Cybercrimes: Consensus emerging on balance between people’s right to privacy and need for regulation: Union Minister

Union Minister Ashwini Vaishnaw.  File

Union Minister Ashwini Vaishnaw. File | Photo Credit: Kamal Narang

Stressing the need for an overhaul of the legal structure to tackle the threat of cybercrimes, Union Minister Ashwini Vaishnaw on Monday said a consensus on striking a balance between the people's right to privacy and the need for regulation to protect their right to live in a peaceful manner was now emerging in the country.

The Minister of Railways, Communications and Electronics & Information Technology was speaking at the second national conference on "Cyber Crime Investigation & Digital Forensics" organised by the Central Bureau of Investigation.

Stating that the legal structure should be overhauled in a big way, he said: "I don't think any incremental change will help, the change has to be substantial, significant, fundamental and structural."

He said that was the area where there was a conflict between the two demands of the right to freedom of expression and right to privacy; and regulation, control, and ways to prevent fraudulent activities committed in the garb of right to privacy and right to freedom of expression. "That is the balance society has to strike," said the Minister.

Mr. Vaishnaw said that fortunately, the post-COVID world had changed so much fundamentally that the balance was now coming in the thought process of societies. In South Korea, Australia, every State of the U.S., and the European Union, a large number of legal and societal interventions were today happening in a bid to bring about a balance between the right to privacy and the need for regulation.

"We in India are also trying to create that societal consensus, it is happening. Recently, in Parliament, a multiple number of times, the Opposition, which used to be very vocal about the government trying to 'intrude" in people's lives...that used to be their basic accusation, is today asking that we need more regulation, more control, we need a legal structure in which people's privacy, as well as their right to live in a peaceful manner, is protected," he said.

The Minister said a consensus on the issue was emerging and that would propel the country towards a new legal structure, which had to be dynamic, in tune with the times, which addressed the aspirations of the coming generations, kept people safe, social media accountable, and the fraudsters away. All those things were part of the big regulatory structure which needed to be overhauled.

‘Malignant intrusion’

Earlier, Mr. Vaishnaw said the use of technology had enhanced productivity, efficiency, and convenience. However, simultaneously, the possibility of someone "intruding into our lives has increased manifold. That intrusion can be sometimes benign, but mostly it is a malignant intrusion", with the aim of gaining information or most of the times, to commit fraudulent activities.

The Minister said the issue had to be tackled on five fronts: legal structure, technology, organisational measures, capacity building and mutual cooperation among the countries and agencies.

On the technology front, the Minister said crimes perpetrated by technology would have to be countered primarily by technology. Young college students, engineers and scientists would have to come up with solutions, whether by using blockchain technology, encryption, extremely good firewalls or by way of isolating infrastructures from possible cyberthreats.

Ransomware attack

Recounting a recent ransomware attack on a large pipeline system in North America, the Minister said the railway systems, power systems, the energy sector and vital installations were the possible targets, which had to be thwarted legally and technologically.

Mr. Vaishnaw said at the organisational level, may it be a family, small business, large corporation or government department, the stakeholders should be aware of the ways to protect the cyberspace. This required continuous training.

There was also a need for capacity development in terms of cybercrime investigations, digital forensics, law, technology, and security as an overall umbrella. This process had to be continuous. Institutions like the National Forensic Sciences University played a major role in this regard.

In order to effectively investigate cybercrimes, the Minister said mutual cooperation between the countries and various organisation was required.

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Printable version | Apr 4, 2022 1:07:41 pm |