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What do encryption policy, porn bans and net neutrality have in common?

What do encryption policy, porn bans and net neutrality have in common?

What do encryption policy, porn bans and net neutrality have in common?

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The recent creation of a draft national encryption policy has been a bit of a rollercoaster. The first draft of the policy, created by a group of “experts”, was so vaguely worded that it could have been interpreted to mean that deleting a message from WhatsApp was illegal. The government later clarified that WhatsApp, Facebook and Twitter would be exempt, but the clarification, released after a massive public outcry, only further confused the issue.

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Ultimately, less than 24 hours after Gadgets 360 first raised the issue, the government withdrew the draft proposal. While it’s great that the government backed away from a poorly worded proposal whose vague language would have left it open to abuse, we still need a real encryption policy. We live in a time where governments around the world spy on each other’s citizens with impunity, and the fact is that we need a policy in place to encourage our defense, financial and government services – at the very least – to stay safe. “Cyberwar” sounds fanciful, but it is increasingly a reality today.

Still, he is fortunate that the government is responsive to public outcry and has shown a willingness to back down on unpopular issues. It is however not the first time in recent times that the government has faced a situation like this.

Porn ban
In August, in a move that again unfolded over a weekend, the government asked ISPs to start blocking porn sites. On Monday, more details began to emerge as more than 857 sites were blocked, thanks to an overzealous response to a Supreme Court statement.

The “pornography ban”, as it soon became known, was the biggest case of blocking in India and not only blocked porn sites, but also several legal sites, including comedy and dating sites, video sharing sites and torrent sites. The order was the result of a PIL pending before the Supreme Court, which seeks a ban on child pornography and other similar sites. During the previous hearing of the case, the Court had asked the government what measures had been taken.

The government seemed to take this as a reason to start blocking all sites mentioned in the POA, without questioning the validity of the list, despite the fact that the Supreme Court recently refused an interim order to block porn websites. in India. “Someone can come to court and say, look, I’m over 18, and how can you stop me from watching him from the four walls of my bedroom. That’s a violation of Article 21. [right to personal liberty]“, reportedly said Chief Justice HL Dattu.

The government order was not issued with transparency, and there was little or no information given about its reason, or the issuing authority. Issuing the order on a Friday evening meant officials would not be available for comment, which would make the whole thing rather sneaky.

Similar to the encryption fiasco, the government also reviewed and lifted the block within a day. In just over a month, these are two issues that the IT Department had to backtrack on and left the government incompetent and misinformed.

Net Neutrality
The net neutrality debate is another area where the government has seen a lot of back and forth. The Telecom and Regulatory Authority of India’s (Trai) stance on the issue appeared to be biased in favor of telecom operators, even as it sought opinions on its draft policy. Telecoms Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad told reporters the government was committed to ensuring equal access for all, but although Trai received more than a million responses to his call for comments, it seemed to have had little impact on at least some areas of policy.

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The Ministry of Telecom released its own net neutrality report, and there were many issues with the report. Most of the problems were due to the use of vague language, and something BJP spokesperson Sambit Patra said in the past caused the misuse of Section 66 A of the law. – so clearly those close to government know, as they should, about the problems that can arise from vaguely worded laws and policies.

Yet it is this same government that is now proposing an equally vague encryption policy – a policy that was probably crafted with the best of intentions and perhaps never intended to prevent citizens from using WhatsApp – yet the way it was written by “experts” left so much scope for abuse that it could be used to block people from using just about any form of secure communication.

In short, we ended up with a policy intended to increase security, which actually made communication less secure. It’s no surprise that many people have been forced to speak out against this, and again, it’s a good thing the government has shown a willingness to back down. It would have been a good thing if the proposed policy had instead lived up to the objectives outlined in its vision document.

Check out the latest from the Consumer Electronics Show on Gadgets 360, in our CES 2023 hub.

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