Boosting digital security to empower Digital India

The pandemic has cast its shadow across various economic activities with disruption in global production, logistics, and trade. One of the biggest shifts has been the rapid adoption of digital technologies

August 24, 2020

The Government of India is working towards a robust personal data protection law that will not only address data privacy-related concerns of citizens but also ensure the availability of data for innovation and economic development

Given the benefits that technological advancements bring, the use of cyberspace has been growing steadily. Not just citizens and businesses, but information infrastructure, military, and governments are leveraging digital technologies

One example of India’s IT prowess is the Government’s Aarogya Setu app that augments the efforts to tackle the spread of COVID19. It enables Bluetooth based contact tracing, mapping of hotspots and dissemination of critical information

As it works towards boosting the digital economy, the Government of India aims to eliminate the bureaucratic red tape and secure the country from data thefts and cyber-crimes through various policy and institutional reforms and cyber-laws

Across the globe, the COVID-19 pandemic and measures such as lockdowns and social distancing protocols brought sweeping changes in the functioning of society and businesses. The pandemic has cast its shadow across various economic activities with disruption in global production, logistics, and trade. One of the biggest shifts has been the rapid adoption of digital technologies.

India was already in the midst of a digital transformation even before the pandemic unleashed its disruption. In 2014, The Government of India launched Digital India, a flagship programme of the Government of India aimed at transforming India into a digitally empowered society and knowledge economy. The focus was primarily on three areas. The first was to bring digital Infrastructure as a core utility to every citizen. The second was governance and services on demand, and the third was the digital empowerment of citizens. 

With these initiatives, the country is experiencing a digital revolution that is triggering transformative developments in areas like e-payments, digital literacy, financial inclusion, geographic mapping, rural development, and much more.

Tackling the Digital Security Threat

While digital technologies certainly open up a world of opportunities, they also give rise to a considerable security threat that needs to be managed. Digital platforms are often prone to cyber theft, data stealing, phishing, and cyber threats through various computer viruses such as malware, ransomware, etc. These viruses can be induced into systems by cyber hackers to steal data and manipulate them to their advantage. Such threats from cyberspace can potentially endanger all aspects of the life of a common citizen. 

As Shri Ravi Shankar Prasad, Minister of Electronics and IT, Government of India, reiterated at the recent G20 Digital meet, digital platforms need to be responsive, accountable, and sensitive to concerns of sovereign nations regarding issues like data privacy and security of citizens. 

It is in line with this that the Government of India recently took the step to ban of 59 foreign mobile applications that presented security and privacy-related concerns. According to an official statement, intelligence suggested that these apps are engaged in activities that are prejudicial to the sovereignty and integrity of India, defence of India, the security of the state, and public order.

In addition, the Government of India is also working towards a robust personal data protection law that will not only address the data privacy-related concerns of citizens but also ensure the availability of data for innovation and economic development.

Given the numerous benefits that technological advancements bring, the use of cyberspace has been growing steadily. It is not just citizens and businesses, but also critical information infrastructure sectors, military, and governments that are leveraging digital technologies. There is also considerable information exchange among these groups, making it difficult to draw clear boundaries. As the complexity increases in the future due to an explosion in demand for connected devices and new networks, ensuring security becomes even more difficult.  

As part of his speech on the occasion of India’s 74th Independence Day, Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi too touched upon the magnitude of the digital security threat. He also announced that India will soon come out with a new cybersecurity policy. 

Leveraging the Growth Opportunities 

As we grapple with the global pandemic, the focus needs to be on business continuity and sectoral revival along with ways to improve Ease of Doing Business in India while effectively leveraging digital technologies. 

The Government’s initiative towards an ‘Atmanirbhar Bharat’ will provide a great boost to the “Make in India” campaign and fuel economic growth. One great example of India’s IT prowess is the Aarogya Setu mobile app launched by the Government to help augment the efforts of limiting the spread of COVID19. It enables Bluetooth based contact tracing, mapping of likely hotspots, and dissemination of relevant information about COVID19. 

In a post-COVID world, the role of technology will become even more important as technology adoption becomes extensive across sectors. The Government’s efforts towards building a robust technology infrastructure through projects such as Government eMarketplace (GeM) for the trading of agricultural produce, Global Partnership on AI (GPAI), UMANG app to avail Government services, and the National Center Of Geoinformatics (NCOG) are bearing fruit. There are several indigenous innovations in the space that have further driven growth. 

The adoption of these has created new trade and investment opportunities. These are bolstered by the widespread uptake of new digital technologies by common citizens in their day-to-day lives.  

As it works towards boosting the digital economy, the Government aims to eliminate the bureaucratic red tape and secure the country from data thefts and cyber-crimes through various reforms and cyber-laws. Greater cybersecurity coupled with a greater thrust on digital technologies will certainly help India derive a significant competitive advantage.