Thursday, March 1, 2012

Cell Phone Laws In India

Legal enablement of ICT systems in India is posing big challenge before India. Cell phone laws in India are just one of the examples of such legal enablement. Although we have a cyber law for India yet we have no dedicated mobile phone law and mobile phone laws in India are needed. Similarly, efforts must also be made to strengthen the mobile cyber security in India.

With the launch of projects like central monitoring system (CMS), national cyber coordination centre (NCCC) of India, etc the requirements to have valid e-surveillance and cell phone laws are imminent.

Cell phone or mobile phone laws in India have still to evolve. Presently provisions pertaining to cell phones are scattered under various statues and governmental guidelines and rules. However, we have no dedicated cell phone laws in India.

Cell phones are playing important role in day to day activities of Indians. They are used for multiple purposes that cover both personal and commercial transactions. We cannot ignore the commercial, contractual and legal significance and consequences of cell phone transactions in India. This necessities enactment of dedicated cell phone laws in India.

However, positive developments in this direction are not happening in India. On the contrary, negative development infringing civil liberties in cyberspace are taking place in India. Human rights protection in cyberspace cannot be ignored the way Indian government is doing presently.

For instance, the proposal to allow department of telecommunication (DoT) to monitor cell phone locations in India is one such controversial issue. Big brother must not overstep its limits in India. Even proposed cell site based e-surveillance in India has crossed this limit well beyond those permitted by Indian Constitution.

We must have well defined procedure and cell site data location laws in India. As we have no dedicated privacy laws, data protection laws, data security laws, anti telemarketing laws, anti spam laws, etc, cell phones monitoring in India is not legally sustainable.

Even the proposed central monitoring system (CMS) project of India is not legitimate and legally sustainable as there is no legal framework that justifies its operation in India. Currently there is no phone tapping law in India that is constitutionally sound and we urgently need a lawful interception law in India. Similarly, the colonial phone tapping laws of India must be repealed and new and constitutionally sound phone tapping laws in India must be formulated.

DoT is excessively favouring e-surveillance in India and surveillance of Internet traffic in India. We need a legally valid e-surveillance policy of India to address these issues. Internet censorship in India has greatly increased and now the intelligence agencies of India want to ensure monitoring of cell phone usages in India as well. This is troublesome as parliamentary oversight of intelligence agencies of India is missing and this clearly violated the constitutional safeguards.

It is high time that Indian government must enact constitutionally sound cell phone laws in India so that civil liberties and law enforcement requirements can be reconciled.