The most important aspect of
Section 43A compliance is the appointment of a "Grievance Officer" to
handle the complaints that may be received from the data subjects.
Naavi advocates that the person so designated may be called the "Sec
43A Compliance officer" and be expected to take the responsibility
for the compliance of all aspects of Privacy Protection as envisaged in
the Act. It must be remembered that ITA 2008 mandates that for several
aspects of compliance officials need to be designated. Hence if the
Company is working on an overall ITA 2008 compliance regime, one
official will be designated as an ITA 2008 compliance official. Such a
person would also be a compliance official under Section 43A.
The second most important
aspect of Sec 43A compliance is to ascertain the applicability of the
section to the organization and identification of the information that
is subject to protection under the section. This requires information
classification to determine what is "Personal Information" and
"Sensitive Personal Information" within the information domain of the
Company. It is also necessary to identify what is the role of the
organization in handling these information. Does the company handle it
as an "Intermediary" under the Act ? or as a "Owner"? or as a "Business
Associate"?. The applicability of the section has to be determined
based on the role. It is possible that an organization can be an
"Intermediary", "Owner" and a "Business Associate" all at the same time
for different sets of information that it may come to generate, store
or transmit. Sec 43A applies when a data provider and the Company has a
direct relationship through a lawful contract. It must be also
recognized that the rules of April 11, 2011 are subordinate to the Sec
43A in the parent act and hence provisions of the Act override the rule
to the extent there could be alternatives available for compliance. The
rule may therefore be redundant in many cases.
If a Company is liable under
Sec 43A, then it is necessary to develop a set of three policy
"Sensitive Personal Information Security Policy" taking into account
the detailed requirements under the Section including their
dissemination to the employees, data providers, associates and other
stake holders as may be relevant.
Based on the prescriptions
under the rule, the Company needs to set up technical and non technical
controls to comply with the Privacy, Disclosure and Security policies
adopted by the Company. It is necessary to appreciate that controls of
"Techno Legal Nature" cannot always be accomplished completely only by
technical measures. There needs to be human intervention from time to
time and documentation of such interventions. The compliance official
will be the key person to provide such human intervention and depending
on the specific needs may have to take the assistance of other
functional executives of the company.
As a final step, the Company
needs to get an audit conducted to ensure that its documentation of
compliance is completed. The notification under the Section makes a
clear statement under rule 8(4) that
"The body corporate or a
person on its behalf who have implemented either IS/ISO/IEC 27001
standard or the codes of best practices for data protection as approved
and notified under sub-rule (3) shall be deemed to have complied with
reasonable security practices and procedures provided that such
standard or the codes of best practices have been certified or audited
on a regular basis by entities through independent auditor, duly
approved by the Central Government.
The audit of reasonable
security practices and procedures shall be carried cut by an auditor at
least once a year or as and when the body corporate or a person on its
behalf undertake significant upgradation of its process and computer
It is necessary to draw the
attention of the Companies however to the rule 8(1) which states:
"A body corporate or a
person on its behalf shall be considered to have complied with
reasonable security practices and procedures, if they have implemented such
security practices and standards and have a comprehensively documented
information security programme and information security policies
that contain managerial, technical, operational and physical security
that are commensurate with the information assets being protected with
the nature of business.
In the event of an information security breach, the body corporate or a
person on its behalf shall be required to demonstrate, as and
when called upon to do so by the agency mandated under the law, that
they have implemented security control measures as per their documented
information security programme and information security policies. "
Following this general
comprehensive definition of what is "Reasonable Security Practice"
under rule 8(1), sub rule 8(2) states that
Standard IS/ISO/IEC 27001 on "Information Technology - Security
Techniques - Information Security Management System - Requirements" is
one such standard referred to in sub-rule (1)."
A combination of rule 8(2)
and 8(4) gives an impression that ISO 27001 is a necessary and
sufficient compliance of Section 43A of ITA 2008.
Rule 8(3) however provides
that there is scope for alternate security frameworks to be adopted
by industry associations or an entity formed by such associations
whose members wants to develop a self regulatory policy.The rule states
association or an entity formed by such an association, whose members
are self-regulating by following other than IS/ISO/IEC codes of best
practices for data protection as per sub-rule(1), shall get its codes
of best practices duly approved and notified by the Central Government
for effective implementation"
It is to be noted that such
frameworks have to be however approved as a code of best practice and
notified by the Central Government just as the current rules have been
approved through a Gazette Notification.
Since at present there are no
approved frameworks of any such association and also that the procedure
for approval requires the MCIT to give its nod, it is evident that the
rules have been so framed as to make it appear that all Companies need
to undertake an annual ISO 27001 audit.
While companies who have
already undergone ISO 27001 audit may feel comfortable and may quote
rule 8(4) whenever there is a question as to whether the company has
complied with Sec 43A or not, it is necessary to point out that
"Compliance under Section 43A needs to stand the test of rule 8(1)
where it is necessary for the Company to demonstrate when called upon
to do so by the agency mandated under the law, that they have
implemented security control measures as per their documented
information security programme and information security policies".
Companies who intend to rely
on existing ISO 27001 audits as a sufficient compliance measure need to
take note that it is unlikely that the current audits have covered Sec
43A compliance. Though ISO 27001 mandates that "The organization
must comply with applicable legislation such as copyright, data
protection, protection of financial data and other vital records,
cryptography restrictions, rules of evidence etc." most
ISO 27001 auditors rely on the list of local applicable laws as
declared by the management of the Company and proceed to issue ISO
27001 compliance certificates. Also any audit which has been done prior
to April 11, 2011 cannot be considered to have considered the law which
came to be known only on April 11, 2011 and hence no audit conducted
prior to April 11, 2011 can qualify as sufficient to establish
compliance of Sec 43A. Only future audits where the ISO 27001 auditor
has specifically taken into consideration the implications of Sec 43A
rules and incorporated them in his audit will qualify to be considered
as a sufficient audit. Such auditors may use the framework suggested
here to certify the Sec 43A compliance.
If any company tries to
defend a legal claim for damages under this section using an imperfect
ISO 27001 audit, the victim may challenge their defense in the Court of
law stating that an "ISO 27001 audit done prior of April 11 2011" or
any other "SO 27001 audit which does not specifically demonstrate that
the auditor has considered the compliance of Sec 43A" may be
considered as invalid.
Naavi had raised serious
objection to the department introducing an ambiguity into the April 11
rule to give an impression to unsuspecting public that ISO 27001 is a
necessary and sufficient compliance of Sec 43A.
Naavi's objections were on
the following three grounds.
a) By mentioning that ISO
27001 is one such framework which satisfies the rules, the Government
of India is providing a Certificate" to ISO 27001 through a document
which has statutory significance. Since ISO 27001 organization is not
an Indian Government entity, promotion of such an organization by law
is ultra vires the constitution.
b) By mentioning ISO 27001
as a part of the rule, the Government of India has made the
specifications under ISO 27001 as part of the Indian legislation.
However, specifications under ISO 27001 being a proprietary
specification and costs around US $160/- for acquisition, the
Government's move suggests that 1.2 billion Indian citizens who have a
right to know the law of the land have to spend US $160/- each or
remain ignorant of the finer provisions of law. This is a tax on the
community and DIT has no authority for the same.
c) If all stakeholders
under Sec 43A need to undergo ISO 27001 audit annually, there are not
sufficient number of auditors available in the globe and hence most
companies will remain non compliant. The cost of even 10 lakh stake
holders going in for ISO 27001 audit each year will involve investments
of the order of money involved in 2G scam and hence Parliament needs to
review this departmental decision.
The DIT has admitted in an
RTI reply that the department did not collect any information on the
status of ISO audits in India before the rule was framed nor assessed
the cost of compliance by the industry.
Further the Director of DIT
Mr Prafulla Kumar in his letter dated 11th July 2011 has clarified as
Naavi has however continued
his efforts to ensure that the DIT modifies the rule under Sec 43A by
deleting sub rules 8(2), 8(3) and 8(4).
Naavi's Sec 43A compliance
framework therefore does not consider that ISO 27001 audit per-se is
sufficient and recommends companies to super impose their ISO 27001
audits with a specific ITA 2008 audit conducted under the framework
such as IISF-309 which includes and recognizes technical compliancy
measures undertaken and approved under the ISO 27001 audit.
It is open to industry
associations to take all the relevant facts into consideration and
ideally come up with a framework suitable for the specific industry and
seek Government approval for the same.
Indian BPO industry which
processes information of foreign nationals as a business associate of a
data collector abroad needs can therefore develop a separate framework
suitable for them. Similarly, companies which are foreign owned and
have back office data processing centers in India primarily directed to
processing of data of non Indian citizens may also consider a modified
framework suitable for them. Banking industry needs to follow the GGWG
guidelines and a framework based on GGWG is therefore more appropriate
to the Banking industry and they may consider getting the same endorsed