Friday, December 16, 2016

Digital Payments And Cashless Economy Trends In India 2017

Indian Government is presently engaged in making Digital India a success. Many good initiatives have already been taken under Digital India and its predecessor National E-Governance Plan (NeGP). After the Demonetisation process, Indian Government is also stressing upon grand usage of digital payments in India. 
Perry4Law Organisation (P4LO) has published the Digital Payments and Cashless Economy Trends of India 2017 that has covered many crucial issues regarding use, adoption and safeguards for using digital payments in India. The year 2017 may see some significant steps in the direction of encouraging more and more use of digital payments. However, there would be many techno legal challenges that have to be tackled by Indian Government before this goal is achieved. 
For instance, cyber security, data security, data protection, privacy safeguards, etc are some of the issues that are still vexing Indian Government. Digital payments that are insecure would be more trouble than relief. It would only increase cyber crimes and customers’ disputes in the long run.
As on date, the mobile cyber security is a big challenge for Indian Government and various stakeholders. If mobile security is missing, there is little hope for secure mobile banking as well. Similarly, cyber security of banks in India is also not in a good shape. This is so even when the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) has prescribed a cyber security framework for banks of India
Digital payments in these circumstances would be really challenging for the Indian Government. The most troublematic part would be use of Aadhaar Enabled Payment System (AEPS) that is not only highly insecure but would also amount to use of an “Unconstitutional Technology”. Cyber security, data security and privacy aspects of Aadhaar have not yet been resolved. It is not a good idea to use AEPS for any purpose, including digital payments purposes. 
As we move towards a digital economy, we would face sophisticated and global cyber attacks and cyber crimes. Whether we like it or not, we are not prepared to deal with cyber attacks and cyber crimes. Cyber crimes investigation capabilities of Indian law enforcement agencies must be enhanced through techno legal trainings and skills development. As cyber attacks and cyber crimes are international in nature. It requires good techno legal training to trace, investigate and punish the cyber criminal. 
Digital payments infrastructure of India needs to be robust and resilient from cyber security and cyber crimes perspective. Similarly, liability of banks and customers for cyber frauds and cyber thefts must be clearly specified by Indian Government. An effective dispute resolution procedure must also be established by Indian Government to resolve disputes arising out of digital payments. 
A test platform named Online Dispute Resolution and Cyber Arbitration has been launched by Techno Legal Centre of Excellence for Online Dispute Resolution (ODR) in India (TLCEODRI) of Perry4Law Organisation (P4LO). The platform is resolving disputes pertaining to digital payments, cyber frauds, ATM frauds, credit card frauds, debit card frauds, online banking frauds, mobile banking frauds, etc. The entire process of dispute resolution is using ODR mechanism and parties can resolve their disputes without even leaving their homes.

Perry4Law Organisation (P4LO) hopes that digital payments would be safe, secure and civil liberties compliant in the year 2017. However, Indian Government must take pro active steps in this regard if it wishes digital payments to be successful in India.

Friday, May 13, 2016

Selling Of Online Lotteries From Other States In State Of Maharashtra Sought To Be Banned Through PIL

India has been struggling hard to deal with issues of online gambling, online gaming and online lotteries for long. Till now we have no dedicated online gambling and gaming laws in India. This position has become more complicated since the Supreme Court of India has refused to decide about legality of online poker, online rummy and online card games in India.

Recently the Indian government has clarified about the Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) in E-Commerce Sector of India. As per the “Consolidated FDI Policy Circular 2015” (pdf) (FDI Policy), FDI is prohibited in lottery business including Government/private lottery, online lotteries, etc and
gambling and betting including casinos etc. Recently the Crime Investigation Department (CID) of the Andhra Pradesh police had sought a ban on the website of “Playwin” which had allegedly been selling online lotteries banned in the state.

This episode has also proved that online gaming, online gambling and lotteries websites are not complying with the internet intermediary compliances and cyber law due diligence (pdf) requirements prescribed under the Information Technology Act 2000. Similarly, almost all of the online poker websites in India are violating one or other laws of India. Although online gaming market in India is booming yet regulatory compliances cannot be ignored. It seems online gaming and online gambling industry of India is not considering regulations while conducting their businesses in India.

A disturbing trend of "legal violations" is fast dominating the online gaming industry of India. For instance, the fine line and distinction between online gambling and online gaming in India is not appreciated and understood by online gambling and gaming enthusiastics of India. As a result they are frequently prosecuted in India for violating online gaming and online gambling laws of India. Even technical mechanisms are also used to curb such activities in restricted territories or zones so that activities of one state may not violate the laws of other state of India.

In the past, Kerala refused permission to Future Gaming Solutions India Private Ltd to sell Nagaland lotteries in the state. Now a social worker had knocked judiciary's doors praying for immediate ban on unauthorized and alluring online lotteries. Promoted by other states within Maharashtra, he contended that over 1,300 bogus online lotteries under various strange names are operating here and ruining lives of millions. A division bench comprising justice Bhushan Gavai and justice Swapna Joshi issued notices to central and state governments seeking their reply before court resumes after summer vacations.

Friday, April 15, 2016

Google Seems To Have Abandoned Page Rank And All Websites Now Show Zero Page Rank

Speculations about abandonment of Google's page rank was in abundance in recent days. However, there is no official declaration or news from which date Google would be dropping the page rank indication. It seems Google has finally dropped the page rank from today evening i.e. 15-04-2016.

As a result, the blogs, websites and other pages are now showing zero page rank. The search engine optimisation (SEO) industry has to now adopt new and innovative techniques to make their clients happy.

This is followed by a manual action penalty that Google has rolled recently against link farms and splogs. Google has been fighting against splogs for long but this is a continuous fight between negative or black hat SEO professionals and Google.

Now quality of contents, user friendly pages and relevance of the material would play more decisive roles. At the same time, reliance upon Alexa rank would further increase as that would become a more conclusive criteria to judge the reputation, goodwill and relevancy of a website or blog.

As online advertisement industry is going to grow tremendously in the near future, blogs and websites with high Alexa rank would be in great demand. Similarly, Google's  AdSense program may also need to be suitably modified keeping in mind these developments.

Despite this step, Google may use the page rank for its internal purposes and making its algorithms more effective. The internal ranking mechanism may also be used to fight against websites or blogs that engage in spam behaviour or adopt negative SEO techniques. Nevertheless, page rank is no more publicly available to SEO community and other stakeholders.

We would cover these aspects in more details once official statements and news are out.

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Censorship And Surveillance Under Digital India And Aadhaar Projects

Censorship and surveillance are controversial topics that civil liberty groups love to discuss while oppressive regimes prefer to keep under the carpet. This article is discussing the controversial issues of censorship and e-surveilance in India under the projects like Aadhaar, Digital India, national intelligence grid (Natgrid), etc. Till now it is clear that surveillance and censorship under Digital India and Aadhaar is widely practiced in India.

Adoption of digital India project by Indian government has always been portrayed as a social and welfare oriented initiative. Digital India is treading exactly on similar lines as Aadhaar has worked so far. As Aadhaar has increasingly been tied up by Indian government with digital India, there is no escape from the conclusion that the combination of Aadhaar and digital India is a digital panopticon.

Further, it is also obvious that surveillance and censorship under digital India and Aadhaar regimes are omnipresent. The blog title Internet, Mobile And Social Media Censorship In India By Twitter, Facebook, Google, Etc has been cataloging the censorship and surveillance activities of Indian government and technology companies like Google, Microsoft, Facebook, Twitter, etc for long. A dedicated page titled censorship and surveillance under digital India has also been opened to report about surveillance and censorship activities of Indian government. Censorship and surveillance under Aadhaar project has also been covered by us.

Anyone who is active on social media websites like Twitter, Facebook, etc is well aware that critical tweets and sharing are oftenly censored in India. Twitter is on the forefront of this exercise where Aadhaar and digital India related critical tweets are censored in real time.

As far as e-surveillance is concerned, Indian government is infamous for its blatant e-surveillance with no regard to the constitutional norms. Aadhaar is the final nail in the coffin of civil liberties that are openly violated by Indian government. Civil liberties protection in cyberspace is absent in India. There is no e-surveillance policy of India (pdf) that can govern the illegal and unconstitutional e-surveillance and phone tapping activities of Indian government and its agencies.

Worst part of this situation is that parliamentary oversight of intelligence agencies of India is still missing till date. To give overreaching and illegal e-surveillance and phone tapping powers in the hands of such intelligence agencies is a death knell of civil liberties. India “must reconcile” the civil liberties and national security requirements but the same is presently missing. Clearly India has become a police state with unaccountable Orwellian powers.