Union Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad on Monday said that seven central forensic labs will be notified in three weeks so that they could provide electronic evidence in courts. “Under section 79 (A) of the Information Technology Act, my department notifies forensic laboratories which can give electronic evidence in court. “In three weeks, we will notify seven central forensic laboratories which will also include Gujarat University. Experts from these laboratories can depose in court as expert electronic witnesses,” Prasad, Minister of Electronics and Information Technology, said here on the sidelines of a conference on forensic science.
Addressing the concluding session of the 24th All India Forensic Science Conference, Prasad called on forensic experts to meet the challenges of cyber security during India’s transformation to a digital economy. “India is changing through digital economy, but there are challenges. Many people are abusing this system, and this is our challenge. I would like the forensic team to think about challenges,” Prasad, who also holds the portfolio of law and justice, said.
Prasad said that while India emerged as a major centre for social media platforms like WhatsApp, Facebook and Twitter, some people were misusing it to foment trouble and spread hatred. The minister asked a gathering mainly comprising forensic experts and students: Is it not the duty of the police force to counter false news? And should this not be the work of forensic teams to find out what kind of people are doing this and help police take action against them?
“While we appreciate the rise of the WhatsApp movement in the country, if there is abuse, it is equally the responsibility of forensic teams to understand the challenge. “India is becoming a big centre of data and there is enormous potential for data analysis. If we can use it for good, others can abuse it for bad,” he said, while urging the younger forensic students to come up with innovative and effective solutions to “contain the dark consequences of the dark net”.
Prasad also asked universities teaching forensic science to run campaigns to create awareness among the common public so that they don’t fall prey to the criminals operating on digital platforms. Speaking on the right to privacy, Prasad said: “We respect the right to privacy in terms of income record, medical record. The Modi government supports the right to speech, privacy and empowerment of common man. But it cannot become the shield of the corrupt and terrorists”.
Asked about the recent terror attacks, he said that the government had managed to isolate Pakistan in the world. “Those who attack are also killed or held. Today Pakistan is isolated in the world. I would like to ask the Opposition and Rahul Gandhi on their irresponsible behaviour in seeking proof of the surgical strikes. Today, countries of the Middle East are standing with India on terrorism, and we will be able to destroy their (Pakistan’s) terrorist intention,” he added.