The world has been riding the wave of technological advancements, and the fruits it has born have impacted our lives. Technology, by its virtue, cannot be quantified as safe or unsafe it is the application and use of technology which creates the threats. Its times like this, the importance and significance of policy framework are seen in cyberspace. Any technology can be governed by means of policies and laws only. In this blog, we explore the issues raised by the EU for the tech giants and why the Indian Govt is looking into probing Whatsapp.
EU on Big Techs
Eu has always been seen to be a strong policy maker for cyberspace, and the same can be seen from the scope, extent and compliance of GDPR. This data protection bill is the holy grail for worldwide data protection bills. Apart from the GDPR, the EU has always maintained strong compliance demographics for the big tech as most of them have originated outside of Europe, and the rights of EU citizens come into priority above anything else.
New Draft Notification
According to the draft of the new notification, Amazon, Google, Microsoft and other non-European Union cloud service providers looking to secure an EU cybersecurity label to handle sensitive data can only do so via a joint venture with an EU-based company. The document adds that the cloud service must be operated and maintained from the EU, all customer data must be stored and processed in the EU, and EU laws take precedence over non-EU laws regarding the cloud service provider. Certified cloud services are operated only by companies based in the EU, with no entity from outside the EU having effective control over the CSP (cloud service provider) to mitigate the risk of non-EU interfering powers undermining EU regulations, norms and values.
This move from the EU is still in the draft phase however, it is expected to come into action soon as issues related to data breaches of EU citizens have been reported on numerous occasions. The document said the tougher rules would apply to personal and non-personal data of particular sensitivity where a breach may have a negative impact on public order, public safety, human life or health, or the protection of intellectual property.
How will it secure the netizens?
Since the EU has been the leading policy maker in cyberspace, it is often seen that the rules and policies of the EU are often replicated around the world. Hence this move comes at a critical time as the EU is looking towards safeguarding the EU netizens and the Cyber security industry in the EU by allowing them to collaborate with big tech while maintaining compliance. Cloud services can be protected by this mechanism, thus ensuring fewer instances of data breaches, thus contributing to a dip in cyber crimes and attacks.
The Indian Govt on WhatsApp
The Indian Govt has decided to probe Whatsapp and its privacy settings. One of the Indian Whatsapp users tweeted a screenshot of WhatsApp accessing the phone’s mic even when the phone was not in use, and the app was not open even in the background. The meta-owned Social messaging platform enjoys nearly 487 million users in India, making it their biggest market. The 2018 judgement on Whatsapp and its privacy issues was a landmark judgement, but the platform is in violation of the same.
The MoS, Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology, Rajeev Chandrashekhar, has already tweeted that the issue will be looked into and that they will be punished if the platform is seen violating the guidelines. The Digital Personal Data Protection Bill is yet to be tabled at the parliament. Still, despite the draft bill being public, big platforms must maintain the code of conduct to maintain compliance when the bill turns into an Act.
Threats for Indian Users
The Indian Whatsapp user contributes to the biggest user base un the world, and still, they are vulnerable to attacks on WhatsApp and now WhatsApp itself. The netizens are under the following potential threats –
- Data breaches
- Identity theft
- Phishing scams
- Unconsented data utilisation
- Violation of Right to Privacy
- Unauthorised flow of data outside India
- Selling of data to a third party without consent
The Indian netizen needs to stay vary of such issues and many more by practising basic cyber safety and security protocols and keeping a check on the permissions granted to apps, to keep track of one’s digital footprint.
Whether it’s the EU or Indian Government, it is pertinent to understand that the world powers are all working towards creating a safe and secured cyberspace for its netizens. The move made by the EU will act as a catalyst for change at a global level, as once the EU enforces the policy, the world will soon replicate it to safeguard their cyber interests, assets and netizens. The proactive stance of the Indian Government is a crucial sign that the things will not remain the same in the Indian Cyber ecosystem, and its upon the platforms and companies to ensure compliance, even in the absence of a strong legislation for cyberspace. The government is taking all steps to safeguard the Indian netizen, as the same lies in the souls and spirit of the new Digital India Bill, which will govern cyberspace in the near future. Still, till then, in order to maintain the synergy and equilibrium, it is pertinent for the platforms to be in compliance with the laws of natural justice.
Author : Mr. Abhishek Singh, Lead – Policy and Advocacy, CyberPeace