Adv. Prashant Mali, is a famous International Cybersecurity & Cyber Law Expert Lawyer. He practices in cybercrime, Data Protection Law, AI, Blockchain, Fintech, E-commerce, Financial & EOW crimes, Privacy Law, Trademarks, Copyright, Consumer & Electronic Evidence. A Practising Bombay High Court Lawyer & Legal Counsel in Mumbai, India. He is country’s only technology lawyer with prior working experience in the IT Industry & then in Law Field with Qualifications as Masters in Computer Science (M.Sc.), Masters in Law (LLM), Certified Computer Forensics Expert (CCFP).
Awarded “Best Cyber Lawyer 2017” award presented by the Legend Soli Sorabjee,“Cyber Security Lawyer of the Year: India 2016” by Financial Magazine (UK),“Cyber Security Professional of the year (Asia Pacific):2016 by Infosec Group, “Cyber Law & Cyber Security Lawyer of the Year:2014” by INBA , Infosec Maestros “Special Achievement Award for Excellence in Cyber Law“.
- After qualifying as B.Sc.(Physics, what made you opt M.Sc. in computer science & Law for your career?
Ans: I always wanted to be a Doctor and had great interests in human anatomy & biology, but failed to secure a seat in medical college after 12th.I started with my BSc course and I joined NIIT Computer course as computers were a hot topic that time and devoid in my BSc curriculum. I started teaching computers from the second year of my BSc and thus teaching became my passion and it continues so as of date. I worked for some computer institutes and then Join CMC Limited, A Government of India Enterprise.
I did my MSc (Computer Science) and LLB after leaving my job at CMC Limited. I had a clear intuition to per-sue cyber law and my earlier IT Company experience coupled with my certifications and Qualifications was standing out. I took the risk and started Cyber Law Consulting a legal firm, but since there was less awareness around work was not there. I use to do IT Security Audits to meet my ends and slowly as the word spread work started flowing in. Perseverance and attitude to walk on the path chosen with full devotion paid off. I strongly feel people with Computer Science or IT Graduation coupled with LLB or Computers Engineers with LLB can make a great mark in the area of technology, e-commerce, IPR, Data Protection, and Cyber Law.
- In this growing world, what are the various aspects of cyberlaw and in what matters do you see our national legal system is still lacking behind?
Ans: As I speak there are scores of cyber crime matters piled up before Indian courts and waiting for the justice being done. Not having special and separate “Cyber Crime Magistrates Court” with trained judges and Public Prosecutors is dampening the spirit of Digital India as a whole. The civil wing of the cyber world i.e the adjudication officers in the state and the appellate tribunal where damages and compensation are claimed are still in slumber after 18 years of the law being passed. While Indian courts are embracing the technology, speedy justice still remains a long drawn dream for a common Indian. I feel there is a grave need for special Cybercrime court at every district handling criminal matters. Appreciation of Electronic evidence needs proper storage and retrieval, Indian courts are yet to wake up and make some SOP for the same.
- The European Union has taken the lead in amending its existing data protection laws by introducing GDPR, How is Indian Personal Data Protection Bill panning up? and what would be Data Protection landscape in India?
Ans: In the footsteps of GDPR, India is also ready with PDPA, 2018 i.e the Personal Data Protection Bill or India’s Data Protection Act. We have taken a long time and deliberations across the country to come up with this bill. India and Europe privacy landscapes cannot be matched word to word as both have different cultures. While Privacy is the part of the culture in European countries, Indian culture promotes Openness based on undocumented trust. The world is ready for GDPR now but only to the consultants could interpret the various articles. The test of GDPR and even the Indian Law would come when it is applied in real life. Privacy goal post changes with newer incidents of breach are discovered. Since their lacks of the jurisprudence of privacy or data protection law, every incident, every case and judgment thereof will reinvent the whole law again and again. Indian police and courts will mature over time to the data protection law at least over next 10-15 years. With loads of data centres in India and its own humongous amount of data, data has become a strategic cyber weapon for India, if India uses this cyber weapon for its own benefit than I think I see India a winner in the cyberspace war of dominance via Data. Indian Government needs to have a massive budget for Data Protection related awareness as innocents could be punished for violation of PDPA due to lack of knowledge.
- Where do you want to see our nation’s cybersecurity & its policy in 5 to 10 years from today?
Ans: India has a promising outlook when it comes to cybersecurity industry. Even though India has a whole has to rise up to Global standards, we have promising cybersecurity technology companies and startups which can make India a cybersecurity superpower in the next 10 years. We have the best minds, scale and also domestic requirements. India needs to update its National Cybersecurity policy and should also have National cybersecurity strategy. I feel that our national cybersecurity policy should also have thrust on vernacular languages based on cybersecurity awareness in the country. India needs to have its own cyber command to protect itself against cyber attacks in the cyberspace if wants to instil faith and confidence in the industry. We need concerted attempts from state governments, central governments, NGOs and leaders in the space to bring in cybersecurity revolution within our culture. Once Indian culture is hardened with cybersecurity precautions I think it would be much cyber safer than any other country in the world.
- What would be your tips to our readers regarding keeping themselves safe from cybercrime?
Ans: Now that Mobile phone has become a weapon as well as the armour to commit as well as protect from new age cyber crimes, we need to take our mobile phone seriously and Download applications from trusted sources only. Users should Use Strong Passwords. Use different user ID/password combinations for different accounts and avoid writing them down or storing atone location. Secure your computer with firewalls, antivirus and update your OS & antivirus with latest patches. Make sure your social networking profiles (e.g. Facebook, Twitter, Youtube, MSN, etc.) are set to private. Check your security & privacy settings. Be careful what information you post like Aadhaar number, PAN Number or Mobile Numbers online. Once it is on the Internet, it is there forever and opens for sharing. Wi-Fi networks at home are vulnerable to intrusion if they are not properly secured. Review and modify default settings. Public Wi-Fi, a.k.a. “Hot Spots” should be strictly avoided especially avoid conducting financial or corporate transactions on these networks. Always think before you click on a link or file of unknown origin received via SMS, Whatsapp or via email. Check the source of the message. When in doubt, verify the source. Never reply to emails that ask you to verify your information or confirm your user ID or password. Always share good cybercrime prevention tips with others to create societal cyber resilience.
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_By Prashant Mali_
Interviewer : Mr. Abhishek Sinha