Digital storm forces govt to withdraw encryption policy draft

Social media platforms and web applications fall outside the scope of the policy

GN Bureau | September 22, 2015


#digital india   #social media   #whatsapp   #twitter  

A storm of digital protests woke up the government. The users objected to stringent state controls on the use of email, social media accounts and apps and bowing to pressure from the public, the government on Tuesday withdrew the draft National Encryption Policy. It sought to control secured online communication, including through mass-use social media and web applications such as WhatsApp and Twitter.

Social media users called the draft “draconian” and “delusional”.

Communications and information technology minister Ravi Shankar Prasad announced the government’s decision at a news conference after a cabinet meeting, saying the draft policy will be reviewed before it is again presented to the public for their suggestions. Earlier, the last date to comment on the draft was October 16.

“I read the draft. I understand that the manner in which it is written can lead to misconceptions. I have asked for the draft policy to be withdrawn and reworded,” Prasad admitted.

However, he tried to shift the blame of the fiasco. “Experts had framed a draft policy...This draft policy is not the government’s final view,” he said. “There were concerns in some quarters. There were some words (in the draft policy) that caused concern.”

The draft will be reviewed and experts will be asked to specify to whom the policy will be applicable, Prasad said. He did not say when the new draft will be made public.

Those using social media platforms and web applications fell outside the scope of an encryption policy, Prasad said.

Several countries have felt the need for an encryption policy because of the boom in e-commerce and e-governance, he remarked. “Cyber space interactions are on the rise. There are concerns about security. We need a sound encryption policy,” he said.

The government had issued an addendum early on Tuesday to keep social media and web applications like WhatsApp, Twitter and Facebook out of its purview. Secure banking transactions and password protected e-commerce businesses too will be kept out of the ambit of the proposed policy, the addendum said.

The climb down by the government came following a storm of protests from users who objected to any stringent state controls on the use of email, social media accounts and apps.

According to the original draft, users of apps such as WhatsApp and Snapchat would be required to save all messages for up to 90 days and be able to produce them if asked by authorities.

If implemented in its current form it could compromise the privacy of users and hamper the functioning of several multi-national service providers in India.

Pranesh Prakash, policy director for The Centre for Internet and Society, tweeted that even the addendum “does not clarify anything, but further muddles the encryption policy”.

Comments

 

Other News

Expanding Eureka!

Abright yellow van with figures of children playing with a whirligig, a Newton’s cradle, a magnetic compass rolls into the Government Higher Primary School in Kittaganahalli, on the outskirts of Bengaluru. Students in the playground leave what they are doing and mill about it in excitement. For they

The spark in the classroom

Not many children dream of starting an idyllic school of their own when they grow up. But Ramji Raghavan, founder of the Agastya International Foundation – which fosters the creative learning of science in stude

Trafficking survivors’ votes don’t count

While the entire nation is agog with political grapevine, political parties are weighing on all options to lure voters by touching upon issues that impact their lives. Several parties, including the BJP and the Congress have released their manifestos while many are about to join the bandwagon. The

“I have a bigger reason and motivation to join politics”

Urmila Matondkar joined the Congress party and within just two months into politics, the actor is already surrounded by controversies – from being accused of making anti-Hindu comments to inappropriate poll campaigning. Fielded against BJP’s Gopal Shetty in the Mumbai North constituency, Ma

Campaign trail with BJP’s Manoj Kotak

Dressed in white shirt and pants, three time Bhartiya Janta Party (BJP) corporator Manoj Kotak is now contesting from Mumbai north-east constituency. Kotak, representing BJP in the BMC, is ready to rally around Ward 125 in Ghatkopar east area. It’s about 7:30 pm on a hot April e

Modi is now the topic of a PhD thesis

Sunil Bhatt, a Gujarat-based professional, has completed what is possibly the first PhD thesis on prime minister Narendra Modi. The thesis, titled ‘Leadership, Governance and Development: A case study of Shri Narendra Modi’, has been accepted at the Veer Narmad South Gujarat Universit



Current Issue

Current Issue

Video

CM Nitish’s convoy attacked in Buxar

Opinion

Facebook    Twitter    Google Plus    Linkedin    Subscribe Newsletter

Twitter