India, inadequate laws, wrong policies and the hazard of regression

Pierluigi Paganini January 16, 2012

India, a nation technologically advanced, of which we have so much discussed in recent weeks. We have discussed about the interference of its government obsessed with desire to control private citizens, and every company operating in the domestic market. All is started with the Symantec case, the well-known manufacturer of security systems, victim of an attack to the Indian military systems that guarded the code of some of its products. Why Indian Forces possessed the source code of the Symantec popular products? The answer is simple, the government seems to have imposed an agreement to the company that would provide the opportunity to dispose and to inspect any component of the products, including sources code. The reasons are obviously related to national security requirements. However, as events have shown, to this government request has not been paid with a proper professionalism in the management of valuable information.

It is of course only the tip of the iceberg. A few days later, in internet were available some confidential documents of the Indian Government that confirm the invasive behavior against companies which are required to offer every kind of support for surveillance and monitoring activities. It is happened with the project RINOA in which it would seem that the Indian authorities have asked to the three giants RIM, Nokia and Apple to provide a backdoor for remote control of their devices.
This triggered some controversy for the uncompromising attitude of a government that seeks to ensure the safety of its citiziens with a fine-grained control of the population. But let’s not forget a crucial aspect, India suffers significantly corruption, and monitoring actions such as those we are discussing pose serious consideration about a possible censorship behaviour.

Unfortunately, those stories are not isolated incidents but a deliberate policy of a government that can hardly be shared. Obviously, the same government came early in the friction with the main suppliers of technological services such as Google, Facebook, Microsoft and Yahoo. Initially they were asked, in the absence of national legislation, to provide all the tools to exercise detailed control of the major social media and search engines, after the indian government has decided to regulate, from a legislative point of view, the work of those companies.
What worries is that recently the Indian government granted its approval to criminally prosecute companies like Google, Facebook, Microsoft and Yahoo for publishing objectionable contents.

The Delhi High Court has decided to procede against these companies, starting the criminal trial for diverse offenses under Indian laws. The indian law will oblige the central management of companies to appear at hearings. Now the Delhi Istitutions can also prosecute these parent companies after the sanction has been received.

If the rappresentant of the companies do not appear there will be serious repercussions on the final assessment. The information technology amendment act 2008 (IT Act 2008) is the principal cyber law in India, but its inadequacy to legislate on this issues, and it is the basis of all misinterpretations made ​​by the government.

This mode of legislate demonstrates the inadequacy of a nation in addressing important issues such as regulation of social media. These forms of censorship may lead to a regression of the nation itself, the forms of communication are in fact an essential element for the development of the country and this government interference can only harm to social texture.

From a strictly economic point of view, in spite of any tax benefits and the availability of highly qualified personnel at competitive costs, a policy so intrusive and oppressive is not an attraction for foreign capital and companies. At the same time just the intellectual heritage of the nation has an incentive to leave the nation in search of countries where freedom of expression is guaranteed.
If the Indian government will not change policy soon will face problems that are not prepared to resolve with catastrophic consequences.

Pierluigi Paganini

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