva Vedic religion practiced by the Hindu Temple of Georgia located near Atlanta, which has temple operations in India.

The Criminal Case No. 36 of 2009 on file at the Judicial Magistrate No. III of Coimbatore, Tamil Nadu, India, contends that Google profits monetarily from the irresponsible and hasty electronic publishing of unverified facts and figures, and defamatory slanders, that are part of a criminal conspiracy against the temple, and as such it "amounts to Cyber Terrorism." The case asserts that due to the International Law on Cyber Space and Google maintaining a legal business entity in India, the American Google owners also fall under Indian jurisdiction.

The leader of the Hindu Temple, Dr. Commander Selvam Siddhar, said in an interview today in his temple that there had been an ongoing concerted effort to defame him and his temple by two Tamil speaking Indian-American co-conspirators residing in Georgia, Valmiki Raghunathan and Chandramohan Loganathan. In a 2006 Gwinnett County Police Incident Report Supplemental Investigation, Mr. Raghunathan admitted, "...that he was very upset...with Selvam." He also told an Atlanta Fox 5 television reporter that Dr. Commander "had just picked on the wrong person."

The Hindu Temple suspects that the two have spent countless hours creating a fictitious website for sending inflammatory emails, impersonating temple employees on blogsites, and posting thousands of scandalous, defamatory, and sometimes filthy, blogs which were hurtful and denigrating to the Temple and its founder.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Mass Surveillance Under The IT Act 2008: Some Curious Development

Hi all,This post would be about the recent amendments done in Information Technology Act (Amendment) 2008, India and some other curious stuff I have seen on the wikipedia entry of the same the last few days.

There was an Information Technology Amendment Bill 2008 which was passed by Govt. of India on 22nd of December 2008 . There was virtually no debate on the matter as it was passed within a group of 8 bills which were passed in a record 17 minutes. Now that the law has been passed it would take years or even decades to get it overturned. The mainstream press turned a blind eye to all the things. Not a single newspaper talked of this either before or after the event.

What also has been curiouser though is something I saw on Wikipedia. I have to confess that in my free time I edit or go through the articles of Wikipedia to enrich myself. The IT Act 2008 has been covered adequately in wikipedia with the Amendment as well. While going through the links, a specific link made by Praveen Dalal stood out as it was the sole voice at the time I was going through. Curiously though, the links have been removed. The only single post is by somebody named Shristi Sharma and the comment says it belongs to somebody else. The whole thing stinks. Whatever perspective that person had bought is now dead to us as the link no longer exists. Even google cache throws up empty.

If somebody has some more info. on the blog site, what happened at the blogspot site would be interested to know. For the other thing, just have to hang my head my shame. In hope of better times



Simple. Google platforms have been abused by the competitors of Praveen Dalal and Perry4Law. Since Google failed to remedy the abuses, as a protest all the blogs have been taken away from public domain. No further updates would be available. The entire history is available at http://www.inforum.in/legal-issues-dispute/3178-delhi-cyber-law-advocate.html#post12191

See the following also:

(1) http://lnav.wordpress.com/2009/05/05/abuses-of-google-are-jeopardising-its-reputation-and-trust/

(2) http://cyberlawsinindia.blogspot.com/2009/05/public-notice-for-users-of-lnav-blog.html

(3) http://cyberlawsinindia.blogspot.com/2009/05/abuses-of-google-are-jeopardising-its.html

Even cyber squatters are enjoying the hard earned fruits of others (Reclaiming India Blog) due to Google’s indifference.

Friday, July 24, 2009

Fake Website Creator Arrested

For MCA student Shubh Prakash Singh, it was a scheme that would rake in the moolah with every click of the mouse. The 25-year-old Delhi resident simply replicated the website of the Kolkata office of the Railway Recruitment Board and promised jobs to candidates. It was computer applications' at its most cunning, but the youth was found out. He was arrested and brought to Kolkata on Thursday.

Singh had launched the website www.railwayrecruitmentboardkolkata.com some months back and used an alias to cover his tracks. When the chairman of the Railway Recruitment Board (RRB) in Kolkata, D K Srivastava, spotted it, he immediately smelt something fishy, as the original website of the board is www.rrbkol.org. On February 20, he lodged a complaint with Ultadanga police.


Thursday, July 16, 2009

Royal Australian Air Force Website Defaced

An (alleged) Indian hacker broke into the Royal Australian Air Force website and defaced it with a threatening message aimed at the Australian Government. A spate of recent attacks on Indian students has attracted widespread news coverage and public condemnation in India. Many blame the Australian Government, despite Prime Minister Kevin Rudd's assurances that the incidents were being thoroughly investigated.

The Department of Defence confirmed that the hack took place between Monday and Tuesday, forcing it to pull the entire RAAF website offline and replace it with a page explaining that there had been "technical difficulties". The site has now been restored.

Defence would not say who it believed perpetrated the attack, how the hack took place or what the message said, but national Indian news service Timesnow.tv reported the message warned the Government to stop attacks on Indian students or else face further cyber attacks.

The message read: "This site has been hacked by Atul Dwivedi. This is a warning message to the Australian government. Immediately take all measures to stop racist attacks against Indian students in Australia or else I will pawn all your cyber properties like this one."


Monday, July 13, 2009

RFID Enabled Identity Cards Are Not Safe

I don’t buy into a lot of cyber-scares, but having my vital statistics accessible to anybody who feels like snatching it out of the air is definitely something I’d like to avoid. It’s not a new threat, but it seems that RFID-enhanced IDs are fast becoming the standard instead of a high-tech option. And since the security surrounding them is laughable to any serious hacker, it’s dangerous proposition to mandate them.

This AP story is a good summary of what’s been going on in the chipped ID world over the last couple years. If you’ve gotten a passport recently, or a driver’s license in certain states, chances are you’ve got RFID in there just waiting to beam its information to anyone who’s got $100 in easily-obtainable electronics.

Oh God, what can we do?! Well, it’s against the law to disable the RFID in any government-issued ID, so don’t you go off and put it in a microwave or something. But passports get a lot of use and sometimes accidents happen, like maybe you dropped your luggage on it? Or maybe you dropped a hammer on it, over and over?


Who Is behind The DDOS Attack?

The cyber-attacks that took down prominent US and South Korean Web sites in the last week have apparently ended, but the search for those responsible is only just beginning. North Korea has emerged as a likely culprit, especially among politicians, but was it really behind the attacks?

The country makes a convenient target for blame. After the six-nation talks broke down, the country reneged on its pledge to halt nuclear development and has been rattling the cages of the US and South Korea with a nuclear test and several short and medium-range missile launches. The latest launches, of seven missiles, were taking place as the cyber-attacks began on prominent US Web sites on July 4 - the country’s Independence Day holiday.


Monday, July 6, 2009

The Civil Services Bill, 2009 And Discriminatory Protection

TO beat the Prime Minister’s 100-day governance agenda, the mandarins in his office are working overtime to evolve an efficient and effective public service to serve the UPA mascot ~ aam aadmi. As part of this new initiative, these reformers have placed on the fast track the enactment of a public service code that will lay down a strict performance evaluation regime for promotions and postings of senior civil servants. But even before the process has been initiated, one breed of civil servants ~ those who hail from ‘God’s Own Country’ ~ seem to be exempt from this code. The Civil Services Bill, 2009, a draft of which is being fine-tuned, will enunciate this code. It will provide for parliamentary scrutiny on all bureaucratic appointments, transfers and postings. It is believed to be an improved version of the Public Service Bill, 2007 which did not materialise during the UPA’s previous dispensation. These provisions will first be applicable to IAS and IPS officers and may later be extended to all services that come under the all-India service category, including the Indian Forest Service.

The Bill, which incorporates various suggestions of the second Administrative Reforms Commission, envisages the setting up of a new Central Public Service Authority (CPSA). It will not only manage the civil services in a professional manner, but also serve the interests of civil servants and citizens through checks and balances.

Fixed tenure

IF the Civil Services Bill becomes an Act in its present form, all bureaucrats will get a minimum fixed tenure of three years. If any bureaucrat is transferred before three years, he or she will have to be compensated for the inconvenience and harassment caused due to such a move. This is a vague provision. What sort of ‘inconvenience and harassment’ can an official claim if he is transferred ten times in three years within the same building and retains the same residence?

As regards the top-level appointments in states, the Chief Secretary and Director-General of Police will be selected out of a panel of suitable candidates by a committee comprising the Chief Minister, the leader of the Opposition and the home minister. Currently, the Chief Minister alone decides on such appointments.

Similarly, the leader of the Opposition will also have a say in the appointment of the Cabinet Secretary who will be selected from a panel by a committee comprising the Prime Minister, the leader of the Opposition and the home minister. If the government deviates from these norms while appointing bureaucrats, it will have to inform Parliament about the reasons for doing so.

The new Bill will put in place a different kind of performance evaluation system. Unlike the current practice of Annual Confidential Reports which take a panoramic and often prejudiced view of a civil servant’s work, the new performance management system will evaluate officials on their job-specific achievements and the number of tasks that they perform as a team leader in a particular department.

The system will be managed by the CPSA which will work under a chairman whose rank will be equivalent to that of the Chief Election Commissioner. The CPSA, comprising three to five members, will have the power to recommend action against the public servants who do not adhere to the codes and values of public service. The Authority will assist and advise the Centre in all matters concerning the organisation, control, operation and management of public services and public servants.

The CPSA will also be the custodian of the public service code for civil servants. It will be framed to facilitate civil servants ‘in discharging official duties with competence and accountability; care and diligence; responsibility, honesty, objectivity and impartiality; without discrimination and in accordance with the law’. The incubating Public Service Bill, 2007 contained certain Values of Public Services: (a) patriotism and upholding national pride; (b) allegiance to the Constitution and the law of the nation; (c) objectivity, impartiality, honesty, diligence, courtesy and transparency; (d) absolute integrity. It is a travesty that after six decades, a law has to be enacted to inculcate values in our elite civil servants, indeed values that are expected of any ordinary citizen.

The reforms to develop the public services as ‘a professional, neutral, merit based and accountable instrument for promoting good governance and better delivery of services to the citizens’ is a bold and assertive step by the Prime Minister and his team and, therefore, deserves to be welcomed.

Quite the contrary

BUT what is actually happening, presumably with the knowledge of the Prime Minister, is quite the contrary. Of late, a mini-replica of ‘God’s Own Country’ has been created in New Delhi’s corridors of power, originating from the Prime Minister’s Office itself. Almost every conceivable top civil service post has been captured either by those who belong to ‘God’s Own Country’ or speak the language of that ‘land of lagoons’. The list looks endless and impressive ~ National Security Advisor; Secretary to the President of India; Principal Secretary to the Prime Minister; Cabinet Secretary; Home Secretary; Foreign Secretary and the Secretaries to the Government of India in the Departments of Civil Aviation, Coal, Mines, Labour and Employment, Legal Affairs, Overseas Indian Affairs, Urban Development, Space, Textiles and Heavy Industries. It looks as if those who were involved in this process of selection and placement ran out of candidates. Otherwise, the list would have been much longer. These ‘selectors’ are forever alert. In anticipation of the retirement of the incumbent Foreign Secretary at the end of July they have already announced his replacement ~ another lady from ‘God’s Own Country’!

No public service code or reform initiative will have any meaning or credibility if this debilitating parochial inbreeding doesn’t stop. The least that the Prime Minister can do is to submit this ‘parochial’ agenda to parliamentary scrutiny as envisaged in the proposed Civil Services Bill. The question is: will he or can he?



Indian National ICT Crisis Management Plan

The government of India (GOI) has accepted one more suggestion of Praveen Dalal, Managing Partner of Perry4Law and the Leading Techno-Legal Expert of India. It has recently finalised a “National Crisis Management Plan”, in a bid to protect IT infrastructure in critical sectors such as petroleum, aviation, banking, power and telecom.

This plan is in conformity with the suggestions of Praveen Dalal regarding protecting critical ICT infrastructure of India as well as formulating good crisis management plan for India. The details of the plan are still awaited but it would require tremendous expertise to meet the challenging requirements of an ambitious plan like this.

However, issues of human rights in cyberspace, strong cyber law, secure e-governance base, adequate cyber security, effective cyber forensics capabilities, etc have still not been resolved by GOI. In the absence of strong cyber law and cyber security as well as inadequate e-governance infrastructure, the crisis management plan of GOI is bound to fail. Further, this ambitious plan requires domain specific techno-legal expertise that is presently missing in India.

However, at least a beginning has been made in the right direction. But only time will tell whether this would be useful initiative of just another wishful claim by the GOI.


Saturday, July 4, 2009

E-Governance In India: Interview Of Praveen Dalal

E-Governance in India has failed by and large. Despite spending many thousand crores of money, the e-governance projects of India failed to make any significant impact. Of course, in exceptional cases, very few e-governance projects were successful in India. What failed the e-governance projects of India? Why these projects are not taking a concrete shape? What steps must be taken by Indian government to implement successful e-governance projects in India?


Friday, July 3, 2009

Failure Of 100 Days Workplan Of Indian Government: What Would Be The Next Carrot?

President of India has recently revealed the “Priorities” of Indian Government in the next five years/100 days. However as per experts within a week of time span (100 days starting from 5th June, 2009 and ending on 12th September, 2009) some of the “Promises” of the Indian government seems to be just “political jargon” alone.

Now even a larger community has shown its concerns regarding the feasibility and possible failure of the 100 days plan of Indian government. Even oppositions are coming from the government’s partners and ruling States themselves. For instance, human resource development minister Kapil Sibal had to clarify his stand on his reformative ideas when many States showed their concerns about the proposed reforms.

With the end result of 100 days agenda very apparent, various ministries are now trying to fool Indians by prolonging the “starting point” of the 100 days plan. The government is in no serious mood to actually implement the promises made by it on 4th June 2009. The actual period of 100 days started from 5th June 2009 and the government is just fooling Indians by now claiming that its ministries would release its 100 days plan very soon.

The 100 days period must expire on 12th September 2009. However, the ministries of UPA government have still not wakened to this reality. Rather they are in a mood to give another carrot to Indian citizens to chew by claiming that 100 days plan would be revealed very soon.

With the Parliament session in the corner, the true faces of many ministries would be revealed. The embarrassing moments for the Congress led government are definitely going to haunt the government till the next session of the Parliament. Further if the government is still not serious and honest than perhaps for the rest of its 5 years tenure. As far as carrots are concerned, the government must stop giving them to Indian citizens lest they complaint of perpetual indigestion.



Thursday, July 2, 2009

US Grappling With Privacy And Cyber Security Balancing Act

The Obama administration is moving cautiously on a new pilot program that would both detect and stop cyber attacks against government computers, while trying to ensure citizen privacy protections.

The pilot program, known as Einstein 3, was supposed to launch in February. But the Department of Homeland Security is still pulling the plan together, according to senior administration officials.

Einstein 3 has triggered debate and privacy concerns because the program will use National Security Agency technology, which is already being employed on military networks.

Any involvement of the NSA — the agency oversees electronic intelligence-gathering — in protecting domestic computer networks worries privacy and civil liberties groups who oppose giving such control to U.S. spy agencies.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

E-Commerce Law Of India Needs Urgent Amendment

E-commerce law in India is primitive says Praveen Dalal, India’s leading techno-legal expert. He has also suggested for enacting suitable cyber law, e-commerce law, e-governance law, etc to Union Minister for Law M Veerappa Moily.

E-commerce is in its preliminary stage in India. It has lots of potential but a weak and inadequate technology law regime is not allowing it to reap maximum benefits. If the government of India makes suitable laws, e-commerce can mature into a profitable industry in India.