Civil Liberties Protection In Cyberspace

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    B Singh
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    Information and communication technology (ICT) has seen tremendous growth in recent years. These developments are both positive and negative. On the positive side, we have witnessed use of ICT for development (ICT4D) purposes. On the negative side, we have faced growing challenges of cyber crimes, cyber attacks, data violations and privacy violations. 

    The way ICT is developing and influencing our day to day activities and decisions, it was imperative that Human Rights protection in cyberspace was also given due importance. There is an urgent need on the part of international stakeholders to ensure that Human Rights protection in cyberspace must be internationally recognised through a treaty.  However, world over countries have deliberately ignored Human rights in cyberspace and Civil Liberties Protection in Cyberspace. On the contrary, countries are actively working in the direction of violation of civil liberties in cyberspace.

    Take the example of United Kingdom that has recently admitted that its intelligence agencies illegally snooped upon lawyers and clients communications for many years. Similarly, the US Supreme Court has recently approved a rule that allows the US courts to issues warrants for search in any part of the world. This would obviously violate civil liberties and cyber laws of different countries and cannot be considered to be legal and constitutional. Similarly, the censorship and surveillance under Digital India and Aadhaar projects of Indian government are also well known. In fact, the combination of Digital India and Aadhaar has become the biggest digital panopticon of human history. Law enforcement and intelligence agencies of other countries are also engaging in such illegal and unconstitutional e-surveillance and spying activities. 

    Countries around the world are taking advantage of the fact that we have no internationally acceptable cyber law and cyber security treaty (pdf) as on date that can protect civil liberties in cyberspace. This has given enough room to such countries to launch sophisticate cyber attacks and indulge in cyber espionage and cyber warfare activities. Conflict of laws in cyberspace is going to be the main pain point for civil liberties advocates who are fighting against illegal and unconstitutional e-surveillance activities of states and state sponsored actors around the world.

    In these circumstances, privacy protection in the cyberspace must be a top priority for civil liberties advocates. We at Perry4Law Organisation (P4LO) believe that privacy and anonymity related habits must be developed by those who are interested in protecting their privacy from an over jealous and big brother state. Use of Internet, smart phones, free WiFi connections, etc must be distrusted by default and adequate techno legal privacy and civil liberties protection mechanisms must be adopted in advance.

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