Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Cloud Computing: A New Landmine For Privacy In India

Cloud computing is a cost effective and efficient service provided it is managed as per legal and moral standards. One of the biggest roadblocks for cloud computing is legal and regulatory issues. Cloud computing has been in controversies for violation of legal provisions in general and privacy rights in particular.

In the past telecom companies have been criticised for illegal and unlawful disclosures of private information of their users. For instance, the secret NSA program, working with AT&T and Verizon, recorded over 10 million phone calls between American citizens. This caused a fear among privacy advocates about the extent to which telecommunication companies can monitor their user activity.

Similar fears and contravention applies to cloud computing service providers, especially where there are no privacy laws and data protection laws. Clearly there is no universal or harmonised legal framework regarding cloud computing and telecommunications privacy. It varies from nation to nation and jurisdiction to jurisdiction. India has no dedicated privacy laws, data security laws and data protection laws.

Similarly, cyber security and cloud computing security issues are also by and large unresolved in India. India has no cyber security law in place. Event the sole cyber law of India, i.e. information technology act, 2000 is useless for preventing growing menaced of cyber crimes in India.

With companies like research in motion (RIM) openly declared their intentions to allow cloud computing base data access for blackberry services in India to intelligence agencies and law enforcement agencies, this trust deficit has widened further. Fortunately, Google rightly refused to part with encryption keys regarding its Gmail services. This is a bold step on the part of Google and others must also follow the same path.

There is no reason whatsoever that cloud computing would not violate privacy rights, data protection principles and data security practices in India. In fact, there is a very bright possibility that all these unlawful acts would happen in India without any legislative safeguards and court orders.

If you are privacy conscious do not use cloud computing in India and oppose governmental use of the same for public delivery of its services. The fact is that India is not yet ready for cloud computing.