India need to focus on privacy & data collection laws: SFLC

As India moves towards becoming the world's second largest Internet market, the need for privacy and data protection is of critical importance to safeguard interests of netizens, activists have said.

New Delhi: As India moves towards becoming the world's second largest Internet market, the need for privacy and data protection is of critical importance to safeguard interests of netizens, activists have said.

According to Software Freedom Law Center (SFLC), which provides free legal services to developers of free and open source softwares, Europe is having an "intense" debate on the right to privacy and protection of data, something which is missing in India.

In wake of the global uproar caused by Edward Snowden's revelations on US surveillance and increasing interest around data protection and privacy, it is time for a comprehensive review of India's legislations that regulate surveillance, SFLC India Founding Director Mishi Choudhary said.

"Europe is fighting for data protection and privacy, but here in India, we are not talking about these issues. I think the time is ripe to have a decision on to have a law on privacy and data collection," she told PTI.

SFLC is a donor-supported legal services organisation that brings together lawyers, policy analysts, technologists and students to protect freedom in the digital world.

Quoting SFLC's report "Communications Surveillance in India', Choudhary said the language of the law needs to be considerably narrowed down to specify objectively verifiable situations under which surveillance may be legitimately undertaken.

According to the report, the procedure to be followed while conducting surveillance of communications must be "clearly spelled out in its entirety" and any opportunity for "misuse of authority must be done away with by holding the concerned agents of intercepting agencies to highest standards of accountability.

The provision for an independent oversight of the surveillance process is a necessity and the regime of blanket denial of surveillance-related information requests made by the public must also be done with, the report added.

Choudhary emphasised on the need to make the surveillance regime in India needs more transparent.

The report said: "Citizens must have a legislatively recognised right to privacy, the violation of which will entitle them to constitutional remedies."


Shortlisted Indian student confident of making it to Mars


Coimbatore: A 19-year old engineering student, among the three Indians in the short-listed 100 applicants for the one-way trip to Mars in 2024, is brimming with confidence of making it to the red planet.

"I feel proud and happy for being selected from over 2.5 lakh applicants. My parents are also very happy after hearing about the selection," Shraddha Prasad, who is doing mechanical engineering in Amrita University campus here told reporters.

Her parents were reluctant in this type of risky activities, but after seeing the process they were now happy, she said adding her friends were also equally thrilled.

The names of Shraddha, 29-year old Taranjeet Singh Bhatia studying Doctorate in Computer Science at University of Central Florida and Dubai-based Ritika Singh, 29, figure among the list of 100 who will move on to the next round of the ambitious private mission that aims to send four people on a permanent basis to Mars.

Though the list by Netherlands-based non-profit organisation Mars One, which aims to set up a human colony on Mars became public yesterday, Shraddha, hailing from Kerala said she came to know about her selection a couple of days ago.

She said she was confident of winning the fourth and final round of interview.

"I am fully confident to make it in the final list. I will land and settle down in Mars," she said.

On the selection process, she said she applied in July 2013 and there were online interview, personality and medical tests.

The fourth and final interview's date was yet to be fixed.

The next selection rounds will focus on composing teams that can endure all the hardships of a permanent settlement on Mars.

The candidates will receive their first shot at training in the copy of the Mars Outpost on Earth and will demonstrate their suitability to perform well in a team.

The Mars 100 round three candidates include 50 men and 50 women with 39 from the Americas, 31 from Europe, 16 from Asia, 7 from Africa and 7 from Oceania.