New Delhi, September 22 2015: A day after public outcry and derision about seemingly unworkable provisions envisaged in a new draft Encryption Policy, the Department of Electronics and Information Technology of the Indian government has backtracked and exempt popular social media from its ambit.
Section IV ( 7) of the original draft read:
"All citizens (C), including personnel of Government / Business (G/B) performing non-official / personal functions, are required to store the plaintexts of the corresponding encrypted information for 90 days from the date of transaction and provide the verifiable Plain Text to Law and Enforcement Agencies as and when required as per the provision of the laws of the country."
This meant you and I could delete unwanted junk in our Facebook or Whatsapp folders but had to preserve them for 3 months. What's more, without any legal sanction to abridge our right to privacy the proposal required citizens to provide plain text versions of such messages virtually on demand.
The absurdity of expecting a nation of 300 million Internet users to maintain bloated files of old messages seems not to have sunk into the framers of his draft which could if unchallenged well become law and part of the IT ACT.
Fortunately the overnight storm of public protest has had an effect:
An amendment to the draft has been posted overnight and it reads: By way of clarification, the following categories of encryption products are being exempted from the purview of the draft national encryption policy:
1. The mass use encryption products, which are currently being used in web applications, social media sites, and social media applications such as Whatsapp,Facebook,Twitter etc.
2. SSL/TLS encryption products being used in Internet-banking and payment gateways as directed by the Reserve Bank of India
3.SSL/TLS encryption products being used for e-commerce and password based transactions.
The public has till October 16 to send its views on the draft to email@example.com. It has already spoken loud and clear and forced the government to reverse one absurdity at least