Lacunae in privacy laws and the ubiquitous USB memory stick

K K Mookhey, NII Consulting

Two recent events bring to light how the lacunae in India’s privacy laws are now hitting where it hurts most – the bottomline. According to this report in the Economic Times, Apple and Powergen have moved their back-office operations out of India. This follows closely on the heels of the HSBC data theft scam, where an employee in HSBC’s BPO operations siphoned off close to a quarter million pounds from customers. This is just the latest in a series of BPO scandals that have left the Indian ITES industry floundering for explanations and NASSCOM issuing face-saving statements.

The other story is about a spy stealing sensitive data from the National Security Council Secretariat. The data was carried out using USB drives as well as print outs and SMSes. Apparently, Roasanne Minchew the spy in question did this under the cover of the much-hyped Indo-US Cyber Security Forum.
The fact of the matter is that all of the suggestions being put forward – such as establishment of a global database of BPO employees, frisking of employees, banning cellphones and cameras in offices – are ad-hoc. Nothing is likely to change until the IT Act is radically modified. And this has to be accompanied by the establishment of special courts for the quick dispensation of justice and punitive measures against violators of data privacy.


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