07 Aug Indian Security Physically Searches Cellphones in Kashmir, IT Law Insufficient
Kashmir, India – Last Sunday, reports stated that Kashmir authorities were allegedly seizing civilians’ cellphones in search of incriminating WhatsApp messages, photos, and videos suggesting militant support.
While citizens report numerous forced-search incidents, Indian officials said they do not conduct such searches. The inspections intensified after commander Burhan Wani of Hizbul Mujahideen was killed.
According to Khurram Parvez, chairman of Jammu and Kashmir’s Coalition of Civil Societies, they are already aware that authorities are monitoring citizen’s phone calls and online use. The situation, he states, is increasingly making civilians vulnerable to privacy violations.
To cyber law expert Pavan Duggal, the inspections overstep the citizens’ fundamental right to dignified human life. Though the Information Technology Act (2000) provides laws covering government surveillance, it has insufficient provisions for cases with physical searches of cellphones and digital media.
Duggal asserts that a special law must be drafted to check private messages in phones before authorities could conduct such searches.