Thursday, December 23, 2010

Investigation Agencies Of India Need Techno Legal Trainings

In this article my friend V.K.Singh has analysed the requirements of effective techno legal trainings of law enforcement agencies, CBI and intelligences agencies so that they can perform their duties more efficiently. These agencies also need good techno legal skills so that instead of demanding for weak encryption standards in India they may be able to deal with them in all situations.

Central bureau of investigation (CBI), India has learnt the cyber security lessons the hard way. It website has been claimed to be defaced by Pakistani crackers. It has been more than 20 days since the website of CBI was defaced. However, the initial defacement has raised a more serious issue.

The issue pertains to lack of cyber security capabilities of India in general and CBI in particular. India has been negligent in developing cyber security capabilities. Even if Indian ministers and bureaucrats talk about cyber security, it primarily pertains to website defacement.

Cyber security is a very wider and holistic concept. It has little to do with website defacement but primarily addresses the security of the entire cyberspace architecture. Surprisingly, CBI website is still offline and is down. Even the heavyweight departments like department of information and communication technology (DIT), India, national informatics centre (NIC), India, Indian computer emergency response team (CERT India), etc failed to do anything in this regard.

This has come as a severe blow to the cyber capabilities of CBI. A black spot on the otherwise good performance of CBI is lack of knowledge about techno legal issues like cyber law, cyber security, cyber forensics, etc. CBI must urgently develop cyber security and techno legal expertise.

For the time being there is no escape from the conclusion that law enforcement agencies and investigation agencies of India lack techno legal expertise in the fields like cyber law, cyber security and cyber forensics. This has drastically reduced their capabilities to solve cyber crimes through latest investigative technologies. They need good and effective training in this regard.

However, what is more worrying is the fact that even DIT, NIC and Cert India are no better situated. The website of CBI is a classic example of the same where India is hiding its lack of cyber capabilities behind the façade of security audit. After all security audit does not take months or years to finish if proper expertise is there.

This situation has created a serious threat to critical ICT infrastructure protection of India. With the present speed and efforts, Indian cyberspace is really vulnerable to all sorts of cyber attacks. India must immediately formulate an effective cyber security policy and follow the same in letter and spirit.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Telecom Policy Of India Is Anti Common Man

Department of telecommunications (DoT) India has been in controversies these days. These controversies were bound to arise due to defective, arbitrary and user unfriendly policies and strategies of DoT.

The telecom policy and respective notifications under the same, as issued by DoT from time to time, are seldom in public interest and are never for the benefit of telecom consumers. These policies are primarily drafted for the benefit of big telecom companies and self serving interests of DoT India.

Take few examples in this regard. Telemarketing nuisance is a well known fact in India. Neither DoT India nor telecom regulatory authority of India (TRAI) has done anything in this regard. Telemarketing woes and harassment would continue in India for at least five more years.

Similarly, the reverification requirements of DoT are arbitrary and anti consumer. Even if a person has deposited all her documents at the time of getting a connection, service providers like Vodafone India are harassing its users by passing the buck to DoT. If DoT does not take any action against companies like Vodafone, naturally DoT is the main culprit for harassing mobile users in India.

Another example is the number portability in India. DoT is extending the deadline for number portability in India from time to time. This gives mobiles users of India limited choice and force them to stick to their present service providers.

It seems the telecom policy of India is not at all meant for the common man. On the contrary it is harassing and troubling the common man.

Friday, December 17, 2010

Vodafone India Is Loosing Its Customers Over Reverification Issue

Vodafone India’s services are not upto the mark and its customer care services is even worst. The latest to add to the woes of Vodafone’s users is the reverification drive that has harassed many Vodafone customers. Surprisingly, even after submission of proper and complete documents, Vodafone customers are again asked to resubmit the same.

This has also damaged the reputation and trust of Vodafone and after the number portability comes into force, a dominant segment of Vodafone customers may switch to other mobile service providers.

Noted lawyer Praveen Dalal has even sent a legal notice to Vodafone India regarding its reverification process. After the legal notice, Vodafone India tried to pass the buck to department of telecommunication (DoT) India.

It seems Vodafone India has been negligent in handling the sensitive document of its users and thereby makes these users vulnerable to frauds and identity thefts.

Companies like Vodafone India are misusing the concepts of national security and public interest by citing DoT regulations. DoT has nowhere mentioned that Vodafone must dump the document submitted along with the connection and ask for them again and again.

By disconnecting user’s connections, Vodafone India is also violating the consumer laws of India and is engaging in unfair trade practices.

DoT, India must initiate an inquiry in this regard especially where the original documents submitted with Vodafone India have gone? In fact, these lost documents may pose many security related problems as well.

The matter has been brought to the knowledge of DoT Minister Mr. Kapil Sibal by Praveen Dalal and let us hope Mr. Sibal would bring some order in the otherwise unregulated world of Indian telecom sector in general and Vodafone India in particular.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Vodafone India Playing Security And National Interest Card

In this “Guest Column”, Praveen Dalal, Managing Partner of Perry4Law, shares some insights regarding the reverification drive of DoT India and service providers like Vodafone.

At last I got some insight about the “Reverification Drive” of Department of Telecommunication (DOT) India and mobile service providers like Vodafone. A person named Rahul Sindwani of Customer Care, Vodafone, finally contacted me to explain the rationale for unilateral disconnection exercise of mobile services of Vodafone India in the name of “Reverification”.

He informed that as per DOT guidelines they have instructions to disconnect all cellular connections, whose documentation is found non-complaint by the “authorities”. Now this is interesting on at least two counts. First, Vodafone has passed the buck upon DOT India for this whole mess. Secondly, who are these “Authorities” that see whether the documents in question are complaint or non complaint? Is it DOT, India or the Security and Intelligence Agencies?

It also raise an important question that if complete and proper documents in question have already been submitted at the time of getting connection, why Vodafone/DOT are again asking for the same? Without knowing who checked our documents and what deficiencies, if any, have been found by them, it is very difficult to believe the argument of DOT/Vodafone regarding lack of proper documentation. Perhaps, it is high time for a Right to Information Application (RTI Application) against DOT/Vodafone.

Vodafone also played the classic card of “Security” and “Public Interest” for this whole mess. Where is “Public Interest” in harassing law abiding and honest citizens and what “Security” purposes it is going to serve?

Meanwhile, I have once again communicated with Vodafone and asked for further details like the rationale for resubmission of documents, by whom my documents have been analysed, who are the authorities that analyses the documents, how would Vodafone indemnify the users whose documents have been misused and why should not a Consumer Case and Civil Proceeding be started against Vodafone.

I hope I would get some good, concrete and logical answers this time and not another eye wash response by Vodafone. Of course, the option of filing an RTI Application to elicit truth is always available to me.

Vodafone India Served Legal Notice For Reverification

In what seems to be a much required development, Praveen Dalal, a Supreme Court Lawyer, sent a show cause cum legal notice to Vodafone, Delhi regarding illegal and unreasonable demand for deposit of documents for reverification that have already been submitted by millions of Indians, including him.

It is also learnt that e-mail has also been sent to Minister Kapil Sibal in this regard bringing to his notice the arbitrary manner in which the entire reverification exercise is conducted by Vodafone, Delhi.

Mobile service provider like Vodafone have been using unreasonable and arm twisting techniques of disconnecting the connections of law abiding and honest users who have already submitted all the required documents at the time of getting connection.

Further, there is no assistance of any sort from Vodafone customer care that never replies back to the grievances of its users. This is definitely against the license terms and conditions that asks service providers like Vodafone to provide qualitative services to its users and resolves all their grievances and disputes.

In the past the department of telecommunications (DoT) has been too friendly with telecom companies and this is the reason why controversial issues like 2G scam took place.

DoT India must establish a procedure where the illegal and unreasonable practices adopted by telecom service providers can be analysed and curbed. Presently, the service providers have a free hand and this is a nightmare for the end users.

With Kapil Sibal as the new Minister, we can expect efficiency, transparency and accountability of telecom dealings. Although he has much more important tasks at hand, it would be a good idea if he analyses the reverification menace created by service providers like Vodafone as well.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Complaint Against Indian Department Of Telecommunications Filed At DARPG

Department of telecommunication (DoT) India has issued instructions to mobile service providers to “reverify” it pre paid connection subscribers. Even if a consumer had duly submitted relevant and complete documents at the time of pre paid connections, she is again asked to resubmit the same.

This is against the principles of good governance and is a bad policy decision as it is harassing law abiding and honest people. So far millions of connections have been disconnected due to this paranoid drive of DoT, India.

In a welcome step, Praveen Dalal, Supreme Court Lawyer, filed a complaint at DARPG against DoT/Vodafone. He has also sent a show cause cum legal notice to Vodafone.

He has maintained that this process of reverification is violating the consumer law and other laws of India. He has also raised issue of “indemnification’ in case either the previously submitted documents or newly asked documents are misused by any person.

In case of misuse, both mobile service providers like Vodafone and DoT India must be held responsible for the loss arising out of misuse of such documents.

If this drive of reverification continues, consumer cases and civil proceeding may be filed by thousands of people and this situation must be avoided by government of India. When the national litigation policy of India (NLPI) is looking forward for fewer litigation matters, bad policy decisions by DoT India may frustrate the whole purpose.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Critical ICT Infrastructure Protection In India

Critical infrastructure protection (CIP) in India (CIP in India) is an essential part of homeland security of India. Homeland security is assuming importance these days in India. However, homeland security of India needs urgent rejuvenation as the same is not up to the mark. As the concept is new, it would be fair if India take two or more years to streamline its homeland security.

Further, cyber security issues are also closely related to homeland security of India. On the front of cyber security as well India has to cover a long distance. India must develop cyber security capabilities as soon as possible.

Cyber Security and Homeland Security are in infancy stage in India, says Praveen Dalal, Managing Partner of Perry4Law and leading techno legal expert of India. Both of them are very important to preserve India’s Critical ICT Infrastructure Protection. Further, India also needs a separate Framework for Cyber Security, CIP and Homeland Security issues, suggest Praveen Dalal.

With the growing cyber threats against India like cyber terrorism, cyber warfare, cyber espionage, etc, it is very much required to have good cyber security strategy in India. India also needs to formulate suitable ICT policy covering all these crucial issues.

However, of all the requirements the most important one pertains to techno legal skill development in India. Indian government or its agencies do not have sufficient numbers of skill workforce to deal with issues like cyber law, cyber security, cyber forensics, cyber warfare, cyber terrorism, cyber espionage, etc.

We have just a single techno legal cyber security research, training and education centre (CSRTCI) in India. The CSRTCI is managed by Perry4Law Techno Legal Base (PTLB), one of the techno legal segments of Perry4Law and spearheaded by Praveen Dalal himself.

Finally, India has also not shown much interest in formulation of techno-legal crisis management plan (CMP). Although many talks in this regard have been undertaken, a concrete action in this regard is still awaiting.

Home Minister P Chidambaram must take initiative regarding cyber security, cyber forensics, cyber warfare, etc. Home Ministry is currently undertaking projects like Natgrid, CCTNS, etc and it would be a good idea to cover areas like CIP, homeland security, and CMP as well.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Police, Lawyers And Judges Training In India By PTLB

Technology related or digital issues are not popular either among the legal or among the judicial community of India. This is the reason why cyber law and cyber forensics related issues are seldom found mention in the courts. However, the future belongs to technology related disputes and their resolution.

While foreign countries are giving lots of emphasis to cyber related education and training, India is not doing enough in this regard. Crucial training areas like lifelong learning or continuing legal education (CLE) are still missing in India.

The bar council of India (BCI) is the main authority that is responsible for improving standards of legal professionals in India. Till now, BCI has not been able to materialise its objective of providing scientific and technical professional training to lawyers in India.

The problem seems to be lack of management and expertise in this regard in India. Even Law Ministry of India has not been able to contribute significantly in this direction. Although Law Minister Veerappa Moily has promised many legal and judicial reforms, yet they are still in pipeline. Till these reforms are actually implemented, legal and judicial standards in India cannot improve.

Even the law enforcement agencies of India are not aware of cyber crimes and cyber law related issues. They do not know how to deal with cyber related issues much less how to handle digital evidence. There is also lack of proper cyber law and cyber forensics training for law enforcement agencies of India.

On the other hand, other nations are working really hard in this regard. Take the example of U.S. Attorney's. The U.S. Attorney's Office has sponsored its first "Cyber Crime, Electronic Evidence, and Cyber Security Training" for local and federal law enforcement officials. The purpose of the training is to equip law enforcement agencies of US to deal with cyber crimes.

Investigation of cyber crimes, use of digital evidence and lawful search and seizure of computers is very essential for law enforcement agencies. At Perry4Law Techno Legal Base (PTLB) we provide techno legal research, training and education to law enforcement agencies, public prosecutors and lawyers, judicial officers, corporate executives, law graduates, professionals, etc.

The best part of these trainings is that they are all managed in an online environment through our “Online Platform”. Application form for the enrollment to various courses, internships and trainings can be downloaded from here. You must duly fill the form and submit the same along with the prescribed fees. For more details regarding the fees, duration of courses, natures of courses, etc see the FAQs.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Cyber Security Of India Is In Bad Shape

The recent defacement of the website of central bureau of investigation (CBI), India has once again shown the weakness of cyber security of Indian government websites. To further embarrass the situation, the website of CBI is still not operational.

However, besides the weak cyber security, India is also suffering from grossly deficient cyber law and inadequate cyber forensics capabilities. There are many reasons why Indian cyber law, cyber security and cyber forensics failed. But the prime reason for the failure of cyber law, cyber security and cyber forensics in India is lack of interest of Indian government and Parliament of India. It seems India has turned a blind eye towards these crucial issues.

Further, industrial lobbying has been weakening Indian economy and Indian national, internal and external security. Even the policy issues of cyber law, cyber security and cyber forensics have been greatly influenced by industrial lobbying to the detriment of national interest of India.

According to Praveen Dalal, Managing Partner of techno legal ICT Law Firm Perry4Law and Supreme Court Lawyer, India is not very sensitive towards cyber law, cyber security and cyber forensics requirements. The IT Act 2000 is a poorly drafted law and badly implemented legislation. It is weak and ineffective in dealing with growing Cyber Crimes in India as it is the most “Soft and Cyber Criminal Friendly Legislation” of the World. There is an urgent need to “Amend” the present Cyber Law of India and make it Robust, Effective and Stringent, suggests Praveen Dalal.

So why is there a gloomy picture of cyber law, cyber security and cyber forensics issues in India? This is because there is a lack of adequate research and training in these crucial fields. Barring few exceptional training institution, India is not good at training of its manpower in field like cyber law, cyber security and cyber forensics. Further, there is just a single techno legal cyber security research, training and educational centre in India (CSRTCI) managed by Perry4Law Techno Legal Base (PTLB).

Absence of skilled manpower leaves India vulnerable to cyber attacks including cyber terrorism, cyber warfare, cyber espionage, etc. The fact is that we are not at all prepared to tackle issues like cyber terrorism and information warfare.

The threats of cyber terrorism in India are increasing and India is not prepared to deal with the same. We are also not serious about information warfare against India. Even the critical ICT infrastructure protection in India needs special attention.

It is high time for India to consider these issues as soon as possible and come up with a good and effective cyber security policy in India.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

UID Project And UIDAI Are Instrumentalities Of Social Oppression

Aadhar project of India or UID project of India is often portrayed as a tool of social inclusion. But this is just a façade. The truth is that Aadhar is a tool and instrumentality of social oppression and social exploitation of Indians.

To achieve this exploitative purpose, unique identification authority of India (UIDAI) has been established. Despite the ferocious protests by civil liberty activists, neither Aadhar project nor UIDAI are empowered by a legal framework. Even the National Identification Authority of India Bill 2010 (Bill) has failed to provide adequate safeguards against privacy violations and data breaches.

Interestingly, even if the Bill proposed by UIDAI is made an enforceable law, it still remains unconstitutional. According to Praveen Dalal, Supreme Court Lawyer and leading Techno Legal Expert of India, even if the Bill becomes an enforceable piece of Legislation, it still is vulnerable to the attacks of “Unconstitutionality”. In the absence of “Proper Laws and Adequate Safeguards”, both Aadhar Project and UIDAI would remain “Unconstitutional”, warns Praveen Dalal.

The privacy rights issues are currently pending before the Supreme Court of India. It would be a good idea to strengthen Privacy and Data Protection Laws of India by “Judicial Activism” in the absence of “Parliamentary Will”, suggest Praveen Dalal.

Behind the façade of social inclusion and welfare scheme, the naked face of Aadhar and UIDAI is very apparent. Aadhar project is an instrumentality of e-surveillance in India. Its only purpose is to serve the unlawful interests of intelligence agencies of India and law enforcement demands in India.

Let us not be fooled by the façade of social inclusion and welfare scheme and ask the government of India to enact suitable and adequate privacy and data protection laws before Aadhar is fully operational in India.

Friday, November 26, 2010

Analysis Of National Food Security Bill 2010 By Praveen Dalal

In this “Guest Column”, Mr. Praveen Dalal, Advocate Supreme Court of India and Managing Partner of Techno Legal Law Firm Perry4Law, has provided a brief overview of the “Salient Features” of the National Food Security Bill 2010.

Right to Food is not expressly mentioned as a Fundamental Right under the Constitution of India (COI). However, it is “implicit” in Articles 21, 39(a) and 47 of the COI. In fact, the Supreme Court of India (SCI) is presently dealing with this issue in PUCL v. Union of India (Writ Petition (Civil) No. 196 of 2001). Though the judgement is still awaited, interim orders have been passed from time to time by SCI in this regard.

Meanwhile to give a “Statutory Recognition” to Right to Food as well as to meet the mandates of Articles 21, 39(a) and 47 of the COI, the Government of India (GOI) has drafted the National Food Security Bill 2010. The Bill, when converted into an Act, would apply to the whole of India unless the Central Government excludes its operations under the “Prescribed Rules”.

The “Salient Features” of the Bill are as follow:

(1) Assured Food Security To BPL Families: Every BPL Family would be entitled to 25 kg foodgrains such as rice and / or wheat at subsidised issue prices fixed from time to time. Depending upon the availability, additional allocations of foodgrains may also be made at prescribed prices.

(2) Targeted Public Distribution System (TPDS): Centre and States would jointly implement a TPDS to ensure Food Security for BPL Segment. The Centre would allocate the required quantity of foodgrains to States in this regard.

The State Government may, with its own budgetary allocation and independent of the TPDS, extend benefits of similar scheme to other families not covered by the Bill.

(3) Assignment Of Responsibilities: The State Governments may further assign, by notification, specific responsibilities for implementation of TPDS to the Panchayati Raj Institutions and Urban Local Bodies.

(4) Transparency And Accountability: The Central Government and State Governments shall take necessary steps within their respective areas of responsibility to ensure accountability and transparency in the PDS. All PDS-related records are to be placed in the public domain and open to public scrutiny.

(5) Allocation By Central Government: The Central Government is responsible for Procurement, Distribution and Transportation of Foodgrains to State Governments. In case of inability to do so, it must compensate State Government(s) “Monetarily” through Central Food Security Fund.

(6) Role Of State Governments: The State Governments must implement and monitor various schemes to ensure Food Security. Regarding TPDS the State Government(s) must “Coordinate” and “Manage” all issues pertaining to actual and effective providing of Foodgrains to BPL Families.

(7) Use Of Information And Communication Technology: To make TPDS operations transparent and efficient, State Governments shall introduce use of information and communication technologies (ICT) in all TPDS transactions.

(8) Food Security Allowance: The concerned State Government shall also be responsible for making payment of food security allowance to identified BPL families in case of failure to supply in any month the entitled quantities of foodgrains to such families. Each State/Union Territory shall set up a dedicated Food Security Allowance Fund for the purpose.

(9) Vigilance Committees: For ensuring transparency in functioning of TPDS and accountability of the functionaries, every State Government shall set up a Vigilance Committee for each fair price shop. The Committee would certify monthly regarding compliance of the scheme.

(10) Redressal of Grievances: State Government shall set up effective institutional mechanisms at various levels to resolve any grievances regarding the TPDS.

(11) Social Audits: Periodic social audits of functioning of fair prices shops/TPDS and OWS shall be conducted and reports of such social audit shall be placed in the public domain as prescribed in the Rules.

(12) Penalties for Non-Compliance: Subject to the provisions of section 20, whosoever contravenes the provisions of this Act shall be liable for penalties as provided under Section 7 of the Essential Commodities Act, 1955. Notwithstanding anything contained in any Act for the time being in force, offences relating to PDS shall be cognizable.

(13) Act to have Overriding Effect: The provisions of this Act or the Schemes made thereunder shall have effect notwithstanding anything inconsistent therewith contained in any other law for the time being in force or in any instrument having effect by virtue of such law.

Prima Facie the Bill seems to be a good step in the right direction. However, many crucial and complicated legal issues have yet to be resolved by the Bill. Issues like transparency, accountability, e-governance and use of ICT, dispute resolution mechanism, Centre-State Coordination, actions against corrupt practices, etc are still to be incorporated in proper perspective and in greater details.

However, this exercise is a welcome step and I wish all the best and great success to this initiative.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Digital Preservation In India Needs Reforms

Digital Preservation (DP) in India has not received the attention that it deserves. There is neither a regulatory framework for the same nor is it pursued with any seriousness under the national e-governance plan (NEGP) of the department of information technology (DIT), India. In the absence of ICT policy of India, digital preservation has still to cover a long gap.

The only solace is that a national digital preservation programme (NDPP) of India has been launched by Indian government. However, the NDPP seems to have stagnated with no development happening in this regard.

The DP initiatives of India are facing many road blocks that are preventing them from materialising in India. For instance, intellectual property rights (IPRs) are commonly found conflicting with DP initiatives. Further, with the rapid advancement of technology day by day, old applications and methods are becoming obsolete. We need to upgrade them from time to time. We also need to change form of various IPRs protected works from one form to another. This sometimes results in IPRs violations.

In short, IPRs issues in the digital era and cyber space are difficult to manage and we need both good policies and laws to manage the same effectively.

According to Praveen Dalal, advocate Supreme Court of India and leading cyber law expert of India, "DP issues would become more complicated with the enactment of laws like Digital Millennium Copyright Act, 1998 (DMCA). Efforts are in the pipeline for adoption of an efficient Digital Rights Management (DRM) system in India. This seems to be a step in the direction of protecting fast-growing Indian digital entertainment and media industry. However, in the absence of good ICT Policy and effective legal framework, these initiatives may not produce the desired results, suggests Dalal.

The stagnation of the NDPP cannot be removed till the government of India takes some active steps in the direction of utilising the services of experts who are familiar with this aspect. Till now no such serious efforts have been undertaken by Indian government.

DIT India Must Be Accountable To PMO

Ever since India has associated itself with information and communication technology (ICT), it has gained a lot in terms of reputation, money, projects, etc. However, India’s dominant position has almost slipped away from its hands thanks to the corruption, lack of accountability and absence of transparency in e-governance initiatives of India. India has become technologically bankrupt due to these factors.

The department of information technology of India (DIT India) has received vast amount of autonomy, finance and powers. However, it failed to bring home the much needed expertise, results and success. The chief reason for the same is that the prime minister’s office (PMO) does not care to look into the matters, policies and laws made by the DIT India.

No time in the past the prime minister of India Dr. Manmohan Singh took any preventive and stern action against the falling standards of DIT. Being the prime minister of India, it is his primary responsibility to ensure transparency and accountability in all departments or ministries.

Some serious issues that PMO must urgently address are:

(1) Formulation of effective and sound ICT Policy of India,

(2) Formulation of effective cyber laws of India,

(3) Ensure enactment of a lawful interception law in India,

(4) Ensure enactment of privacy laws and data protection in India,

(5) Ensure good and effective cyber security and cyber forensics capabilities, etc.

These are some of the ICT related issues that the PMO must urgently consider before it is too late. Further, although the PMO is busy in many others, perhaps more important tasks, yet the situation has become so alarming that if immediate steps are not taken, PMO may have to answer some bitter questions in future.

Cyber Law Of India Requires Amendments Says Praveen Dalal

Cyber law of India is governed by information technology act 2000 (IT Act 2000). It is good step in the right direction but with passage of time it has become redundant and burdensome. Although a chance was given to the department of information technology (DIT) India yet it failed to utilise the same.

According to Praveen Dalal, Supreme Court Advocate and leading Cyber Law Specialist of India, the information technology amendment act 2008 (IT Act 2008) further diluted the criminal sanctions against cyber criminals. By making many of the cyber crimes “bailable”, the amendments have diluted the deterrent effect of the cyber law of India.

While countries all over the world are strengthening their cyber laws, India on the other hand is going in the opposite direction. What is more surprising is how Law Ministry of India in general and Veerappa Moily in particular approved such a distorted and undesirable law. By approving these damaging amendments, Law Ministry has done more harm to the cyber infrastructure of India.

So what is the solution for this undesirable position? According to Praveen Dalal the only solution seems to make proper, contemporary and relevant amendment sin the IT Act, 2000 of India. Since it is the primary responsibility of the Legislative Department of Law Ministry to update laws, the initiative must start from their side, suggests Dalal.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Google Is Playing Big Brother Role In India

Till now it is very clear that something is absolutely wrong at Google’s end. There has been growing incidences of Internet censorship in India by Google. The do not be evil policy of Google has long been considered to be unenforceable by Google. It is also a controversial policy and many people rightly and correctly consider the same to be just a slogan that is not actually acted upon by Google.

Google has been manipulating Internet search and news search by methods like declaring them “spam blogs”, removing appeared news and search results, preventing news items from appearing, allowing the search engine optimisation (SEO) people to manipulate Google’s results, etc.

Besides there are other act and omissions of Google that goes against the do not be evil policy. It seems Google is not very much interested in the privacy and anonymity of its users. Similarly, anti trust activities have also been attributed to it in the past. Google has also been sued all over the world for its data gathering activities that went far beyond wardriving.

In a trade off between civil liberties and commercial interest, Google has definitely chosen the latter. It is high time for Google to declare its priorities now so that Internet users can form a reasoned judgment before engaging with Google.

Our latest article that has been censored by Google news is titled e-governance and ICT utilisation in India. The winter session of the parliament of India is going on and it is very important to bring to its attention the policy lapses and corrupt practices adopted in India.

It is obvious that government of India would not be interested in bringing these facts before the parliament giving additional ammunition to the opposing party. However, what alliance and interest Google has in this scenario is still not understandable. Google please do not be evil.

Friday, November 12, 2010

India Is Not Digitally Sound

Although India may be providing many information and communication related (ICT) services yet when it comes to being an ICT superpower India stands nowhere. Whether it is the failed e-governance of India, ailing e-infrastructure, absence of ICT policy in India, absence of privacy and data protection laws in cyberspace, excessive e-surveillance in India without any lawful interception law in India, falling e-readiness rank and many more such issues, India has failed on all counts.

The problem with India, like Praveen Dalal says, is that India does not have an effective and nationally applicable ICT Policy. Further, the absence of such ICT policy and lack of control of prime minister’s office (PMO) of India over organisations like department of information technology (DIT) India is further increasing the woes of India.

On the legal and judicial side also there is not even a single e-court in India. Even there is no committee or group that is managing the e-court project currently. Further, India is also not famous for online dispute resolution (ODR) as it is still struggling to bring in order its outdated alternative dispute resolution (ADR) arbitration law. Obviously, there is a lack of good techno legal expertise in India to manage ambitious projects like e-courts and ODR. There is just a single e-courts and ODR training and consultation centre managed by techno legal law firm Perry4Law.

The truth is that digital issues like cyber law, cyber security, cyber forensics, digital preservation, lawful e-surveillance, etc are presently well beyond the capabilities of India. With a lack of political will and bureaucratic apathy, the scene may not change for the next five or ten years.

This technological bankruptcy of India can be removed only if the prime minister of India Dr. Manmohan Singh and his office exercises some sort of direct control over DIT, India. Further, there is also a pressing need to enter into good public private partnership (PPP) between the PMO and private players directly and over and above the DIT, India.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

PMO Must Take E-Governance Of India Seriously

E-governance in India is passing through a bad phase as the national e-governance plan (NEGP) has failed to make any substantial impact. As a natural result, the e-infrastructure in India has also failed to develop to its full potential. The fact is that despite all media glare, e-governance is India is badly ailing.

Indian e-governance initiatives are confused with excessive technology procurement as opposed to management of governmental functions. Computerisation of traditional governmental and public functions is not e-governance. We have to empower the citizens with the power of information and communication technology (ICT).

The citizens of India cannot be empowered till we make necessary ICT policy of India and dedicatedly pursue the same. The department of information technology (DIT) India has failed to do the needful in this regard. None of the mission mode projects mentioned in the NEGP have been successfully completed.

All the so called success stories of e-governance in India are on papers along with no real and effective benefits to the common man living at the grassroots level. Of course, successful e-governance projects like MCA21 are also there. Besides, there are some very selective projects as well that have benefited end users due to use of e-governance.

However, by and large e-governance has failed in India. The government of India is not willing to formulate suitable e-governance policies at the national level. Further, due to growing corruption and lack of transparency and accountability, e-governance funds are never utilised in real life.

Till the prime minister’s office (PMO) keeps its eyes closed towards the corruption and lack of accountability and transparency that is failing the e-governance initiatives of India, nothing is going to change. Is PMO listening or seeing or is it waiting for another financial scam?

Privacy Law in India: Need Of The Hour

Ministry Of Personnel, Public Grievances and Pensions (MPPGP) is managing many crucial socio-legal aspects in India. For instance, it is managing crucial issues like public grievances, personnel recruitment and training, transparency in governance, etc. In all these spheres it is playing a great and successful role.

The Ministry is also managing many crucial and far reaching legislations or proposed future legislations. For instance, the Right to Information Act, 2005 (RTI Act) is managed by the Ministry. Further, the Ministry has also proposed a law for the protection of whistleblowers in India. It is named as the Public lnterest Disclosure and Protection to Persons Making the Disclosure Bill. 2010. The Ministry has also set the ball rolling by bringing forward a “concept paper” on privacy laws and data protection issues in India.

However, the Ministry is not paying enough attention to one of the most important aspects of human life. It is not interested in bringing forward laws that can protect the dignity and safety of Indian citizens. For instance, it has not taken enough initiatives for enacting privacy laws in India and data protection laws in India. Privacy and data protection are very essential to maintain the dignity of any individual.

Similarly, the Ministry is not appreciating that corruption is eating Indian economy and there is an emergent need to protect few brave and honest disclosures by whistleblowers. By keeping in abeyance the whistleblower law for long, it is putting at risk such honest people.

It would be better if the MPPGP plays a pro active role in the directions of privacy protection and whistleblower protection as well. The overall performance of the Ministry is undermined by these two issues and issues similar to them.

Has E-Court Committee Of India Been Dissolved?

Use of information and communication technology (ICT) for judicial functioning in India has long become overdue. This does not mean that Indian courts have not witnessed any computerisation at all. They have definitely improved a lot on this front but they are far away from being called e-courts. As per the status report on the e-court mission mode project of India released in October 2010, we are still waiting for the establishment of first e-court of India.

An e-court committee was set up in December 2004 to assist the chief justice of India (CJI) in formulating a national policy on computerisation of Indian judiciary and advice on technological, communication and management-related changes. The tenure of the committee was initially set for one year and it was renewed from time to time till February 2010. There is no news of renewal of its tenure since February 2010 and it is safe to conclude that the Supreme Court e-court committee of India has been dissolved.

Meanwhile the national litigation policy of India (NLPI) was released in India. According to the NLPI, there will be an Empowered Committees to monitor the implementation of this Policy and accountability. Meanwhile, the Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs approved an amount of 935 crore budget for implementing the e-courts project in the India.

However, even after almost two months not even the Empowered Committee has been constituted by the Department of Justice. The empowered committee will be responsible for providing strategic direction and guidance to the e-court project. In the absence of the empowered committee, the e-court project cannot start.

There is no shortage of financial resources and all it requires is a will to implement the e-court project of India. With a lack of techno legal expertise in this regard as well lack of ICT impetus in the NLPI, India may not see the first e-court for few more years. Law Minister Veerappa Moily must actively take part in this much needed judicial reform initiative that is going to die otherwise.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Aadhar And UIDAI Are Booty Sharing Methods

Unique identification project of India (UID project) or as popularly known as Aadhar project of India has never got a smooth sail. This is because of the controversial nature of the project as well as due to the arbitrary manner of its launch. Aadhar is managed by Nandan Nilekani led unique identification authority of India (UIDAI) that has no legal sanction. So much so that even after the proposed National Identification Authority of India Bill 2010 the project still is unconstitutional and illegal.

Surprisingly, till now the UID project has not shown any of the requisite parameters that allow it to receive huge public money that government of India is very willing to give charitably. In the absence of any transparency and accountability, the whole project seems to be “booty sharing” by big companies at the cost of public interest.

This is also evident the way finance ministry is allotting public money to UIDAI even in the absence of any legal framework. Further, the UIDAI is itself deviating from its adopted policies and guidelines. For instance, UIDAI is now backing away from its open technological standards and is indulging in the vendor lock-in tactics. The intention is to simply share the hard earned public money with few even when freely available software options are readily available.

The latest in the booty sharing episode is even more surprising. It has now come to light that the L-1 Identity Solutions, headquartered in Stamford, Connecticut, and another U.S.-headquartered company, lead two of the three vendor consortia, which have been “prequalified” by the UIDAI for the first phase of an effort to register Indian residents with a 12-digit unique number using biometric identifiers. It is ironical that the countries who discarded similar projects themselves are implementing the same in India.

No matter how much controversial the Aadhar project and UIDAI may get, we Indians have a habit of discussing the same and then forget about it. Indians wake up before it is too late or another multi billion rupees scam hits you.

Scrap All India Bar Examination (AIBE)

All India bar examination (AIBE) was imposed upon the fresh law graduates by pretending it to be a quality maintaining step. However, from the very beginning AIBE was neither a qualitative endeavour nor fair, transparent and sufficient enough to meet the international quality standards.

Despite this the bar council of India (BCI) adamantly pursued this initiative that ultimately proved a bane to fresh law students. However, what is more surprising is the fact that Supreme Court of India allowed the delaying tactics of BCI and perpetuated injustice to fresh law graduates by keeping them away from their legitimate and statutory right to practice in courts.

To make the matter worst, law ministry of India did not intervene in the matter. Although the law minister Veerappa Moily has been advocating many judicial and legal reforms yet it seems the law ministry itself needs some reforms.

The national litigation policy of India (NLPI) although mandates a speedy trial as well as prohibition against unnecessary litigation and case dragging yet both Supreme Court of India as well as law ministry were found flouting the NLPI themselves. Neither the Supreme Court nor law ministry took any stringent stand against this gross mismanagement and delaying tactics of BCI that has put law graduates in a real fix.

The least Supreme Court and law ministry can do to mitigate the plight of law graduates is to declare the AIBE illegal and redundant till BCI is well prepared and is capable of holding the same.

Monday, November 8, 2010

National E-Governance Plan Of India (NEGP)

Perry4Law and Perry4Law Techno Legal Base (PTLB) have been providing annual ICT Trends in India since 2006. According to Praveen Dalal, managing partner of Perry4Law and leading techno legal expert of India, these trends prove that India has not paid enough attention towards formulating effective ICT Policy and sound e-governance strategy in India. Naturally, e-governance initiatives in India are failing. My friend Gunjan Singh has analysed the position in this regard in India in this article.

E-governance in India is ailing despite all glorious and false media propaganda. The chief parameter of the success of any e-governance plan is to analyse its e-infrastructure achievements. In India, e-infrastructure is in real mess.

Despite so many years and crores of public money, India has still to enact a versatile and robust ICT policy. In the absence of an ICT policy of India, the e-governance initiatives of India have failed to materialise.

It is in this background we have to analyse the role played by the department of information technology (DIT), India. Although DIT has formulated the national e-governance plan yet it would be more prudent to call it no e-governance plan of India (NEGP). This is because the common man and grass root level consumers have not been benefited at all by the e-governance initiatives of India.

Of course, we have some good achievements like MCA 21 as well. But by and larger, e-governance in India has failed to materialise. Corruption, lack of transparency and accountability, lack of time bound results, lack of progress analysis and punishments for deviations, etc are some of the reasons why we have no e-governance success in India.

It is highly unfortunate that the prime minister’s office (PMO) has no control over DIT in general and minister A. Raja in particular. The PMO could have played a better role by keeping a close vigil at the initiatives of DIT but it preferred to keep a mum and turn a blind eye towards all sorts of incompetencies, corruption and scams.

National E-Governance Plan Of India Has Failed

E-governance in India is ailing despite all glorious and false media propaganda. The chief parameter of the success of any e-governance plan is to analyse its e-infrastructure achievements. In India, e-infrastructure is in real mess.

Despite so many years and crores of public money, India has still to enact a versatile and robust ICT policy. In the absence of an ICT policy of India, the e-governance initiatives of India have failed to materialise.

It is in this background we have to analyse the role played by the department of information technology (DIT), India. Although DIT has formulated the national e-governance plan yet it would be more prudent to call it no e-governance plan of India (NEGP). This is because the common man and grass root level consumers have not been benefited at all by the e-governance initiatives of India.

Of course, we have some good achievements like MCA 21 as well. But by and larger, e-governance in India has failed to materialise. Corruption, lack of transparency and accountability, lack of time bound results, lack of progress analysis and punishments for deviations, etc are some of the reasons why we have no e-governance success in India.

It is highly unfortunate that the prime minister’s office (PMO) has no control over DIT in general and minister A. Raja in particular. The PMO could have played a better role by keeping a close vigil at the initiatives of DIT but it preferred to keep a mum and turn a blind eye towards all sorts of incompetencies, corruption and scams.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Indian Cyberspace Is Vulnerable To Cyber Attacks

Cyber security and cyber forensics are two essential components of cyberspace. At the same time, cyber security and cyber forensics must be supplemented with strong cyber law. Unfortunately, India has none.

India has a weak and cyber criminal’s friendly cyber law legislation known as information technology act, 2000 (IT Act 2000). Though originally it was somewhat stringent yet with the passage of the information technology act 2008 (IT Act 2008) it has become an impotent and useless law in this regard. Now cyber criminals can commit almost any cyber crime in India and go free. This is so because the IT Act 2008 made almost all the cyber crime bailable.

As far as cyber security is concerned, Indian cyberspace has been continuously targeted by cyber criminals. The computer systems located at sensitive and strategic locations are frequently breached and compromised. Even the prime minister’s office (PMO) has been attacked and successfully compromised by cyber criminals. India urgently needs effective cyber security measures.

On the front of cyber forensics as well, India has performed poorly. There is an absence of cyber forensics capabilities in India. We have to depend upon foreign corporations and universities to do cyber forensics job for us. Even the police force in India is ignorant about cyber crimes and cyber forensics basics.

It is high time to make effective cyber law, ensure good cyber security and develop sufficient cyber forensics capabilities in India.

E-Governance In India Has Failed

E-governance is an effective tool for bringing transparency and productivity in governmental and private sector workings. However, implementing an e-governance strategy require good planning and effective implementation.

The success of any e-governance initiative can be measured by the e-infrastructure it has created. In India e-infrastructure is in a big mess. Take the example of e-courts in India. India is claiming to have established many e-courts all over India. However, there is not even a single e-court in India till now. The e-infrastructure woes of Indian judicial system are well known.

Further, India has still to enact a versatile and robust ICT policy. In the absence of an ICT policy in India, the e-governance initiatives of India have failed to materialise. Whether it is national e-governance plan (NEGP) or other schemes launched by the department of information technology (DIT) India, none of them have materialised so far. Whatever achievement in this regard has been obtained, the same is on papers alone.

Red tape and corruption are the main reason for the failure of e-governance in India. Also there is no transparency and accountability in India that results in wasting of crores of public money. The commonwealth game scam, 2G spectrum scam and many more unrevealed scams have happened and are presently happening in India.

Instead of bringing the culprits before justice, the Indian government is just portraying an India shining picture. The true face is, however, very gruesome and ugly that our prime minister has failed to see.

Friday, November 5, 2010

Natgrid Project Of India May Fail

National intelligence grid (Natgrid) project is both essential as well as controversial. It is essential as it safeguards the security of India. It is controversial because it does not provide adequate safeguards to prevent its abuse-Praveen Dalal

Natgrid project of India has been in limelight. It is a project launched by the home ministry of India. There is no doubt that home minister P. Chidambaram is blindly impressed by the US and UK security projects. He fails to understand that India has a different set up and Indian constitution must also be complied with to implement these projects.

In the past, the cabinet committee on security (CCS) of India asked P .Chidambaram to introduce further “Safeguards” before the Natgrid project can be launched in India. However, there are no such safeguards that have been kept at place by home ministry till November 2010.

According to Praveen Dalal, NATGRID Project cannot succeed in India till we meet certain challenges posed by it and ignored by the Home Ministry. Till now there is no public information about the Project, there is no website of the Project, status of its implementation is missing, etc, informs Dalal With this approach, NATGRID Project is heading towards the fate of failure as been received by the Aadhar Project and UIDAI, suggests Dalal.

It would be a good option if the cabinet committee on security (CCS) clarifies the stand on this project. Further, the CCS must also ensure that Chidambaram do not have a free run that is clearly violative of the provisions of Indian constitution.

Google Do Not Be Evil

In the past Google used to follow the policy do not be evil. However, things have drastically changed in the recent years, especially during the past year. There are many incidences where Google has done exactly the opposite of this policy. It is sad to observe that the priorities of Google have changed recently.

For one reason or other, Google is manipulating with the news search results and web search results. Previously, some of our news and search results at Google have been systematically removed from the news search and Google search. Similarly, Google also faced an anti trust lawsuit for similar reasons. It is clear that Google is either an accomplice or victim of search engine optimiasation (SEO) activities happening with its clear knowledge and support.

Google also does not respect the privacy and anonymity of Internet users too much. Google was also in news for acquiring data from wireless networks through measures that go well beyond mere wardriving.

The latest to add in this list is the active efforts of Google to improve the brand and image of Indian initiatives like UIDAI, e-governance, ICT policies, etc. For example, even if a news item pertaining to UIDAI, ICT policy, cyber law etc does appear at the top slot of Google’s news search by relevance, it does not find a place in the main web search showing latest news items link for similar topics. Surprisingly, news results of other following similar pattern are finding a mention there but not our news articles.

Google must be fair with its search results and algorithms and should not manipulate news search results and web search results simply to please any government, including Indian government. We understand that Google has to do a trade off between its own commercial interests and its users interests. But the same must not be detrimental to the Google users as is presently happening.

The present action of Google is a clear violation of civil liberties in general and right to speech and expression in particular. It has also marked a shift of Google’s policy from do not be evil to “protect your commercial interests first” policy.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Modernisation Of Police Force In India Is Needed Says Praveen Dalal

Modernisation of police force in India is the need of the hour. Presently, Indian police force is functioning upon traditional models. As a result, many times the police face lots of difficulties in resolving technology assisted crimes like cyber crimes.

According to Praveen Dalal, managing partner of Perry4Law and leading techno-legal expert of India, modernisation is not just installing computers and other information and communication technology (ICT). According to Dalal modernisation means a complete overhaul of the legal framework as well as intelligence gathering techniques. Similarly, there is also an urgent need to establish a good legal framework for lawful interception in India, suggests Dalal.

As far as the legal framework is concerned, India is negligent in formulating good laws governing the law enforcement machinery. In the absence of good legislative provisions, the performance of police force cannot be expected to be good, legally sustainable and constitutionally sound, suggests Dalal.

It would also be imperative to mention the importance of suitable training to law enforcement manpower. The ambitious projects like Crime and Criminal Tracking Network & Systems (CCTNS), NATGRID, etc cannot survive in the long run in the absence of suitable policies, trainings and legal framework.

The Parliament of India would shortly start its winter session (November 2010) and we can expect some good legislative steps by it. A good law bringing transparency, accountability, flexibility and autonomy to police forces in India is the urgent need of the hour.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

ICT Policy Of India Needs Rejuvenation

Information and communication (ICT) related policy matters are always ignored in India. Experts have been advocating for the rejuvenation of ICT polices and strategies in India. However, despite all glamour and big fuss, nothing concrete and substantial has been achieved in India. The fact is that e-infrastructure and e-governance in India are in really bad shape.

The role of Indian department of information technology (DIT) and Indian department of telecommunications (DOT) is far from satisfactory. Till now India does not have an “ICT Vision”. All Indian decisions regarding ICT are ignorant, half hearted, corruption laden, transparency lacking and retrograde in nature.

Whether it is lawmaking or policy formulation, ICT is an ignored field. Indian government is least bothered to rectify this position and Parliament of India seldom interferes in this process.

Further, in matters of cyber law, cyber security, cyber forensics, judicial training, law enforcement training, etc there is a complete failure in India. For instance, India has cyber criminal friendly and impotent cyber law, meager cyber security and cyber forensics capabilities, excessive e-surveillance, absence of privacy and data protection laws, rampant corruption, absence of transparency and many more vices.

We do not have an ICT Policy that can cater the requirements of these fields. All we have are thousands of unfulfilled promises by our ruling government where no action has been taken upon them since decades.

It is high time for the government of India to formulate and implement good, effective and transparent ICT policies and strategies in India. DIT and DOT must at least now play some pro active role in this regard.

Cyber Law Of India Needs Urgent Amendments Says Praveen Dalal

India’s sole cyber law was enacted in the year 2000 in the form of information technology act 2000 (IT Act 2000). The same was a good beginning and it was expected that the law would be upgraded and refined from time to time. However, till 2008 nothing positive happened. In fact, in year 2008 the information technology amendment act 2008 (IT Act 2008) was introduced and in 2009 it became an enforceable law.

This was the most retrograde and repressive step taken by India towards making it a safe heaven for cyber criminals, says Praveen Dalal. By making a dominant majority of cyber crimes “bailable”, India has made its cyberspace a safe heaven for cyber criminals, warns Dalal.

As a natural consequence, e-commerce and e-governance in India have been badly affected. E-infrastructure and e-governance are in doldrums, Internet banking risks are increasing unchecked in India, cyber crimes are increasing and so on.

So what is the solution for this mess created by Indian government? In the opinion of Praveen Dalal, the electronic economy of India is suffering badly due to weak and ineffective laws on the one hand and ill informed and defective ICT policies on the other hand. He maintains that India must concentrate upon enacting sufficient and effective cyber laws on the one hand and formulating and implementing an effective ICT Policy on the other hand. Further, there is an absolute requirement of formulating lawful electronic communications interception law in India as present framework is not constitutionally sound, suggests Dalal.

But these objectives seem to be too good to achieve considering the past experience of India. For instance, the IT Act 2008 made the cyber law of India impotent and weak under the pressure from industrial lobbying. Similarly, the way home ministry and department of information technology (DIT) or/and department of telecommunications (DOT) are becoming paranoid regarding e-surveillance, these objective seem to be a distant reality in India.