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Democratic countries need to think about creating safe, accountable internet

Democratic countries need to join hands to think about creating safety, trust and accountability on the internet which has no boundaries, Minister of State for Electronics and IT Rajeev Chandrasekhar said on Saturday.

Speaking at the first ever India Internet Governance Forum (IIGF) organised by Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology and National Internet Exchange of India (NIXI), he said India is becoming one of the largest connected nations with 800 million people online.

With the world’s largest rural broadband programme, India would soon have more than 1 billion people on the internet, he noted.

”Given the size of the internet and cyberspace, which does not have boundaries, it needs cooperation. The world needs to think about it, especially democratic countries and societies,” Chandrasekhar said.

He said Prime Minister Narendra Modi launched the Digital India Mission with 3 major objectives — to transform lives of Indians, expand economic opportunities with digital entrepreneurship, and enhance strategic capabilities in certain technologies including the internet so that the future of internet is shepherded by countries that are open societies and share the same set of democratic values and respect citizen rights.

”IIGF in a lot of ways was about talking and having more stakeholders around the big roundtable i.e. India about how do we keep the internet open? How do we make sure that the internet is safe and trusted by all those people who use it, and safety and trust being extremely important attributes because there are whole new demographics that were not foreseen many years ago which are children, women and the elderly,” Chandrasekhar said.

He said the government is committed to connecting all Indians to the internet.

Cyber security expert and a lawyer in the Supreme Court, Pavan Duggal said the government made a comprehensive amendment in 2008 in the IT Act but made cosmetic provisions around security.

”That was the time when cybersecurity was beginning to evolve. In 2021 we will have to have a dedicated legal framework for cybersecurity either in the form of dedicated provision under the IT Act or in the form of new legislation. Cybersecurity and cyber resilience need to be mandated,” Duggal said.

Voyager Infosec Director Jiten Jain said India is in the dawn of the digital age with abundant skilled manpower but the legal provisions have been reactive in the country instead of being proactive.

”We need a law which should be an evolving, agile, living document that deals with the problems of today. Any law which is passed related to IT Act, we need to get it reviewed by Parliament every two years,” Jain said. PTI

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