India is systematically eliminating the civil liberties in cyberspace and introducing e-surveillance and curbs upon freedom of speech and expression and right to privacy. This seems to be the sole aim of Home Minister P. Chidambaram, who is making absurd decisions without any sort of regard for human rights. In this guest column, Praveen Dalal, Managing Partner of Perry4Law and the creator of HRPIC initiative, is analysing the position of e-surveillance and its affect upon civil liberties of Indians, He maintains that in India Human Rights in Cyberspace are clearly outlawed and only outlaws would have these Human Rights.
Philip R. “Phil” Zimmermann Jr. (born February 12, 1954) is one of the greatest civil liberty protectors in the cyberspace. Zimmermann is the creator of Pretty Good Privacy (PGP), the most widely used email encryption software in the world. He is also known for his work in VoIP encryption protocols, notably ZRTP and Zfone.
In his rationale for creating PGP he tells that using PGP is good for preserving democracy. He believes that if privacy is outlawed, only outlaws will have privacy. This is so true not only in the context of America but also India.
India is passing through the worst era of police state and e-surveillance society. Even worst is the reliance upon American models that have failed in America itself. But Home Minister P.Chidambaram is not discouraged by these failures and he would stop only on the failure of these models in India.
Even the Department of Information Technology (DIT) and Department of Telecommunications (DOT) have joined this blind and ignorant race and are trying to ban telecommunication services like Blackberry and Skype and Internet services like Gmail.
These departments are troubled by the strong and secure encryption technology and other similar technologies that prevent unlawful and illegal e-surveillance by the government and its agencies. Criminals and terrorists are already using these, and much better options, and these ignorant actions would only trouble and violate the civil liberties of law abiding citizens alone.
All the limits in this regard were crossed when the Information Technology Amendment Act 2008 (IT Act 2008) was made an enforceable law in India. The IT Act 2008 provides unregulated, unconstitutional and illegal e-surveillance, Internet censorship and website blocking powers in the hands of Indian government and its agencies. There is no mechanism at all that can prevent the abuses of these powers and there is no accountability as well.
A time has come in India when Human Rights in Cyberspace are clearly outlawed and only outlaws (as per the norms and standards of Indian government) would have these Human Rights. This is the main reason why I dedicated a resource titled Human Rights Protection in Cyberspace (HRPIC) to those law abiding citizens who cherish and wish to protect their civil liberties in cyberspace.
With further illegal and unconstitutional projects like CCTNS, NATGRID, UID Project/Aadhar Project, etc things are only going to be worst in India. The only option remains is to use self defence against the persons, institutions and agencies that are engaging in illegal and unconstitutional e-surveillance and civil liberty violations.