Union Budget 2018: The Budget 2018 is about to be out. Every Budget has its own significance but the importance of Budget 2018 can hardly be overstated. While the Budget allocations have been on traditional items of expenditure, growing developments in cyberspace have now increasingly necessitated that specific allocation be made for protection and preservation of cybersecurity.
Every year, the Budget makes significant allocations for defence but the Budget allocations are invariably made keeping in mind the physical world. It is time that specific allocations be made for cyber defence in Budget 2018. This is so because of the significance and importance of cybersecurity. In the last one year, cyber security breaches have immensely increased.
Massive Breaches of India’s Cyber Security
Post-demonetization, a large number of legal and policy challenges have emerged concerning the digital and mobile ecosystem. Consequently, the year 2017 saw massive breaches of cybersecurity and cybercrime incidents in India. A majority of these get unreported but underreporting or non-reporting does not really take away the significance of the huge challenges of cyberspace that India is facing. Various state and non-state actors are continuously trying to breach the cybersecurity of India’s computer resources and computer networks and perpetuate more cyber crimes on Indian citizens with the hope that it will ultimately impact India’s sovereignty and integrity.
When we look at Budget 2018, a critical focus area of allocations would need to be the protection and preservation of cybersecurity. The Government of India needs to allocate dedicated funds in Budget 2018 to deal with prevention of cybersecurity breaches. Clearly, incorporating cybersecurity as part of funds allocations will help. A large number of resources are required in terms of not just hardware and software protection from unauthorized access but also capacity building in order to constantly preserve India’s cyber sovereignty.
Safeguarding Cyber Sovereignty
Cyber sovereignty refers to the sovereignty of Indian interest in cyberspace. These are evolving paradigms which need more enablement and scope. Hence, the expectation of Indian citizens would be that Government would allocate a substantial amount of funds in Budget 2018 for the protection and preservation of cyber security and cyber sovereignty. This becomes even more important, given the various recent instances of Aadhaar breaches, pursuant to which the Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI) registered certain FIRs. The Tribune disclosures have once again shown that breaches of cybersecurity are not normal breaches but these could potentially impact India as a nation. The popular expectation would be that India allocates adequate funds for protecting the cybersecurity and also specific funds for preventing breaches of cybersecurity and for preservation and protection of India’s sovereign interest in cyberspace.
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Digital India cannot succeed without Cyber Security
India has already been empowered by the vision of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his programme Digital India is the next step in the direction of transforming India into a knowledge society and economy. While distinct funds would be allocated to Digital India programme, the Government needs to appreciate that Digital India programme alone cannot succeed without preservation and protection of cybersecurity. Hence, cybersecurity needs to be a dedicated expenditure head.
India must learn from other countries like the US to prioritise Cyber Technology Research
India needs to take lead from what is happening in other parts of the world. The United States has passed the National Defence Authorization Act which provided for a mandate for Blockchain enabled cyber technology research study. This kind of approach needs to be adopted in India as well, aimed at strengthening India’s position in future. All eyes are now on the Government to see as to how it treats the significance of cybersecurity and how it goes forward to come up with specific allocations aimed at protection and preservation of cybersecurity and India’s sovereignty and interests in cyberspace.
The author Pavan Duggal, Advocate, Supreme Court of India, is an internationally acclaimed Authority and Expert on Cyberlaw and Cyber Security Law, Chairman of the International Commission on Cyber Security Law and President of Cyberlaws Net.