Cybercrime: Countering use of technology for cybercrime, India tells UN ad hoc group

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New Delhi: India is seeking global action to counter the use of a slew of technologies, including virtual private networks, end-to-end encrypted messaging services, and blockchain-based technologies such as cryptocurrency by terrorists, people aware of the development told ET, reflecting its national stance on the issue.

In their suggestions to members of a United Nations ad hoc committee debating a comprehensive international convention on combating the use of information and communications technologies for criminal purposes, Indian officials said: ‘anonymity, scale, speed and reach afforded to (terrorists) and increasing the possibility of them remaining untraceable to law enforcement’ using these technologies remains one of the main challenges facing the world is facing.

In order to curb cybercrime globally, member states must agree on a cooperative framework for “freezing and returning” cybercrime proceeds, Indian officials told the ad hoc committee of the UN, which met in Vienna from May 30 to June 10.

ET reviewed copies of speeches delivered by the Indian contingent at the conference.

The Foreign Ministry, which led the Indian delegation, did not respond to questions from this newspaper about it.

Noting that most cybercrimes are committed for economic gain, officials told the gathering that “money is laundered using innovative online means such as the use of cryptocurrency. Often, this movement of money occurs in many countries before being diverted by the perpetrators of crimes, including cyber-terrorists using emerging technologies to finance terrorist activities.

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“If we want to curb cybercrime, we must cooperate on freezing and returning these products,” India said during the committee’s intersessional meeting.

The multilateral grouping responsible for drawing up a comprehensive international convention on the fight against the use of information and communication technologies for criminal purposes was created by a resolution at the 74th session of the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) in January 2020.

It was established as an “open-ended ad hoc intergovernmental committee of experts, representative of all regions,” which would discuss and decide on the development of an international convention to combat global cybercrime. Since then, the committee has met four times, three times in New York and once in Vienna.

VPN companies are leaving India

India’s suggestions to the UN ad hoc committee are in line with its regulatory approach in its country.

On April 28, India’s Computer Emergency Response Team (Cert In) released a set of guidelines that require companies providing VPN (virtual private network) services to keep a log of their users for five years. . They are also known to store other information such as username, email id used when signing up for the service, contact number and internet protocol addresses among other details.

Three VPN companies, ExpressVPN, Surfshark and NordVPN have since left India, citing their inability to continue services in the country due to new Cert In rules.

Despite the concerted pushback from VPN companies, privacy activists, technology policy groups and cybersecurity experts who argue that such provisions would undermine user privacy and security, the center is remained firm in his position.

Rajeev Chandrasekhar, the state’s IT minister, also said companies that did not want to adhere to the standards were “free to leave India”.

hard position

Separately, the Information Technology (IT) Rules of 2021 require internet platforms, which provide instant messaging services, to provide a means of tracking the first sender of the message, even when it is end-to-end encrypted. The rule is being challenged in the Delhi High Court.

On several occasions, senior ministers as well as officials from the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology have reiterated their position that tech giants should not hide behind the “excuse” of anonymity. when such traceability requests are made by law enforcement.

At a recent press conference on the Cert-In guidelines, Chandrasekhar told reporters that the government would adopt a “zero tolerance” policy on anonymity as a cover for online crimes.

The production of evidence, the minister said, was an “unambiguous obligation” that VPN service providers, social media intermediaries and instant messaging platforms had, and they could not then claim not to have the details that the wanted because the platform was “end-to-end” encrypted.

Similarly, in a discussion hosted by the International Monetary Fund in April, Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman said global regulation of cryptocurrencies was crucial to mitigating the risk of terrorist financing and money laundering. silver.

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