India Must Reconcile Civil Liberties And National Security Requirements

PRAVEEN DALAL MANAGING PARTNER OF PERRY4LAW CEO PTLBThis is the updated version of the previous article titled civil liberties and national security requirements must be reconciled by India. India is planning to launch many crucial projects that could have serious civil liberty implications.

For instance, projects like national counter terrorism centre (NCTC) of India, national intelligence grid (Natgrid) project of India, crime and criminal tracking network and system (CCTNS), central monitoring system (CMS) project of India, are in pipeline.

Similarly, proposed authorities like national cyber coordination centre (NCCC) of India, national critical information infrastructure protection centre (NCIIPC) of India, telecom security directorate of India, etc have also been proposed.

Surprisingly, we have no dedicated privacy laws, data protection laws, data security laws and cyber security laws in India. Clearly, Indian government has chosen to ignore civil liberties at the cost of artificial and non existent national security requirements.

There is no doubt that ensuring a balance between civil liberties and national security requirements is a tricky issue. Countries across the world, including India, are trying to achieve this colossal mission. In the Indian context, the national security and fundamental rights must be reconciled by Indian government keeping in mind the constitutional mandates.

The truth is that nations across the world are ignoring civil liberties for the false claims of national security. This is a disturbing trend especially when the United Nations is silent on the protection of human rights in cyberspace. This applies to India as well that has draconian laws like information technology act 2000 to violate civil liberties in cyberspace.

Unfortunately, UN has not been able to formulate a universally acceptable legal framework of cyber law and human rights protection in cyberspace. The obvious result is that different jurisdictions have different cyber laws. The only thing common in these cyber laws is that virtually none of them is protecting human rights in cyberspace.

According to Praveen Dalal, managing partner of New Delhi based ICT and techno legal law firm Perry4Law and CEO of PTLB, there is need to have “Reconciliation” between National Security needs of India on the one hand and Protection of Fundamental Rights on the other. I have also sent a communication in this regard to Government of India in the past, informs Dalal.

Another area that deserves the attention of Indian government in general and UN in particular pertains to Human Rights Protection in Cyberspace. According to techno legal experts like Praveen Dalal, presently UN and Human Rights in Cyberspace are two separate issues although they need to be one. Similarly, we have no International Cyber Law Treaty, International Cyber Security Treaty, International Cooperation in Techno Legal fields, etc, informs Dalal.

India must stress upon capacity and skills development to protect its national security and cyber security requirements. The offensive and defensive cyber security capabilities must be developed by India to thwart the growing cyber attacks against Indian critical infrastructures.

We must ensure a robust cyber security infrastructure in India, cyber security best practices in India, cyber law and cyber security awareness in India, cyber security policy in India, etc.

It would be a wrong strategy to curb civil liberties for false national security requirements. That is simply a façade to hide our own lack of expertise and capabilities to manage our national security requirements.

Let us repeal the draconian laws like information technology act, 2000 and Indian telegraph act, 1885 and enact constitutionally sound law to maintain a balance between civil liberties and national security requirements.