The United States is urging India to tighten its laws regarding cyber security. U.S. Undersecretary of Commerce Kenneth Juster says improving cyber security will help increase trade and technology ties between the United States and India.
Experts say data protection is a critical issue at a time when New Delhi and Washington are exploring ways to step-up high technology collaboration, ranging from civilian nuclear energy to space.
Cyber security is also important, analysts say, as more American companies rely on Indian information technology firms to handle technical and software work.
Mr. Juster suggested at a seminar in New Delhi recently that India should adhere to a European convention to develop standards for cyber security.
"In an age when entire industries rely on information technology, we are now vulnerable to cyber attacks, while [it can] not, of course, be considered a weapon of mass destruction, it can be thought of as a weapon of mass disruption," he said.
The conference was hosted by American and Indian technology industries, India's National Association of Software and Service Companies and the Information Technology Association of America, amid growing calls for global security standards to protect information, ranging from military secrets to personal records.
The president of the Information Technology Association of America, Harris Miller, says these protections are vital in an age when work is outsourced to foreign locations.
"Imagine the following headline: 'IT [Information Technology] worker in Manila releases Vice President Dick Cheney's health records.' When data are being passed around the world, the fear of the possibility of public disclosure of sensitive information is incredibly high," warned Mr. Miller.
India's IT industry says it has developed both technology and practices to ensure cyber security, as it handles more and more work for hundreds of Western companies. But experts say India's current laws governing electronic commerce, copyright protection and patents are not stringent enough to prevent cyber crime.