New Delhi: Union Minister of Information and Technology Ashwini Vaishnaw on Monday called for a new “dynamic” legal structure which balances the right to privacy and freedom of expression and demands for regulations and control to meet challenges from unscrupulous elements in the cyber space. Addressing the second national conference on cyber crime investigations and digital forensics organised by the CBI, the minister said over the years technology has given a lot of productivity, efficiency and convenience but simultaneously it has brought intrusions in the lives of people which can be benign but most of the time it is malignant and aimed to commit a fraudulent act. He said this problem can be tackled by legal strategy, technology, organisations, capacity building and mutual cooperation.
Speaking on legal strategy to counter cyber crimes, Vaishnaw said the country needs to overhaul the legal structure in a big way. “I don’t think any incremental changes will help. The change has to be substantial, significant, fundamental and structural,” he said. He said that is where the whole conflict is between the two constraints – the first constraint of right to privacy and freedom of expression and second conflicting demand of having more regulation and control – to “prevent fraudulent activities in the garb of right to privacy and freedom of expression.” While one arm of the society says right to privacy and freedom of expression are sacrosanct and no one can be allowed in that sphere, the other section calls for regulations and control and there has to be a balance between two demands that society has to strike, he said. He said post-Covid and during Covid the world has changed fundamentally and the way of thinking has changed that the balance is now coming in the thought process of societies.
Citing cases of countries like South Korea, Australia, the US, the European Union, he said a large number of legal, societal interventions are today happening which are basically trying to bring back the balance between right to privacy on the one side and the need for regulation on the other. “We, in India, are also trying to create that societal consensus. Its happening. Recently in Parliament multiple number of times the opposition, which used to be very vocal about government trying to intrude into people’s lives, that used to be their basic fundamental accusation, is today asking that, no, we need more regulations. We need more control. We need a legal structure in which people’s privacy as well as peoples’ right to live in a peaceful manner are protected. So that consensus is emerging and that will propel our country, also towards a new legal structure,” he said. He said the legal structure has to be a totally new legal structure, which is dynamic, which is in tune with the times, which addresses aspirations of our generations, as well as keeps people’s say, social media accountable and keeps people away who want to swindle away hard earned savings. “All those things are part of that big regulatory structure that needs to be overhauled,” he said. The minister also conferred the Police Medal for Meritorious Service on 12 CBI officers and Extraordinary Intelligence medal on two CBI officers. Earlier speaking at the conference, Director CBI Subodh Kumar Jaiswal said due to advancement in the field of Information Technology, it is the cyber criminal that take the first step with an innovative modus operandi and law enforcement agencies generally follow cyber criminals with newer tools to track them. He called for broader international cooperation between investigative agencies of various countries to curb activities of cyber criminals spread across the globe.