THE GIST of Editorial for UPSC Exams : 19 October 2020 Data insecurity (Indian Express)

Data insecurity (Indian Express)

Mains Paper 2: International 
Prelims level: Cyber Security
Mains level: Effect of policies and politics of developed and developing countries on India’s interests


  • A report recently revealed how a Shenzhen-based big data firm, with links to the Chinese government, is systematically tracking over 10,000 prominent Indian citizens.
  • Following so, the government, on Wednesday, set up an expert committee under the National Cyber Security Coordinator to examine the revelations and the broader implications of digital surveillance on the privacy and personal data of Indian citizens.

Data being compromised:

  • Considering that the concerns over data security that lie at the heart of this investigation are also in line with apprehensions that led to the Indian government’s decision to ban Chinese apps, this is a welcome development.
  • These issues need to be addressed. However, this is not a specifically Indian concern.
  • US President’s stance on TikTok underlines growing concerns across the world, over personal data being compromised and finding its way into jurisdictions over which there is no control.
  • At the core of these revelations is the worry that in an increasingly digital world, large quantities of seemingly unrelated, innocuous data can be amassed, pieced together, and then deployed for other purposes, with the individual concerned having little or no say over the flow of information.
  • While some may raise questions over the usability of the data, the chances of “actionable intelligence” rise manifold as the quantum of data collected multiplies.
  • The sheer scale, both in terms of width and depth, at which the targeted tracking of Indian citizens is being undertaken — from politicians, to bureaucrats, industrialists and civil society — alludes to the possibility of this threat materialising.
  • In a liberal open democracy, such concerns should be articulated and addressed in a transparent manner.
  • The necessary regulation to protect individual rights can be framed after consulting all stakeholders and accountability must be assigned.

Data surveillance:

  • While the issue has been raised with Beijing, the government must frame a strategy to deal with the issue of data surveillance at multiple levels.
  • To begin with, norms of cyber hygiene — enforcing strict protocols on what information key government functionaries can share on social media platforms — could be enforced.
  • Careful thought must go into building the institutional capacity required to pre-empt disinformation campaigns which the collected information could be deployed for.
  • After all, the hybrid warfare strategy that incorporates this data seeks to do just that, to create social discord, discredit leadership and undermine institutions.
  • Equally urgent is the task of putting in place a robust personal data protection framework with explicit provisions for seeking consent on data sharing and for examining and monitoring flow of information to third parties.


  • Committee to examine digital surveillance is a welcome first step. A robust personal data protection framework is needed.

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Prelims Questions:

Q.1)With reference to the Himalayan Day, consider the following statements:
1. It is celebrated on the 9th of September every year so as to sensitize the people on the importance of this fragile ecosystem as also to highlight the various issues concerning it.
2. Himalayan Day was first observed in Sikkim in 2010.
Which of the statements given above is/are correct?
(a) 1 only
(b) 2 only
(c) Both 1 and 2
(d) Neither 1 nor 2

Answer: A

Mains Questions:

Q.1)Describe the need for Cyber Security Framework. What are the challenges in India’s Cyber Security approach? Also discuss about the Indian Laws and Government Initiatives and their significance relating to Cyber Security approach.