Budget 2018: India’s cyber sovereignty constantly on attack, cyber security not dealt with specifically, urgent need for allocation of funds

Budget 2018: The Government of India has presented the Annual Budget before the Parliament. The Budget 2018 has recognized the importance, power, and significance of emerging cyber technologies which are indeed contributing to making a strong and robust digital economy.

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Budget 2018: The Budget has also recognized the role of technology in advancing benefits to the poor and has emphasized the need for more research and developments. (Image: Reuters)

Budget 2018: The Budget has recognized the role that emerging technologies like Artificial Intelligence, Internet of Things, blockchains, machine learning and quantum communication can play, to have a constructive impact on India’s progress. In this context, it is timely that the Budget has proposed the launching of a National Mission on Cyber-Physical Systems which will look at research, training and skilling aspects in these new emerging technologies. The Budget has also recognized the role of technology in advancing benefits to the poor and has emphasized the need for more research and developments in technologies like Artificial Intelligence.

No mention of cybersecurity and no allocation of funds

Given the futuristic vision of the Budget 2018, when one looks at the budget, one has a normal expectation that the budget would deal with the most topical issue under discussion at a global level, being cybersecurity. Cybersecurity as a paradigm is increasingly becoming significantly critical for all nation states. The plethora of cybersecurity breaches across the globe has prompted many countries to swing into action. Different countries have already or are in the process of allocating budgetary allocations for dealing with and preventing cybersecurity breaches and doing advanced research in this area.

However, when one looks at the Budget 2018 one finds that the Indian Budget 2018 does not mention the word cybersecurity. Consequently, there is no discussion or allocation of funds proposed for this important cyberspace paradigm.

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No proposed allocations for cyber deterrence or resilience

In addition, there are no proposed allocations of funds for either cyber deterrence or cyber resilience. At a time where India is likely to become a target of potential cybersecurity breaches by various state and non-state actors and given the strategic significance of India, one would have expected that the Indian Budget 2018 would substantially focus on cybersecurity. However, no initiatives or allocations concerning protection and preservation on cybersecurity, find mention in the budget. No wonder, cybersecurity continues to be a big ticket item which has not been specifically dealt with under the Budget 2018.

I strongly believe that India has to allocate separate funds for protection and preservation of its cyber sovereignty. This is so as India’s cyber sovereignty is constantly on the attack. Various challenges are likely to try affecting India’s cyber-sovereignty in the form of potential breaches of cybersecurity. These may either originate from the superficial web or the dark web. In this context, it becomes absolutely imperative to appreciate that there is an urgent need for allocation of specific direct funds, which can help fund programmes for protection and preservation of India’s cyber sovereignty.

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Cyber resilience is an important subject, which requires appropriate financial and monetary support by the government. At a time where large number of India’s critical information infrastructure are not really secure and at a time where the concept of cyber resilience is increasingly gaining significant importance, it is imperative that appropriate funds on cyber resilience need to be so allocated to make Indian digital ecosystems far more robust.

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It needs to be noted that while the budget proposals have been proposed by the Finance Minister, the said budget proposals would be extensively debated and discussed in the Parliament. Hopefully, before the Parliament passes the said budget proposals, the government would see the need for allocating specific funds for not just protection and preservation of cybersecurity but also for strengthening cyber deterrence and cyber resilience. India’s sovereign interests are invaluable and protecting them becomes a topmost responsibility of a sovereign nation like ours. All steps must be taken to provide an allocation of funds for all those activities which can help strengthen, protect and preserve India’s cyber sovereignty.

The author Pavan Duggal, the Advocate, Supreme Court of India, is an internationally acclaimed authority and expert on Cyberlaw and Cyber Security Law and has been acknowledged as one of the top four cyber lawyers in the world. He is also Chairman of the International Commission on Cyber Security Law and President of Cyberlaws.Net and can be reached at pavan@pavanduggal.com, pduggal@vsnl.com.

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