TAG: GS 2: POLITY AND GOVERNANCE
THE CONTEXT: Recently, the Central government has exempted the Computer Emergency Response Team (CERT-In) from the ambit of the Right to Information (RTI) Act, 2005.
BACKGROUND AND SIGNIFICANCE:
- Role of CERT-In:
- CERT-In is the national nodal agency under the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology.
- It is responsible for responding to computer security incidents, handling cybersecurity emergencies, and issuing guidelines to prevent cyber threats.
- Its exemption from the RTI Act means that the public may no longer have direct access to seek information through the RTI route from CERT-In.
IMPLICATIONS OF EXEMPTION:
- Reduced Transparency:
- The exemption effectively reduces the transparency and accountability of CERT-In operations as it removes the obligation to disclose information under the RTI Act.
- Citizens and stakeholders may face challenges in accessing information related to cybersecurity incidents, response measures, and guidelines issued by CERT-In.
- National Security and Confidentiality:
- The exemption might be justified concerning national security and confidentiality concerns.
- CERT-In deals with sensitive information related to cybersecurity threats and responses, which might warrant confidentiality.
- Impact on Governance:
- The RTI Act empowers citizens to seek information from government organizations to ensure transparency and hold authorities accountable.
- Exempting CERT-In might raise concerns about governance transparency in the cybersecurity domain.
AMENDMENT TO RTI ACT:
- Personnel Ministry’s Notification:
- The Personnel Ministry has amended Section 24 of the RTI Act, adding CERT-In to the list of organizations exempted from RTI provisions.
- CERT-In joins the existing list of 26 intelligence and security organizations already exempted from providing information under the RTI Act, except in matters related to corruption and human rights violations.
- Transparency Exceptions:
- While transparency is crucial, certain sensitive agencies are exempted from RTI provisions to protect national security and confidentiality.
- However, the exemption does not cover allegations of corruption and human rights violations.
PUBLIC CONCERNS AND REACTIONS:
- Access to Information:
- The exemption raises concerns among the public, activists, and stakeholders about limited access to information crucial for understanding cybersecurity threats and response strategies.
- Balance between Security and Transparency:
- Debates revolve around finding a balance between ensuring national security and maintaining transparency and accountability in government operations, particularly in critical domains like cybersecurity.
- Need for Clarity:
- There might be a need for clear guidelines or mechanisms to ensure accountability, even with the exemption, to address concerns about transparency without compromising national security interests.