COAI in association with the Centre for Internet and Society (CIS) organized a Privacy and Surveillance Roundtable at the India International Centre, New Delhi, to deliberate upon the current legal framework for communications surveillance and to discuss better legal models for such surveillance in India.
COAI, together with CIS, will be holding seven such Privacy and Surveillance Roundtables across multiple cities in India in the coming weeks. These roundtables are closed-door meetings involving multiple stakeholders such as the industry leaders, policy makers, experts from legal fraternity, civil society, etc. The agenda of Roundtables is to discuss possible legal frameworks for surveillance in India. The recommendations and dialogues from each of these roundtables will be compiled and submitted to the relevant ministries of the Government of India.
Talking to the media on the occasion, the COAI Director General Rajan S Mathews said, “n the era of freedom, when data connectivity via the internet, has emerged as one of the most powerful tools for communications, infringement of customer privacy by government agencies through telecom networks have forced the industry to initiate discussions on the international best practices on communications privacy &surveillance, and the relevant Indian jurisprudence. COAI, with the Centre for Internet and Society,has taken this initiative by bringing the relevant stakeholders on a common platform to discuss the matter to arrive at an acceptable conclusion.”
According to Bhairav Acharya, who advises the Centre for Internet and Society and moderated the consultations, “India antiquated communications surveillance laws do not serve the best interests of law enforcement agencies, service providers, or the general public. Legal reform is necessary to identify the limits of permissible surveillance, the protection of privacy, the procedure of intercepting communications, the expectations of service providers, and freedom of all Indians. The law must keep up with technological advancements to create a balanced, proportionate and fair mechanism to enable and regulate surveillance. This will serve India’s national interest.”
The Centre for Internet and Society is a non-profit research organization that works on policy issues relating to freedom of expression, privacy,accessibility for persons with disabilities, access to knowledge and IPR reform, and openness and engages in academic research on digital natives and digital humanities. The Centre for Internet and Society will critically engage with concerns of digital pluralism, public accountability and pedagogic practices, in the field of Internet and Society, with particular emphasis on South-South dialogues and exchange.