20 July, 2021 - Daily Current Affairs Analysis & MCQs - The Daily News Simplified from The Hindu

  • Pegasus spyware, right to privacy and Cyber security (Indian polity and governance, science and technology, International relation, National security)
  • Reforms in sports (Essay paper - India society, economy and international affairs of events)
  • Monsoon and kharif crops (Indian economy)
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    UPSC Current Affairs:  Pegasus spyware and Cyber security, Pegasus spyware and right to privacy, Surveillance reform is need of the hour  | Page –  01, 01, 07

    UPSC Syllabus: GS Paper :  II and II: Polity and Security

    Sub Theme:  Pegasus | Spyware | UPSC  

     Decoding Pegasus cyber attacks

    Context: as per reports of some national and international news agencies there appeared on a leaked list of “potential” or actual targets for spying by the Israeli company NSO’s Pegasus spyware.

    Information Technology (IT) and Communications Minister Ashwini Vaishnaw told the Lok Sabha that illegal surveillance was not possible in India, given its laws and robust institutions. Government has supported that there are multiple checks and balances in

    India that did not allow any unauthorised person to snoop on people. However, in 2019, IT Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad in a reply to a call attention motion in the Rajya Sabha, had admitted that there were 121 names where WhatsApp was possibly infected due to the software and that a notice had been issued to the NSO group, the company that produces the spyware.

    Opposition has argued that it was government’s executive which is responsible for snooping on the individuals across the nation.

    Cyber-crimes status:

    there is a significant rise in Cyber Crimes being registered. Around 44, 546 cases were registered under the Cyber Crime head in 2019 as compared to 27, 248 cases in 2018. Therefore, a spike of 63.5% was observed in Cyber Crimes.

    The following types of cybercrimes are covered under the IT Act 2000.

    • Identity theft – Identity theft is defined as theft of personnel information of an individual to avail financial services or steal the financial assets themselves.
    • Cyberterrorism – Cyberterrorism is committed with the purpose of causing grievous harm or extortion of any kind subjected towards a person, groups of individuals, or governments.
    • Cyberbullying – Cyberbullying is the act of intimidating, harassment, defaming, or any other form of mental degradation through the use of electronic means or modes such as social media.
    • Hacking – Access of information through fraudulent or unethical means is known as hacking. This is the most common form of cybercrime know to the general public.
    • Defamation – While every individual has his or her right to speech on internet platforms as well, but if their statements cross a line and harm the reputation of any individual or organization, then they can be charged with the Defamation Law.
    • Trade Secrets – Internet organization spends a lot of their time and money in developing software, applications, and tools and rely on Cyber Laws to protect their data and trade secrets against theft; doing which is a punishable offense.
    • Freedom of Speech – When it comes to the internet, there is a very thin line between freedom of speech and being a cyber-offender. As freedom of speech enables individuals to speak their mind, cyber law refrains obscenity and crassness over the web.
    • Harassment and Stalking – Harassment and stalking are prohibited over internet platforms as well. Cyber laws protect the victims and prosecute the offender against this offense.

     

    Syed Asifuddin and Ors. v. State of Andhra Pradesh and Anr.

    Section 2(1)(i) of the IT Act provides that a “computer” means any electronic, magnetic, optical, or other high-speed data processing device or system which performs logical, arithmetic, and memory functions by manipulations of electronic, magnetic, or optical impulses, and includes all input, output, processing, storage, computer software or communication facilities which are connected or related to the computer in a computer system or computer network. Hence, a telephone handset is covered under the ambit of “computer” as defined under Section 2(1)(i) of the IT Act.

     

    What are the issues?

    • Almost 75% of cyber-crimes such as child sexual abuse, terrorist radicalisation or financial crime or disturbance of law and order with fake news, start with either phishing or social engineering attack through these messaging apps or social media.
    • Countries such as the US have provided a safe harbour to these social media service providers via section 230 (c) of its Communications Decency Act, 1996.
    • There is, at present, no law in India that protects the personal information of individuals. While certain provisions of the Information Technology Act, 2000 (IT Act) and the Information Technology (Reasonable Security Practices and Procedures and Sensitive Personal Data or Information Rules), 2011 (IT Rules) exist, these merely scratch the surface as they apply only to information on computer resources. Further, the IT Rules only protect the sensitive personal information or data, and not all personal information.
    • Unregulated access to data can lead to the suppression of dissent and censorship. Journalists, Human Rights Activists etc. can be put under an invisible prison of surveillance. Amnesty International’s Security Lab was then able to confirm that Pegasus was used to compromise the phones of former journalist. Privacy protect journalists against threats of private and governmental reprisals against legitimate reporting.
    • These revelations highlight a disturbing trend with regard to the use of hacking software against dissidents and adversaries.
    • Section 69 of the IT Act and the Interception Rules of 2009 are even more opaque than the Telegraph Act, and offer even weaker protections to the surveilled. No provision, however, allows the government to hack the phones of any individual since hacking of computer resources, including mobile phones and apps, is a criminal offence under the IT Act.
    • People who are leading a lifestyle which is deemed a taboo by a certain section of the society might be vilified or targeted. For example homosexuals.
    • World Press Freedom Index produced by Reporters Without Borders has ranked India 142 out of 180 countries.
    • Surveillance by Police also causes a concentration of power and puts civil liberties at serious risk.
    • Private details like travel details, shopping history financial details etc are used to create online granular profiles which are then sometimes used to spread specifically crafted fake news
    • Protection to cyber-crime is not a right in India.
    • Suggestions made by Economic survey regarding monetisation of data opens a pandora box of socio-economic problems.
    • There is also no scope for an individual subjected to surveillance to approach a court of law prior to or during or subsequent to acts of surveillance since the system itself is covert. In the absence of parliamentary or judicial oversight, electronic surveillance gives the executive the power to influence both the subject of surveillance and all classes of individuals, resulting in a chilling effect on free speech.
    • Excessive powers given to the executive section of the government threatens separation of powers of the government.
    • Right to Information (RTI) request in 2013, the Central government had revealed that 7,500 to 9,000 orders for interception of telephones are issued by it every month.
    • State surveillance also goes against the due process of law.
    • As of now no dedicated law is available on privacy so judiciary is also bound to act under article 32 and 226.
    • With passage of time spywares are becoming cheaper by the day. This brings more susceptibility to cyber-crimes covering common citizens.

    Data protection in India:

    • 128 out of 194 countries had put in place legislation to secure the protection of data and privacy.
    • Although the Puttaswamy Judgment talks for privacy as a fundamental right under Articles 14, 19 and 21, India for real, does not have a strict law or any specific provisions for the protection of an individual’s data.
    • The Personal Data Protection Bill (PDP) that seeks to provide for the protection of personal data of individuals is still a debated topic in the Parliament of India.
    • The Supreme Court of India opined (in Ram Jethmalani vs Union of India case.) that “it is important that human beings should be allowed domains of freedom that are free of public scrutiny unless they act in an unlawful manner.
    • Privacy ensures that freedom of speech and expression survives. This is because once we are put under surveillance we will start to censor ourselves for fear of state action. Democratic ideals of Pluralism and diversity start in the mind. And only an unfettered mind free from fear can appreciate and revel in these ideals. 

     

    Way forward:

    • Global practices: The Russian Federation has separate legislations regarding Electronic Transactions and draft legislations for Consumer Protection as well as Privacy and Data Protection.
    • WhatsApp is legally bound to not share data with Facebook in the European Region because it’s a contravention of the provisions of the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR).
    • Implementation of the PDP Bill:It has been enough time since the debates on the PDP Bill have been going on, now is the high time for its implementation.
    • More user-privacy-centered apps.
    • Apps would agree to the nine privacy principlesas mentioned in the AP Shah committee
    • NIA has limited power to cyber-terrorism. Cross border Snooping can also be added to its mandate.
    • International collaboration would be required to control cross border cases on cyber-security.
    • Dedicated surveillance reforms are required.

     

    A P Shah Committee on privacy related legislation:

    • India must statutorily establish a right to privacy to all individuals in India
    • Any definition of personal information must be wide enough to take into consideration the contextual nature of personal information.
    • Privacy legislation must regulate not only personal information processed within India, but also personal information that originated in India and which has subsequently been transferred outside India.
    • privacy legislation must provide for certain ‘national privacy principles’ in relation to collection, processing and transfer of personal information.
    • legislation must, therefore, create robust regulatory and enforcement mechanisms including privacy commission. 
    • Empowering self-regulatory organizations at industry level to develop privacy standards for each industry with the assistance of the Privacy Commissioners.
    • three-tiered approach to dispute resolution: Ombudsman, privacy commissioners, courts.

    B N Srikrishna Committee and Personal Data protection bill:

    • The draft bill recognises the ‘right to privacy’ as a fundamental right. 
    • The law does not have retrospective effect. 
    • The draft has recommended setting up a Data Protection Authority to prevent misuse of personal information. The draft Bill also provides for setting up an Appellate Tribunal. 
    • The penalty would be Rs.15 crore or 4% of the total worldwide turnover of any data collection/processing entity, for violating provisions. 
    • The three facets – the individual, the state and the industry – is considered in the bill with respect to data. 
    • The government will notify a certain type of data as critical data, which must be stored within the country. This is known as data localisation. Non-critical data can be stored outside the country subject to some conditions, as long as one copy of the data is available within India. Failure to take prompt action on a data security breach can attract up to Rs.5 crore or 2% of turnover as a penalty. 
    • ‘Data principal’ refers to the individual or the person providing their data. Processing of sensitive personal data should be on the basis of “explicit consent” of the data principal which should be given before the commencement of the processing. 
    • Anonymization refers to the irreversible process of transforming personal data into a form in which a data principal cannot be identified. Provisions of the draft bill do not apply to anonymised data as long as the anonymization process meets the standards set by the appropriate authority. 
    • The data principal will have the right to restrict or prevent continuing disclosure of personal data by a data processor which is known as the ‘right to be forgotten’. The draft bill also recognises the ‘right to be forgotten’ but this right does not allow for a total erasure is allowed in the European Union. The data holder may charge a reasonable fee to be paid for complying with such requests.

     

     

    UPSC Current Affairs: Reforms in sports | Page –  07

    UPSC Syllabus: Essay paper

    Sub Theme:   Indians in sports | UPSC  

    Context:  as we know that Olympics are round the corner and like always the performance of India athletes is under scrutiny.

    To put things in perspective, India’s best performance at the Olympics was in London (2012) where it won two silver medals and four bronzes and ranked 56th in the medal’s tally. At the Rio Olympics (2016), with one silver and one bronze, India’s rank came down to 67.

    SO what are the reasons behind such a dismal performance of Indians at Olympics?

    Beliefs

    • Sports is never a priority for a majority of Indian parents and their kids. Most Indians share the belief that, "If you study hard you will be successful but if you play sports you will ruin your life."

    Poverty

    • Poverty is widespread in India and because of this menace, such a massive population cannot produce good sportspersons.
    • It is very difficult for many Indian families to provide the means to their children to pursue a career in sports. Consequently, a lot of latent talent goes undiscovered or inadequately nurtured to compete at the level of Olympics.
    • A person of poor health can never be a good sportsperson. In countries where there are high levels of stunted growth, malnutrition and anaemia, we cannot expect good athletes.
      • Thus, South Asian countries and countries in Sub-Saharan Africa don’t fit in the econometric models built on total GDP.

    Poor Infrastructure

    • Lack of facilities at the grass root level is a major problem. Schools and colleges lack basic infrastructure that can encourage other sports, so even if someone has a natural talent in a particular sport, it gets crushed at the school level itself.
    • The concept of school sports or college sports is still not seen as an option in India's education system. Maybe cause we lack coaches who can nurture and groom talent is the reason why we haven't been able to produce many Olympians of international calibre

    Lack of recognition of sports other than cricket

    • Cricket continues to dominate India's sporting landscape. Sports other than cricket are not given much weightage as a career option, because neither they appear neither financially lucrative nor glamorous.
    • More than the government, it's the apathy of corporates and wealthy individuals towards other sports that has to change.

    Corruption

    • Corruption plagues all major Indian sports, including cricket, hockey, weightlifting, and athletics.
    • The governing boards of the sports federations are under the control of politicians and bureaucrats who have little or no interest and knowledge of the specific requirements and anticipated problems in that sport.

    Genetic factors

    • Genetic factors are also no less important.
    • The U.S., Australia and the Netherlands are powerhouses in swimming, but not China. Perhaps, taller people have an advantage in swimming or basketball but height is not important in shooting or gymnastics.
    • China excels in shooting along with the U.S. and Germany.
    • East Asian nations do better at table tennis than Western nations.
    • Russia, East European nations and Central Asian countries do well in amateur boxing whereas China and Central Asians countries do better in weightlifting and wrestling.

    The way forward according to author: One State, one sport

    • States need to be integrated in a bigger way in India’s sports policy.
    • People of different States have different food habits and build. It’s not impossible to develop training infrastructure for different sports in different parts of the country depending on the inclination of people of that area and their habits and build.
    • Unless we start grooming our children, who show potential, for international sports, India can hardly succeed at the Olympics. Individual talent alone cannot take us ahead. The policy of “One State, One Sport” can be a game-changer in India.
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