New Delhi, Sep 22 (IANS) The Congress and the AAP on Tuesday accused the government of seeking to curb individual freedom, saying the now withdrawn draft policy on encryption sought to violate the right to privacy of communication.
Congress spokesperson Randeep Singh Surjewala said the government did a U-turn under public pressure.
He said the government’s move of first circulating the draft and then amending and withdrawing it was a “totalitarian, misconceived and a failed attempt” to override individual freedom of speech.
“Subjugation of individual freedom, surveillance of citizens and suppression of dissent have emerged as the DNA of the Narendra Modi-led NDA government,” Surjewala said.
The Aam Aadmi Party said the draft policy was a direct attempt to influence communication between citizens.
“The BJP government tried to push through a policy that appears to have thrown all sense of individual rights and privacy out of the window,” the ruling party in Delhi said.
“The government wants to monitor (rather snoop) the way we use modern communication platforms like WhatsApp, BBM, Snapchat, Facebook, Twitter, private server emails,” AAP said.
It said the draft policy also had clauses which would have had an adverse impact on businesses and start-up culture in India.
The Congress said that contrary to the stated objective of creating an information security environment and secure transactions, the draft policy gave the government a “licence to indulge in 24×7 surveillance, monitor private lives of citizens – particularly the young population – and introduce a new registration and licence raj”.
It said that by the end of 2014, India had 24.31 crore internet users (17.3 crore mobile internet users), 11.2 crore Facebook users, over eight crore Whatsapp users, 2.2 crore Twitter users and over 95 crore mobile connections.
The spokesman said individual liberty was fraught with “dangerous dimensions” in the Modi government.
Referring to the now withdrawn draft policy, he said if businesses store plain text version of encrypted communication for 90 days from the date of transaction, it would have led to massive expenditure on creation of additional storage capacity apart from risks of cyber-theft.
Surjewala said practically all online activity would have been controlled by the new policy as operating systems in Windows, Linux and Mac, e-commerce services like Flipkart, Amazon, Snapdeal and browsers like Google Chrome, Mozilla Firefox and email services like Yahoo, Rediff and Gmail use encryption technologies.
And every communication device like telephone or tablet or computer would have been required to be registered.
Following an outcry, the government on Tuesday withdrew the draft encryption policy. Earlier, it exempted social media sites and apps users, as also net banking and password-based e-commerce, from saving data for 90 days from the date of transaction.