Addressing the second national conference on cyber crime investigations and digital forensics organized by the CBI, Union Minister of Information and Technology Ashwini Vaishnaw on Monday called for a new “dynamic” legal structure to balance the right to privacy and freedom of expression.

According to him this requires demands for regulations and control to meet challenges from unscrupulous elements in the cyber space.

Vaishnaw was of the opinion that the legal structure should be overhauled in a big way. He said: “I don’t think any incremental change will help, the change has to be substantial, significant, fundamental and structural.”

According to Vaishnaw there is a  conflict between the two demands of the right to freedom of expression and right to privacy; and regulation, control, and ways to prevent fraudulent activities committed in the garb of right to privacy and right to freedom of expression. “That is the balance society has to strike,” he opined.

The Minister said a consensus on the issue is emerging that will propel the country towards a new legal structure, which will be dynamic in nature to address the aspirations of the coming generations with a clear focus on data privacy.

‘Malignant Intrusion’

According to Vaishnaw the use of technology has enhanced productivity, efficiency, and convenience. However, simultaneously, the possibility of someone “intruding into our lives has increased manifold. That intrusion can be sometimes benign, but mostly it is a malignant intrusion, with the aim of gaining information or most of the times, to commit fraudulent activities.”

He elaborated on how the issue can be tackled on five fronts viz: legal structure, technology, organisational measures, capacity building and mutual cooperation among the countries and agencies.

On the technology front, the Minister said crimes perpetrated by technology would have to be countered primarily by technology. Young college students, engineers and scientists would have to come up with solutions, whether by using blockchain technology, encryption, extremely good firewalls or by way of isolating infrastructures from possible cyberthreats.

Ransomware Attack

Recounting a recent ransomware attack on a large pipeline system in North America, the Minister said the railway systems, power systems, the energy sector and vital installations have been on the target of attackers, and they need to be thwarted.

Vaishnaw said that all stakeholders (be it private or government entities), should be aware of the ways to protect their data and systems. This will require continuous awareness and training.

Cyber Skilling

There is a need for capacity and skill development in the area of cybercrime investigations, digital forensics, law, technology, and overall security. Institutions like the National Forensic Sciences University have played a major role in this regard.

In order to effectively investigate cybercrimes, the Minister said mutual cooperation between countries and various organisations was also required.

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