CIO: Several analysts say the IT Act and its amendments are unconstitutional.
Milind Deora: The section 66A was included in the IT Act for multiple purposes. Other than a few cases in media scrutiny, there has been no complaint about the misuse of section 66A. In those cases also, particularly in Maharashtra and West Bengal, appropriate action has been taken. Besides, the Department of Electronics and IT has issued an advisory to all states to obtain permission from the Inspector General of Police or Superintendent of Police depending upon each case. Such an advisory has also been endorsed by the Supreme Court for strict compliance by the state. As per the report available, all the states are implementing the advisories. Hence, no action of misuse of section 66A has come to our notice in the last couple of months.
CIO: How's the govt. addressing new initiatives in the IT and communications sectors?
Milind Deora: The government is focused on making use of new trends and technologies. For instance, as a part of our mobility initiative, we have introduced the Mobile Service Delivery Gateway which is a standards-based middleware infrastructure and aims at providing secure messaging between various departmental applications.
The National Gateway has been successfully implemented by CDAC and is live in production since August 2008. To harness the benefits of cloud computing, DeitY has initiated a project known as 'MeghRaj' to create a common repository of cloud-based infrastructure resources and applications available on demand.
The G-cloud is envisaged to enable optimal utilization of ICT infrastructure, allow speedy development and deployment of e-gov applications, and allow quick replication of successful applications such as hosting certified applications like e-Gov App Store. The first phase of implementing National Cloud has been approved at a cost of Rs 99 crore and will be launched in 2013. We have also launched an e-Gov App Store with 20 applications in May, 2013.
CIO: Akash and UIDAI have drawn flak from several quarters.
Milind Deora: A committee headed by IIT Mumbai has submitted a study to look into the matter. The study report is currently under examination with MHRD. We have a well-defined strategy aligned to new initiatives. The primary objective of the National Telecom Policy 2012 is to maximize public good by making available affordable, reliable, and secure telecommunication and broadband services across India. The main thrust of the policy is to have a multiplier effect and transformational impact of ICTE services on the overall economy. It recognizes the role of such services in furthering the national development agenda while enhancing equity and inclusiveness.
Broadband is one of the main thrust areas of this policy. It sets the target of 600 million broadband connections by 2020. It lays special emphasis on providing reliable and affordable broadband access to rural and remote areas. To ensure broadband coverage to Panchayats, the government has approved a scheme for the creation of a National Optical Fiber Network (NOFN) for providing broadband connectivity to all 2,50,000 village panchayats. The aim is to extend the existing optical fiber network which is available to Gram Panchayat level by utilizing the Universal Service Obligation Fund. The cost of the initial phase of the NOFN scheme is estimated to be about Rs 20,000 crore.
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