Barely after the NDA government weathered a backlash over a Luddite attempt to police internet pornography, it has stoked a fresh storm by mulling a law that--almost impossibly--encumbers every citizen to be accountable for all encrypted information that passes through their email, apps, websites and business servers.
Thus companies, especially those who host mail services, have to keep passwords to your email and similar services in a plain text form that can be easily accessed by law-enforcement agencies.
The Indian Express says that were this draft legislation to become law, the government will have access to all encrypted information, including personal emails, messages or even data stored on a private business server.
The Draft National Encryption Policy wants users to store all encrypted communication for at least 90 days and make it available to security agencies, if required, in text form and also wants everyone to hand over their encryption keys to the Government.
A variety of observers say that the current version of the draft policy paradoxically reduces the security and, makes more vulnerable, data bouncing off servers. Also, the demands the proposed law makes on storage capacity will also be enormous, say other experts, so as to make the practical implementation of the law almost next to impossible. However it isn't clear to what extent non-expert users of messaging apps and email will be inconvenienced--or even hounded--by law-enforcement officers, merely in the light of the proposed law.
This isn't the first time that the government has sought more control over keys that govern access to electronic communication. In 2010 the country had threatened to impose a ban on Blackberry devices, saying its secret services needed to be able to access suspects' messages and have the keys to decrypt them in order to prevent terrorist attacks.
This is the draft of the National Encryption Policy that has cyber-law activists and experts in a tizzy.
As of now, it's going to be a long time before this assumes any form of becoming law though the public display on the Department of Electronics and Information Technology website is to enable a range of public comment and opinion until October 16, 2015.
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