Netizens of Bangalore Demand…
Karnataka is going to polls shortly. Political parties are busy in finalizing their candidates. An action group called Bangalore Political Action Committee (BPAC) which consists of eminent personalities such as Kiran Mazumdar Shaw, Mohandas Pai and others have urged the politicians to commit themselves to make “Bangalore a better city”. (See this report).
While endorsing the views of the BPAC that Bangalore should be made a better city, I would like to point out that Bangalore being the IT Capital of India has a large population of “Netizens” and therefore the voters of Bangalore have a huge stake in the welfare of the Bangalore Cyber Space. What is good for Bangalore Cyber Space is also good for Karnataka Cyber Space and also the India Cyber Space or even the global Cyber Space.
I therefore would like to bring the following demands on behalf of the Netizens of India before the BPAC as well as other politicians aspiring to contest in the forthcoming elections.
The current charter of demand is as follows:
1. Recognize the existence of Netizens as part of the voting Citizens by providing a “Digital ID” to every Netizen of India with which he can participate in e-Governance in a manner that the law of the land will recognize. For this purpose every Citizen who opts for Digital ID should be given a free Digital Signature Certificate as per the provisions of ITA 2008 of the class that enables him to digitally sign e-mails. Higher class of digital certificates if opted for should be subsidized by the Government.
This move will build the basic infrastructure for the Netizens to participate in activities through which they can assert their democratic rights.
2. Recognize and the fact that Netizens have their own Infrastructural needs and develop a “Netizen Welfare Policy” for the State which incorporates projects that move towards providing “High Bandwidth Internet Connection” at an affordable cost just like water and electricity.
3. Recognize the fact that Netizens have their own security needs and develop an effective Cyber Security policy for the State and implementation program towards making Karnataka a “Safe Cyber State”.
During the regime of Mr Yeddyurappa as Chief Minister of the State a statement was made that measures will be taken to make the “Cyber Security Capital” of the world. Towards this cyber security projects of various kinds including education, research, software and hardware development etc were envisaged to be taken. The measures include making Cyber Crime Police more effective, reducing the adverse impact of cyber crimes on the society with better security, better prosecution and provision of Cyber crime insurance.
This promise remains unfulfilled and needs to be revived.
4. Recognize the fact that during the last two years, Cyber Judicial System in Karnataka has been closed with the IT Secretary who is also the Adjudicator of Karnataka and an exclusive judicial authority equivalent to a “Civil Judge”, effectively refusing to discharge his duties as an “Adjudicator”. This has made Karnataka the “Most Backward Cyber State of India”.
This needs to be corrected on a priority.
5. Recognize the fact that Netizens have a right similar to “Human Rights”. Protection of Netizen’s right to “Freedom of Expression” and “Privacy” are matters that require urgent attention. Measures are required to be taken at the local level to develop such policies that protect the rights of Netizens without adversely affecting the requirements of the security of the state or the possible misuse of the freedom of expression.
Towards this requirement, a “Netizen Rights Commission” has to be set up at the State level and policies of “Regulated Anonymity” and “Responsible Cyber Expression” to be implemented.
6. Recognize that Netizens are also “Consumers in Cyber Space”. In order to adequately recognize the “Consumer Rights of Netizens”, there is a need to expand and introduce effective implementation mechanism for protection of “E Consumer Protection” through a state legislation that covers consumers of mobile services, internet services, cyber cafes etc.
A large number of E Consumers are customers of E Banking, E Stock trading, E Commodity trading etc where the incidence of frauds is very high and the relative protection is low.
A separate institution should be set up for “E-Financial Consumer Protection” to provide assistance to victims of Cyber Frauds in the financial sector. This will be particularly useful to the Cooperative banking sector which functions under the State regulations more than under the RBI.
7. Recognize the power of “Cyber Education” and extend “Virtual Education” facility to all students upto X standard across the State by setting up “Centralized Cyber School” with a pool of state’s best teachers to contribute content which can be distributed through the internet to remote areas where there is acute shortage of qualified teachers.
In order to ensure implementation of the above suggestions, monitor and review the developments as also to suggest corrections and new activities, the State should set up a “Standing Committee” under the leadership and participation of voluntary organziations such as BPAC.
I am sending copies of this charter of demand to some prominent political parties and expect them to come up with their responses.
Netizen Activist and Founder www.naavi.org