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PR Syndicate honours ‘Cyber Law Guru of India’, Na.Vijayashankar
PR Syndicate, (a professional organization of PR Professionals in Chennai,) celebrated its First Anniversary on 20th January 2007 at Russian Cultural Centre. The Chief Guest Rev.Fr.Jegath Gaspar Raj, Founder of Tamil Maiyam, Dr.Nirmala Prasad, Principal, M.O.P Vaishnav College for Women and Dr.Tamizhisai Soundararajan, General Secretary, B.J.P. addressed.
On the occassion, “Award of Excellence in Public Life” was presented to ‘Cyber Law Guru of India’ Na.Vijayashankar, A.Irudhayam, Deputy Secretary, ICAI, T.Anand, Tamil Poet, N.B.Sukkur Basha, Editor, Tozhil Nesan and S.V.Ramaswamy, President, Stenographers’ Guild. N.C.Siddharth, M.V.Mahesh, P.E.Wilfred and S.Bhuvana of the PR Syndicate spoke on latest trends in PR and Corporate Communication. N.Thanigaimani, General Manager, Dr.Mohan’s Diabetes Specialities Centre, delivered vote of thanks.
ANNIVERSARY DAY CELEBRATION
20th JANUARY 2007
RUSSIAN CULTURAL CENTRE HALL AT 6 PM
Welcome Address given by M.V.Mahesh, Dy General Secretary
I am delighted to be with PR Syndicate giving support to its characteristic and excellent social initiatives. PR Syndicate anniversary is an appropriate occasion for me to talk about the relevance and authority of public relations in this outsourcing age. I recall the vision of Ed Bernays, the founding father of the PR industry, who wrote a path-breaking book Crystallizing Public Opinion in 1923.Due to emergence of IT and ITES sectors, the rules of the corporate game have changed. Let me begin with some background. When I say public relations, I wonder how things change nowadays with accelerating speed. In today’s technology environment, every company needs to know where it fits in a market. PR helps an organization in creating an identity in the industry, media and community. There are two components that comprise public relations: one is behavior, the other is communications. Key for success with an emerging technology business is close customer relationships. According to a study by Michigan Ross School of Business 62% of all new successful product innovations come from customer needs and suggestions. Competitive market analysis helps to improve business by revealing how you are better than the other alternatives. The primary mission for any PR person is to practice and be prepared for audience reaction – no matter if it is good or bad. An effective PR campaign is executed based on most successful presentations. It is mainly our media colleagues who portray the PR professionals as the most vital participant of any corporate venture. The major role of PR professional is communications. We all know that communications moves in two directions audience-wise – external and internal. In the past, the emphasis has been on the external, but today, CEOs have come to realize that their most important audience is really their own employees! This, I believe, leaves us with the challenge of developing people who can deliver on the full promise of public relations. Above all, in our hitech corporate world, vision of the CEO is identified as extremely important in increasing shareholders value. In fact, if we look at today’s CEOs and compare them with their counterparts of the 1950s and 60s, we can see a huge difference. Today they write books, grant spontaneous interviews, and actively promote their personal philosophies. Real leaders, like Intel’s Andy Grove, are great because they demonstrate integrity, provide meaning, generate trust and communicate values. Yes, finally it’s about trust and values! And that is why I am extremely optimistic about the future of Indian industries
I welcome Rev.Fr.Jegath Gaspar Raj, the Managing Director of Goodwill Communications Limited and founder of Tamil Maiyam
I welcome Prof Dr.Nirmala Prasad, the Principal of M.O.P Vaishnav College For Women who is the most inspiring professional and a true motivator for the youth. If anyone fails to recognise the excellent leadership qualities and professional standards of Dr.Nirmala Prasad, he/she will be unfit for any social initiatives particularly in Chennai
I welcome Dr.Tamizhisai Soundararajan, Renowned Physician & Social Activist who is the General Secretary of BJP
I welcome the awardees “Cyber Law Guru of India” Na.Vijayashankar (Naavi), Mr A.Irudhayam, “Kavignar” T.Anand, “Seva Rathna” Mr S.V.Ramaswamy and Mr N.B.Sukkur Basha
I personally welcome the media people, our friends and well-wishers
Thank you ladies and gentlemen for your attention!
Dy Gen Secretary
Naavi has been always vocal in pointing out flaws in the drafting of any law or regulation and has several times raised his voice against some of the decisions of the Government.
One occasion was when there was an attempt to sneak in ISO 27001 certification as a “Deemed Compliance” of Section 43A of ITA 2000 when after a series of RTI applications he was able to get a partial retraction through an admission from the Ministry that the intention of the notification was not to promote ISO 27001.
During the time ITA 2000 was under revision in 2005-2008, Naavi published many suggestions on what needs to be done and followed up with criticisms when required.
Of late when the Data Protection Law has been in drafting mode, Naavi has significantly contributed to the fine tuning of the law and continues to educate all stake holders though in the process he might have ruffled many feathers.
Another prolonged battle that Naavi has undertaken is on opposing the attempted recognition of Crypto Currencies like Bit Coin. The fight which was launched several years back finally resulted in the Government taking appropriate steps to out law private Crypto Currencies and introduce an official digital currency such as the CBDC. The tokenised version of CBDC-retail is a derivative of the Digital Value Imprinted Instrument System (DVIIS) which Naavi had proposed in around 2008 for which the provisional patent had also been applied.
In future also Naavi is likely to continue his adequacy in issues such as introducing indigenous framework for data protection audit and other issues.
All these measures have contributed significantly to the field of Cyber Law and Data Protection law in India. His innovative thoughts on Pseudonymization gateway, Self evaluation of Data Trust Score online make compliance easier and affordable to SMEs and MSMEs.
The website www.naavi.org itself is often called the Wikipedia of Cyber Laws in India and is a reference book for students.
In the coming days we can also expect advocacy for Neuro Rights legislation in India.
During his time, Naavi has promoted several organizations to carry on his mission one of which is the Cyber Society of India, (CySi) Chennai of which he was the founder secretary. He was also the founder trustee of IIIT Law in Bangalore, Founder Chairman of Digital Society of India, Bangalore and Chairman of the Foundation of Data Protection Professionals in India, Bangalore (FDPPI). He is now in the process of a major initiative of setting up a “Federation of Data Protection Consultants” in India which could be the source of all future Data Auditors who may come up in India under the Data Protection Act.
Naavi promoted the idea of celebrating October 17 as the “Digital Society Day” of India in commemoration of the day on which ITA 2000 was notified in the year 2000.
In 2015, Naavi had released a Vision document in which several innovative thoughts like the “Regulated Anonymity”, “Privacy Protection Zones”, “Social Media Addiction” etc had been discussed which still carry relevance today. More recently, the “Shape of Things to Come” collated some of the thoughts of Naavi on Data Protection laws which need attention even after the new Data Protection law becomes effective.
As regards ITA 2000, the website ita2008.in presents the developments in the Indian Cyber Laws since around 1998 and is a reference page for students of Cyber Law.
Additionally, the network of websites including www.ceac.in, www.privacy.ind.in, www.odrglobal.in, lookalikes.in, represent the different dimensions of Naavi which evolved over time.
The legacy of Naavi will therefore live through the various organizations that he has set up and in concepts such as the Digital Society Day.
What distinguishes Naavi from others is the persistence against all odds and a self less pursuit of his objectives without any commercial undertones.
The value of a publication like Naavi.org and the free videos put in public space through YouTube are of treasure houses of knowledge which students of Cyber Law and Data Protection will cherish for many more years to come.
Teaching has been a passion for Naavi and he is the pioneer in virtual teaching having started Cyber Law College in 2000 with distance learning and virtual mode combined. Subsequently he has conducted several programs as virtual programs .
Others took on this method only due to the compulsions of Covid. Naavi continues to use virtual mode of training for companies, and others successfully. He has completed hundreds of hours of professional training in Data Protection in the last few years.
Naavi is also a visiting faculty in premier Law Colleges of the country and has even conducted semester courses in Engineering Colleges on Cyber Law.
Through these measures he has contributed immensely to the spread of knowledge in the academic institutions.
Yet another area where Naavi has contributed through consistent efforts is on the use of “Online Dispute Resolutions” (ODR) for resolving disputes through Alternative Dispute Resolution.
Way back in 2005, Naavi started advocating ODR and piloted a proof of concept which was unique because apart from the virtual conferencing tool the service integrated a back office service and the CEAC service to provide a Section 65B evidenced conference. It was also presented to the Supreme Court committee for adoption through a leading IT company.
At the time Naavi advocated the service, the Courts were very reluctant to allow live coverage of its proceedings and much less a recording of the proceedings. Today it has become common and are even getting mandated in the procedural laws under ITA 2000. Naavi was however a pioneer in recommending this method of ADR.
Naavi is even now pursuing setting up of a ODR service for Data Dispute resolutions through FDPPI.
After the Suhas Katti case in which Naavi contributed significantly with the Section 65B certified evidence another notable contribution to the Cyber Jurisprudence from Naavi was the case of S Umashankar Vs ICICI Bank which was the first case of adjudication in which a Bank was held liable for Phishing.
This adjudication happened in Chennai where the adjudicator ordered payment of the entire amount lost by the client along with interest and damages. The amount lost by the victim was about Rs 646000/- . Naavi represented the victim through a Power of attorney and fought the case since 2008 till 2022 through the Adjudicator, Cyber Appellate Tribunal, TDSAT and finally the Madras High Court. In the Adjudication and the Cyber Appellate Tribunal as well as the TDSAT, Naavi argued on behalf of the victim and brought to discussion many aspects of law such as the “Non Use of Digital Signatures”, ” Non Use of Adaptive authentication”, “Lack of KYC at the destination Bank”, “Failure to pursue the Police Complaint”, “Appropriation of proceeds for over draft”, ” Erasure of CCTV footage”, “Proximate cause of fraud”, “Liability in case of multiple negligence” etc and contended that there was gross negligence amounting to abetment and passive assistance to crime.
The Adjudicator and the TDSAT gave speaking orders highlighting the negligence of ICICI Bank and ordered payment of compensation to the victim. The Cyber Appellate Tribunal where trial was held for 3 years did not give its judgement and was merged with TDSAT.
The Bank filed an appeal in Madras High Court where Naavi assisted the Court along with an advocate and the appeal was dismissed. Though the technical possibility of a further appeal does exist, the 14 year fight was a personal mission for Naavi to prove that Phishing liability must be boarne by the Bank.
During these years, Naavi raised objections on an attempt made by the Bank to get a favourable RBI decision from one of the committees namely Gopalakrishna committee and ensured that intended recommendations of the committee which would have created difficulties for the victims of Bank frauds were dropped. Finally when RBI came up with a “Zero Liability scheme” it was a vindication of the long efforts of Naavi to make digital banking safer.
Both Suhas Katti case and Umashankar cases are cases which are topics on which examination questions have been set in premier law colleges in law exams.
The judgement copies are available below:
- Adjudication award from Adjudicator of Tamil Nadu
- TDSAT Judgement of January 2019 and Reviewed Judgement from TDSAT of March 2019
- AO’s order following TDSAT Review
- Madras High Court order on Naavi as PIP
- Judgment of Madras High Court.
From the very beginning, Naavi was interested in developing a “Compliance Culture in India” and in December 2000, for the first time in India, in a CII conference in Hotel Connemara, Naavi declared that “CyLawCom is the corporate mantra for the Digital era” which also became the title of one of the later books of Naavi.
Naavi then expanded his Cyber Law Course with course on Techno Legal Information Security and a certification of CyLawCom professionals. This was a precursor to the modern day “Certification Courses” in Information Security and Data Protection and Naavi was again a pioneer in introducing such courses.
Apart from the Cyber Law Awareness building through the website, series of lectures at all levels from High School students to professionals, evangelizing the Compliance culture, Naavi took up training of Chennai Police and conducted a series of courses in the Ashok Nagar Police Training College. Trainings on Cyber Ethics at Standard Chartered banks and many colleges in Chennai and Courses on Cyber crimes in many organizations including CBI in Delhi etc followed.
During these early days of Cyber Law in India, Naavi was also active on fighting against obscenity on the Internet. In one of the cases in the Mumbai High Court, an article of Naavi.com was published as a material for reference in a case related to Cyber Cafes. He carried out many campaigns as a Netizen activist advocating strict compliance of law by intermediaries so that the Netizens are protected from frauds.
In 2005, Naavi had undertaken the “Cyber Laws Awareness Movement” in Karnataka, conducting a series of courses in several Law Colleges in Karnataka running to 60-70 hours of teaching. First Cyber Law Course was also also conducted in the Chennai in Dr Ambedkar Law College and later in Madras University.
The impact of such intense awareness building was noticeable with some of the students of those days having become experts in Cyber law today. One of the attendees of the Police Training in Chennai was Mr S Balu who went on to head the Chennai Cyber Crime police station with credit.
Naturally Naavi was frequently sought after for advise whenever there was a cyber crime reported to the Cyber Crime police. It was one such case which led to the first case in India to be convicted under ITA 2000, (2004) namely the case of Suhas Katti. (Copy of the judgement in case of Suhaskatti available here. Part 1: Part2).
This case was unique because it was the first case where a Section 65B certificate was accepted as evidence and it was produced by Naavi. It was only in 2012 later that the Supreme Court in the case of P K Basheer and P V Anvar, that the Judiciary recognized the requirements of Section 65B (IEA) certification.
Naavi was all along spreading the need for such certificate in every forum including the National Police Academy in Hyderabad though the intervening Afasan Guru judgement had created a doubt about the mandatory nature of Section 65B certification. Despite the contradictory judgement of the Supreme Court in the Afsam Guru case Naavi was committed to his views on Section 65B and always reiterated the mandatory nature and the nature of certification which even today stands as the gold standard though many legal luminaries are yet to fully accept Naavi’s interpretation of Section 65B.
This commitment on Section 65B certification and its advocacy through Cyber Evidence Archival Center (CEAC) is one of the hallmarks of the Naavi’s foray into Cyber Laws.
In 1996, the UNCITRAL had passed a UN resolution with a model law for E Commerce to facilitate global trade through EDI over computer networks. Following this, the Government of India had formed a committee of experts which included Mr Narayan Murthy of Infosys which recommended that India required Cyber Laws. Accordingly, in 1998, Government released a draft of E Commerce Act 1998. Those were the days of the dynamic late Mr Dewang Mehta as Chairman of NASSCOM and India became one of the first countries in the world to draft a law under the Ministry of Commerce headed by Mr Ramakrishna Hegde. While it was being debated in the public, Naavi had already taken several steps ahead. He had created his website www.naavi.com(Now available on the domain www.naavi.org) with a tag line, Let Us build a Responsible Cyber Society where the copy of the Act was available, called for public comments to be submitted to the Government through Naavi.com (now this domain is not in the control of Naavi).
He had also negotiated a business deal for bringing the Digital Signature deal from “Global Sign” in collaboration with a Chennai based company. Naavi was also one of the first three Thawte notaries for Digital Signature Certificates.
When the Government was getting ready to pass the Bill, Naavi was busy writing the first book on Cyber Laws in India namely “Cyber Laws for Every Netizen in India”. Today, Mr Modi calls the Netizen as “Digital Nagrik” which is a translation of the word used by Naavi in the title of his book. It was interesting that the book was released in the Press Information Bureau at Chennai on the same day (9th December 1999) when Information Technology Bill was introduced in the Parliament by late Mr Pramod Mahajan.
With this Naavi established himself in the field of Cyber Laws and also the name “Naavi” as a service mark.
The efforts to collect public views and present it to the Government happened with the website which hosted the copy of the Bill along with the earlier E Commerce Act 1998. A press conference was also held in Hotel Palmgrove to present the views of Naavi.com which was submitted to the Government.
In mid 2000, Naavi had already planned his educational venture “Cyber Law College” and as soon as the Bill was passed, the educational initiative was commenced as the first virtual educational initiative in India.
On the occasion of Cyber Society of India (CySi) deciding to confer an honour for life time achievement of Naavi in the filed of Cyber Law, I have been requested to share information about my journey in Cyber Law domain in the last 20 plus years.
Naavi’s journey in the professional life has passed through the following distinct phases.
Indian Overseas Bank where Naavi joined as a Probationary officer on 27th December 1973 and worked till 1987.
A Brief period upto 1989 where Naavi worked in Nagarjua Group and Cholamandalam Finance.
An extended stint with RK Swamy BBDO from 1989 to 2000
Starting as a Cyber Law educationist and proceeding to be Data Protection Consultant from 2000 till date taking up the responsibility as Chairman of Foundation of Data Protection Professionals in India since 2018
In the future Naavi could work in the extended space of Neuro Rights and also trying to create a Federation of Data Protection Professionals.
The focus of this narrative is the development of the Cyber Law Career and only to the extent necessary, a brief mention about other aspects of my career would be referred to.
Prior to joining the professional career, Naavi completed M.Sc., degree in Physics from Manasa Gangotri, the University of Mysore in 1973. The specialization in Physics was Nuclear Physics and several aspects of Physics including Transistors, Electronics and Quantum Physics etc have come back into Naavi’s life as a Cyber Law specialist several years later.
Soon after the completion of the M.Sc., degree, fate drew Naavi to join Indian Overseas Bank (IOB) as a probationary officer in the same year. At this stage, Naavi had no exposure to law and it was during the Probationary Officer’s training followed by a two year study of CAIIB, that Naavi developed the knowledge of Law and took special fancy to Negotiable Instruments Act 1881.
Soon after a stint as a Branch Manager, Naavi developed a keen interest in Behavioural Science and opted to be a Faculty member to pursue this interest. While being a Faculty Member in Charge of a Training Center in Coimbatore, Naavi developed a high level of expertise in every aspect of Banking including Banking Law, Accounting. Often trainees believed that I was a lawyer and a Chartered Accountant.
During these days while pursuing the Post Graduate Diploma in Management from AIMA DM, Naavi picked up an interest in use of Computers in Business and completed a project work on Management Information Systems in NTC, taking the thread from the Physics education he had earlier. He also developed interest in Marketing which also had an impact on his later career.
After an eventful stint in the Faculty, Naavi moved on to Merchant Banking before deciding to pursue his career in the private sector. He left IOB and joined Nagarjua Group and later landed up in RK Swamy BBDO as head of Marketing of Financial Products and Financial Services.
At that time, Naavi was a columnist in Indian Express on Investment and his weekly column on “Where to Invest” was a popular column for more than 5 years.
It was during these days that Internet made its debut and Naavi took to learning about Internet as a tool of Advertising and Promotion. Naavi also attended some Computer Courses and gained some working knowledge of Computers and Web Site creation.
Using his simple computer knowledge that he had picked up in IOB, he helped creation of many applications on the website. The first online RD calculator and first online Hire Purchase Calculator in India was created under Naavi’s supervision for some of the clients of RK Swamy BBDO.
This introduction to the Internet world also saw Naavi filing three innovative patent applications namely business method patent for “Verify for Lookalikes”, “AdView Certification” and “Digital Value Imprinted Instrument System (DVIIS)”. The first two patents were processed successfully as PCT applications but could not be commercially exploited. The third patent namely DVIIS ( and its operational version ZeMO Cards) is a precursor to the modern day virtual pre-paid cards. The Verify for lookalikes was related to resolution of Domain Name disputes and Ad View Certification was an innovative solution to Web Ads.
By around 1998 when the Indian Cyber Laws took birth, Naavi was already exhibiting his love for the Internet technology.
After 1998, the journey shifted to the Cyber Law Domain… and the story continues in the next article.