Telecom Minister assures that your private messages will remain so. No snooping!

Telecom Minister assures that your private messages will remain so. No snooping!
Doing a complete U-turn from draft encryption policy, the government has decided to withdraw its proposed plan. Earlier the telecom ministry had initiated a committee to ensure data safety, which would have required the government to snoop into social media, mails and messaging apps of the individuals.

This had triggered off a controversy as the public feared that the government wanted to barge into their private life. After an ounce of public uproar, the govt has officially withdrawn the policy.

Department of Electronics and Information Technology (DeitY) had suggested through the draft of its new encryption policy that one shouldn't delete Whatsapp conversation till 90 days for security reasons.

Every messaging service including Whatsapp, Facebook, Gmail use some form of encryption. The amendment also ensured that internet banking and payment gateways will be exempted from the purview.

"Yesterday, it was brought to our notice that draft has been put in the public domain seeking comments. I wish to make it very clear that it is just a draft and not the view of the government. I have noted concerns expressed... by the public," Prasad added.

As per the original draft, the new encryption policy proposes that every message a user sends -- be it through WhatsApp, SMS, e-mail or any such service -- must be mandatorily stored in plain text format for 90 days and made available on demand to security agencies.

Prasad said the government under the leadership of Prime Minister Narendra Modi has promoted social media activism.

"The right of articulation and freedom, we fully respect but at the same time, we need to acknowledge that cyber space transaction is rising enormously for individuals, businesses, the government and companies," Prasad said.

The draft proposed legal action that could entail imprisonment for failure to store and produce on demand the encrypted message sent from any mobile device or computer.

The draft, issued by the Department of Electronics and Information Technology, was applicable on everyone, including government departments, academic institutions, citizens and for all kinds of communications -- be it official or personal.

Besides, all service providers located within and outside India that use encryption technology must register themselves with the government, as per the draft.

Prasad, however, maintained that there's need for an encryption policy which would apply to those who are involved in encrypting a messaging product "for a variety of reasons".

The policy was proposed under section 84 A of the Information Technology Act, 2000 through an amendment in 2008.

After the government made a U turn from banning porn in India, the government has once again moved away from a decision. Many people on social media feel, the government should take this kind of decision with more concern and analysis.