Monday, November 1, 2010

Lawful Interception Law In India

Lawful interception (LI) is obtaining communications network data pursuant to lawful authority for the purpose of analysis or evidence. If the data is not obtained in real-time, the activity is referred to as access to retained data (RD). LI is conducted in accordance with the local laws. Under some legal systems, LI requires following due process and receiving proper authorisation from competent authorities.

India does not have any legal and constitutionally valid lawful interception law for electronic communications. The sole cyber law of India is incorporated in the form of information technology act 2000 (IT Act 2000). The same was amended through information technology amendment act 2008 (IT Act 2008) and from here started the real problem.

According to Praveen Dalal, leading techno legal and cyber law expert of India, we need good and effective lawful interception policy in India. Presently, the IT Act 2000 carries the provisions regarding interception of electronic communications that are not “Constitutionally Sound” and fail to satisfy the “Due Process Requirements”. Even there are no legal and valid lawful interception Rules available under the IT Act 2000, informs Dalal.

The situation is further worsened by lack of privacy laws and data protection laws in India. India also does not have good encryption norms at place. Under the present cyber law and encryption norms, only the “outlaws” could exercise their civil liberties in Indian cyberspace.

Some good self defence measures to defeat illegal and unconstitutional e-surveillance and internet censorship by Indian government and its agencies have been provided by Praveen Dalal under the initiative titled Human Rights Protection in Indian Cyberspace (HRPIC).

For Blackberry users in India, a service provided by research in motion (RIM) company of Canada, users can have good and effective alternatives to Blackberry phones. With open source encryption software like PGP, services like Blackberry can be availed on any smart phone, informs Dalal. Fortunately, another good initiative in this regard has been launched in the form of RIM Check project. This project would analyse the data leaving Blackberry devices for e-surveillance and other civil liberty violations.

It is high time for Indian Parliament to enact good and effective laws regarding privacy protection, data protection, e-surveillance, lawful interception, etc. In the absence of the same, the only recourse available is to use lawful self defence against government and its agencies.