Monday, June 28, 2010

Law Enforcement Intelligence In India

Law enforcement intelligence is an area largely unexplored in India. Till not the law enforcement agencies of India are predominantly relying upon traditional methods of intelligence gathering and investigations. There is no doubt that these traditional methods would always remain useful; and nothing can substitute them. However, information and communication technology (ICT) can further strengthen these traditional methods and can fine tune them to achieve greater results.

Although many ambitious projects have been proposed in India regarding use of ICT for law enforcement purposes, yet they have to take a good start in order to bring them into mainstream. There are many blockages that are hindering their actual use and implementation. The biggest obstacle seems to be lack of safeguards to prevent abuse of civil liberties of Indians.

India has neither a dedicated privacy law nor any data protection legislation. Even the basic legal framework for law enforcement machinery is missing and India is managing it through colonial and outdates laws that date backs even before the Constitution of India came into force.

In this background, we have to plan the launch and implementation of Crime and Criminal Tracking Network and Systems (CCTNS) Project of India (CCTNS Project). Presently, the CCTNS Project of India has not been properly planned and implemented.

At Perry4Law Techno-Legal Base (PTLB) we are in the process of developing a techno-legal strategy that can accommodate both technological as well as legal mandates. On the technology side, we are building a software database that has almost all the necessary software and utilities necessary for the successful implementation of the CCTNS project and similar projects.

On the legal side we have already suggested a 10 point legal framework for law enforcement and intelligence agencies of India. We are in the process of detailed analysis of these points as well as incorporating new and contemporary ideas and suggestion in the same.

The law enforcement intelligence in India cannot succeed till it is techno-legal in nature. The real problem is that the police is not much aware about the technological issues. Similarly, the technology providers are not aware about the police work. So we have to make partial and piece meal efforts to make a larger picture.

At PTLB we are trying to provide both technological as well as legal solutions at a single place. This would avoid unnecessary wastage of time, energy and money as the most effective solution can be proceeded with immediately. Any person, institution, agency, organisation, etc wishing to work in association with us, may contact us with his/its proposal and we would be happy to extend out techno-legal expertise for the same.

Friday, June 25, 2010

Crime And Criminal Tracking Network and Systems (CCTNS) Project Of India

Crime and Criminal Tracking Network and Systems (CCTNS) Project Of India (CCTNS Project) is a very ambitious project of Indian government. It is the most comprehensive modernisation and reformative initiative of government of India to streamline law enforcement in India till date. The project is in its initial stage and it may face both technical as well as legal challenges and civil liberties issues.

CCTNS is a plan scheme conceived in the light of experience of a non-plan scheme namely - Common Integrated Police Application (CIPA). CCTNS is a Mission Mode Project under the National e-Governance Pan of Govt of India. CCTNS aims at creating a comprehensive and integrated system for enhancing the efficiency and effectiveness of policing through adopting of principle of e-Governance and creation of a nationwide networking infrastructure for evolution of IT-enabled-state-of-the-art tracking system around 'Investigation of crime and detection of criminals'.

The objectives of the Scheme can broadly be listed as follows:

1. Make the Police functioning citizen friendly and more transparent by automating the functioning of Police Stations.

2. Improve delivery of citizen-centric services through effective usage of ICT.

3. Provide the Investigating Officers of the Civil Police with tools, technology and information to facilitate investigation of crime and detection of criminals.

4. Improve Police functioning in various other areas such as Law and Order, Traffic Management etc.

5. Facilitate Interaction and sharing of Information among Police Stations, Districts, State/UT headquarters and other Police Agencies.

6. Assist senior Police Officers in better management of Police Force.

7. Keep track of the progress of Cases, including in Courts

8. Reduce manual and redundant Records keeping

Under the CCTNS Project, approx. 14,000 Police Stations throughout the country has been proposed to be automated.

The modernisation of police force in India cannot be successfully achieved till India acquires a techno-legal expertise. However, at least a good beginning has been made by Indian government and it would go a long way in modernisation of law enforcement in India. The government must, however, enact a suitable legal framework that can protect civil liberties of Indians from excessive police acts.

Law Enforcement In India Needs Techno-Legal Solutions

Modernisation of police force and establishing the supporting infrastructure for better policing and quicker responses to crimes, cyber crimes and national crises like terror attacks requires a techno-legal approach. Neither technology nor legal framework alone is sufficient to tackle these issues. However, absence of either law or technology would also fail any initiative that intends to modernise law enforcement in India. Take the example of National Intelligence Grid (NATGRID) that has been stalled due to absence of adequate safeguards and legal framework. None can doubt about the utility of NATGRID still it is in doldrums as it is not a techno-legal initiative but merely a technological initiative. This shows the importance of a techno-legal solution.

Perry4Law Techno-Legal Base (PTLB) is the premier, rather exclusive, institution of India that is providing techno-legal solutions for law enforcement and intelligence agencies of India. It is also providing techno-legal solutions for protecting national security of India. Some of the areas that it covers include cyber security, cyber terrorism, cyber forensics, cyber law, telecom security issues, etc.

Since any technological measure used for law enforcement and intelligence agencies purposes essentially involves civil liberties violations potential, we have also launched a Human Rights Centre of India (HRPCI). The Centre serves a “dual purpose”. On the one hand it provides techno-legal solutions to nations and organisations regarding cyber security threats, cyber terrorism, threats to the critical ICT infrastructure, cyber war, cyber espionage, crisis management plan, etc. On the other hand, it keeps a close watch over human rights violations by an overzealous and over cautious e-police State. In short, we provide techno-legal solutions that are not only technically sound but also constitutionally and legally valid.

At PTLB we believe that we cannot superimpose foreign models to Indian conditions. We have to “localise” our solutions so that they may suit Indian requirements. That is why we endorse a techno-legal training of police force as per Indian requirements. To meet this objective we have a techno-legal training centre for police forces of India at place.

Presently, PTLB is preparing a techno-legal strategy for modernisation of police force in India and world wide. Its world renowned techno-legal expertise would cater the law enforcement, legal and judicial and technological needs of crime fighting in India. We hope our initiative would prove useful for all concerned.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Use Of ICT For Legal And Judicial Reforms In India

Praveen Dalal

The Bar Council of India (BCI) and Law Minister Mr. Veerappa Moily are all set to bring legal and judicial reforms in India. Although the steps taken by both BCI and Moily are great yet they are clearly shying away from use of information and communication technology (ICT) for legal and judicial purposes.

The BCI failed to provide an online platform where legal education and exams can be conducted. Similarly, Moily failed to bring even a single e-court in India. After almost seven years of deliberation, e-courts project of India seems to have been scrapped. Realising that both online legal education and e-courts require expertise (especially the e-court) it would be prudent to expect one more year before any action is taken by BCI and Moily in this regard.

Meanwhile, both BCI and Moily must concentrate upon another crucial project that is relevant for both Bar and Bench. It pertains to use of online dispute resolution (ODR) for legal and judicial purposes. Even the alternative dispute resolution (ADR) regime in India needs an upgradation as it has failed to provide the desired results. Since the arbitration law of India is in the process of reformulation, it is high time for Moily to incorporate necessary provisions regarding ODR in it as well. Even suitable provisions regarding e-courts can be incorporated in the same.

Techno-Legal expertise and assistance of Perry4Law Techno Legal Base (PTLB) can be taken in this regard as it is managing all the above mentioned areas of legal and judicial reforms.

PTLB is managing an online platform that caters the techno-legal training, education, coaching and skill development requirements regarding bar examinations in India, Indian legal services exams, training of lawyers in India, cyber law courses, cyber law trainings for lawyers and judges, etc. The main purpose of this platform is not to provide empty academic education but to develop skill of lawyers, judges, professionals, law students, etc.

PTLB is also managing e-courts training and consultancy centre of India. This is the exclusive centre in the World that provides valuable training and consultancy regarding e-courts, digital evidencing, cyber law training to judges, ODR, etc. This is one of the most important projects that can bring long term and robust legal and judicial reforms in India. Both BCI and Moily must consider replicating this model as soon as possible.

PTLB is also managing the exclusive techno-legal ODR Center of the World. It manages both technical as well as legal issues of dispute resolution. This can be a valuable addition in the legal and judicial reforms arsenal of BCI and Moily.

Above all PTLB is willing to replicate and establish these models for BCI and Law Ministry if they deem it necessary for India.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

India Should Not Use SaaS For Crucial Governmental Functions

Software as a Service (SaaS) is in media reports for long. SaaS is a web-based version of proprietary software that performs computing on its servers on behalf of the client. Cloud computing is one of the most famous forms of SaaS. It is projected as a panacea for many infrastructure related problems and cost saving. While cloud computing has considerable cost benefits but it has drawbacks as well.

Richard Stallman, the founder of Free Software Foundation, says that on the Internet, proprietary software isn't the only way to lose your freedom. SaaS is another way to let someone else has power over your computing. He totally rejects the idea of cloud computing and opines that the real meaning of “cloud computing” is to suggest a devil-may-care approach towards your computing. It says, “Don't ask questions, just trust every business without hesitation. Don't worry about who controls your computing or who holds your data. Don't check for a hook hidden inside our service before you swallow it.” In other words, cloud computing means think like a moron.

There are many security and regulatory factors that must be complied with by SaaS and cloud computing before their deployment in India. Out of these I would presently like to stress upon three aspects alone. These are Security and Privacy, Compliance, and Legal or Contractual Issues.

As far as Security and Privacy is concerned, India has a very weak cyber security and no dedicated privacy law. Even there is no dedicated data protection law in India. The data of end users and governmental agencies is not safe in the absence of these essential regulations that the government of India is willingly not interested in enacting.

As far as Compliance aspect is concerned, that is an alien concept in India. For instance, the Aadhar project of India/UID project, National Intelligence Grid (NATGRID) project of India, etc all are running in India even in the absence of any legislation ensuring proper safeguards. When there is no legislation even for the most basic projects like Aadhar and Natgrid, there is no question of compliance in India. Outsourcers and foreign clients, keep this in mind while sending your crucial details and data to India.

Finally, the Legal and Contractual issues also cannot provide much protection against illegal and negligent data sharing and data thefts in India. The sole cyber law of India is enacted in the form of Information Technology Act, 2000 (IT Act 2000). Cyber crimes like cracking, data theft, privacy violation, etc are all bailable leaving much room for commission of these crimes.

India should not use SaaS and Cloud Computing for governmental purposes in the absence of strong cyber law and cyber security. As Stallman says, in the meantime, if a company invites you to use its server to do your own computing tasks, don't yield; don't use SaaS. Use a real computer and keep your data there. Do your work with your own copy of a free program, for your freedom's sake.

Saturday, June 5, 2010

The Extra Steps That TOR Users Must Take

Praveen Dalal

The “Decloaking Engine” invented by HD Moore was one of the most effective ways of showing how exit nodes of TOR system can sniff the unencrypted, plain text and insecure information and data passing through it. A malicious or e-surveillance capable exit node is the weakest link of the privacy and security chain of a TOR user. However, the problem is not with the TOR’s system as this is the way TOR works. The real problem lies with the end user’s perception regarding TOR’s use in general and anonymity and privacy in particular.

There are various media reports that suggest that Wikileaks acquired its whistle blowing ammunition by sniffing or intercepting the traffic flowing through TOR networks. Whether this is true or not is not the real question here. The real question is what TOR is actually offering to the end users?

Interestingly, TOR is very clearly and openly explaining the scope of anonymity and privacy offered by it to the end users. Actually TOR is great for anonymity but average at privacy protection and poor at data security. This is because although the entry node encrypts the data and forwards it to the next node, the exit node sees it in clear text and unencrypted form. This means that although the ultimate site that you wish to access would see the IP address of the exit node and not your original IP address yet the exit node itself is very sure about the data you are sending to the website.

Think about a malicious exit node as a man-in-the middle attacker (MITM).that can sniff your traffic that you are sending to the ultimate website. It may include confidential information like bank accounts, passwords, governmental secret documents, etc. All of these travel in a plain text form and can be sniffed easily by the exit node. To some extent a malicious exit node is also a form of “Extended MITM” attack as the normal MITM attack occurs either at the local network or local wireless network/access point. But in case of MITM attack occurring at the exit node of TOR system, this is happening at a place far beyond your network(s) and jurisdiction. This scary fact must be kept in mind while sending unencrypted and unprotected data across TOR network.

The real problem is that an averageTOR user cannot differentiate between a trusted and untrusted exit node. This differentiation is not within his direct control. But he has something great that can reduce his risks of exit node attacks. The TOR users must use great services like OpenSSH or PuTTY while sending confidential information. They may also use their own preferred end to end encryption software and systems but the main idea remains the same. TOR provides the anonymity and a secured connection provides additional privacy and security.

Using Firefox after disabling Add-ons, Active X Controls, Java Scripts, Cookies, etc can also bring additional anonymity and privacy. If you need all these functionalities, you can use two different browsers with different setting i.e. Firefox for TOR and other browser for your other tasks. These steps may not make you absolutely anonymous but would definitely solve the problem of malicious exit nodes sniffing to a great extent.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Linux On The Top

Praveen Dalal

Linux is synonymous with open source and free software movement. The name "Linux" comes from the Linux kernel, originally written in 1991 by Linus Torvalds. Linux being technical in nature, users were shying away from using the same. The proprietary software also played a major role in the limited growth of Linux as these proprietary software are more easy to use than command based Linux environments.

Realising this hurdle many committed Linux enthusiastic dedicated their time and energy to simplify the usage of Linux distributions. Today Linux is available for a wide range of products. Linux has become increasingly popular in recent years, partly owing to the popular Mandriva Linux, Fedora, Debian or Ubuntu distributions. In fact these distributions now come with user friendly GUI that gives a look and feeling of other proprietary operating systems that user are currently using.

The user friendly GUI coupled with command based options gives a user the ultimate control over a machine. Realising this aspect many hardware and other information technology service providers are not only switching to Linux but are also pre installing it in their hardware and products. Even the smart phones are using many Linux features and distributions.

However, with the numerous benefits of Linux we also have some cyber security issues as well. It would be wrong to presume that Linux, in itself and without further efforts, is a safe option from cyber security perspective. This is a myth as now the crackers would start exploring the vulnerabilities of Linux instead of other operating systems. The cyber security community of Linux must make some additional efforts to make Linux safer from the increased and unexpected vulnerabilities and cyber attacks.

The cyber security problem is common to both open source and proprietary software and this should not bother the potential and future Linux users from switching from traditional operating systems to the Linux environment.