HC raps Centre over use of foreign servers for secret info
Abhinav Garg TNN
New Delhi: The Delhi high court on Thursday frowned at the high level of dependence of the government and its agencies on foreign internet servers.
“It’s an important issue. You must act fast,” a division bench comprising justices B D Ahmed and Vibhu Bakhru told the government after seeing that the National Investigating Agency (NIA), while issuing a public notice, gave a gmail ID to solicit secret information on terror suspects.
“The government of India and the NIA are using private email IDs on foreign networks that store data outside India. This violates Section-4 of the Public Records Act 1993,” advocate Parag Gupta argued, prompting the bench to express its displeasure with the Centre for such a lapse.
Gupta, appearing for petitioner K N Govindacharya, submitted a contact directory of the ministry of communication and IT, in which gmail and Yahoo! IDs of minister of state Milind Deora and other senior officials were listed. Gupta argued this was against the government policy wherein ‘nic’ network of emails must be used to ensure information remains on Indian servers.
Appearing for the Centre, additional solicitor general Rajeev Mehra and standing counsel Sumeet Pushkarna assured the HC that an email policy will be formed in four weeks for official communication by government officers so that the data wouldn’t be transferred to foreign servers.
The Centre’s stand in the HC on bringing a policy on securing its official communication is important as it comes in the backdrop of claims that India is among the top five countries extensively monitored by the National Security Agency (NSA), a US agency tasked with foreign surveillance. Reports say NSA recorded 6.3 billion pieces of intelligence from computer networks in India, placing it fifth on the list of most extensively monitored countries.
Source:::: The Times of India, 27-09-2013, p.10, http://epaper.timesofindia.com/Default/Client.asp?Daily=TOIM&showST=true&login=default&pub=TOI&Enter=true&Skin=TOINEW&AW=1380269603906