Zero tolerance on anonymity being cover for online crime, says MoS IT

Zero tolerance on anonymity being cover for online crime, says MoS IT

New Delhi: The government has 'zero tolerance' on anonymity being a cover for crimes committed online, and production of evidence during the course of a criminal investigation is an "unambiguous obligation" on intermediaries and players, IT Minister Rajeev Chandrasekhar asserted on Tuesday.

He was responding to a question about some VPN providers pulling out servers from India in the aftermath of the new cybersecurity rules introduced recently, even as they have purportedly assured users of continued services.

The Ministry of Electronics and IT has mandated cloud service providers, VPN (Virtual Private Network) firms, data centre companies and virtual private server providers to store users' data for at least five years.

Following this, there have been reports that Express VPN has removed its servers from India, becoming the first major VPN player to do so after the cybersecurity rules were introduced.

"There are some companies who believe that anonymity is their express marketing USP. For us, anonymity is not a safe harbour for criminality," the minister said, observing that some companies had build their entire business model around anonymity.

The production of evidence in case of a crime, or during investigation, is an "absolutely unambiguous obligation" of every intermediary, he said.

"You don't give us data. We don't want any data. But when there is an illegality committed, you should definitely be in a position to produce the data and information about who committed it...," the minister said.

He further said, "We are going to have zero tolerance on anonymity being a cover for crime online."

To another question on his meeting with gaming startups, the minister indicated that discussions would be around creation of a framework.

On whether there is a possibility of a central level rule or law to oversee gaming, he said, "We will see."

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