20 Jul 2013

Online Privacy vs National Security !!

There are always two sides to a story. And like any, cryptography has its share of laurels as well as pitfalls. On one hand, communication has never felt so safe. It provides the right combination of security and privacy whether we're having a conversation with a friend, or making crucial business transactions online or just surfing the internet! Compromising on any aspect has become unnecessary.

Internet privacy is the desire or mandate of personal privacy with respect to transaction or transmission of data via internet. National security is the requirement to maintain the survival of the state through the use of economic power, diplomacy, and political power etc. The recent revelations regarding the collection of metadata by the National Security Agency (NSA) and the allegations by Edward Snowden concerning the PRISM program have brought the ongoing debate between individual liberty and national security to the forefront.Similarly,the setting up of Central monitoring system in India has added more heat to this debate in India. The challenge of cyber security lies in protecting people without entering their private space or making national security an excuse to trample their freedom.

Concerns of online privacy:

1. The unclear structure and functioning of surveillance agencies.
2. Online users include wide range of people i.e. from those who surf internet for various purposes to CEOs, top officials .Surveillance of all individuals alike renders not only individuals but also their organizations susceptible to cyber threats.
3. Lack of accountability on the part of these agencies.
4. No clarity on how the data collected will be stored and protected
Concerns of national security:

  • ·  The number of cyber-attacks in the country is growing rapidly, according to data from the Indian Computer Emergency Response Team.
  • ·  Cyber terrorism is raising its ugly head threatening integrity of nation.
  • ·  To check spread of messages, information capable of disrupting internal security.eg: NORTH EAST PEOPLE EXODUS{BANGALORE}
  • ·  India’s shift to e-governance has made it mandatory to protect its cyber space.


Steps taken towards a secure cyber space:

1. National cyber security policy is characterized by striking duality of purpose.
A.it seeks to guard and strengthen the country’s strategic assets and online intelligence infrastructure.
B.it hopes to secure transactions of citizens, companies and public services on web.

The government will designate National Security Coordination Secretariat as a national nodal agency that will coordinate all matters related to cyber security in the country. Apart from, NCSC, National Critical Information Infrastructure Protection
Centre will also mandate security processes.

2. India’s National Security Advisor Sh. Shivshankar Menon recently released a report on the “Recommendations of Joint Working Group on Engagement with Private Sector on Cyber Security”. The report, among other things, suggests that the challenges from cyber space require both the government and industry to work together. The government cannot do this alone nor can the private sector do it on its own.

Other institutes:
National Informatics Centre(NIC)
Indian Computer Emergency Response Team(ICERT).

· The government will be able to monitor internet traffic Check on trends in cyber security compliance, cyber-attacks, and cyber-crimes.
·  Human Resource development in the area of security.

· Dearth of cyber security professionals
·  Lack of over sight on the surveillance agencies.
· Lack of redressal mechanism in case of encroachment on online privacy.


Online-Privacy-vs-national-securityThe challenge of Cyber Security and governance is how to protect personal cyber space of its netizens while ensuring national cyber security. Our country should strive hard and work together with other nations who have a good track record in this arena eg:Britain and promote international efforts towards cyber security. Least the general cyber user can do is by being aware, vigilant and cautious about the dangers of cyber-security and at the same time they should take minimum security measures as websites, different social media groups from time to time recommends.

According to you, what is more important: CYBER PRIVACY or NATIONAL SECURITY? Please justify also.

Please give your views related to Snowden’s revelations.

What measures should be taken by the governments to ensure the cyber online privacy for its citizens and at the same time, strengthening the national security also?

Please give your opinions…

(Written by co-host Affu of the event Group Discussion for UPSC CSE (Daily 9PM to 11PM) of the group Mission Mussoorie UPSC Civil Services based up on daily discussions. Please join and give your valuable views)



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