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Government withdraws draft of controversial encryption policy

  • The government has withdrawn the draft of the National Encryption Policy, after a massive public outcry over a proposal to mandatorily store data in plain text (unencrypted) format for 90 days.
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    • The government has withdrawn the draft of the National Encryption Policy, after a massive public outcry over a proposal to mandatorily store data in plain text (unencrypted) format for 90 days.
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    • “In view of the concerns raised over the encryption policy, I have asked the draft to be withdrawn, made changes to and then re-released,” Telecom Ravi Shankar Prasad said today.
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    • The proposal (for a National Encryption Policy) was released for public feedback without his knowledge, said Prasad, acknowledging that it was poorly worded, and is being reworked.
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    • The minister clarified that it was just a draft and not a policy of the government.
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    • Prasad said no ordinary consumer would be affected by the encryption policy, and that the purpose of encryption was not related to WhatsApp, Facebook and other social media messaging platforms.
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    • The proposed policy document triggered widespread privacy concerns and generated a heated debate.
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    • The language of the draft was open to interpretation, and implied that all citizens who use encryption services should store in plain text versions of encrypted communication for 90 days. For instance, WhatsApp messages were required to be stored for 90 days or one had to face action in case asked to reproduce old messages.
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    • The government is batting for data encryption as it helps avoid unauthorised access. Banks and e-commerce sites use encryption to protect financial data, and online government sites and several other messaging platforms use encryption to protect personal data and so on. 

     

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