March 1, 2024

Lukmaan IAS

A Blog for IAS Examination

EXEMPTION OF CERT-In FROM RTI ACT

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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.

SOURCE: https://theprint.in/india/centre-exempts-cert-in-from-ambit-of-rti-act/1858355/

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