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Here are the topics covered for 25th December 2023:
GS-2: Hybrid Hearings,The Post Office Bill, 2023,UNODC’s Global Study on Homicide Report 2023
GS-3: Ransomware Attacks
Facts for Prelims: Kudumbashree Mission, Nematocyst
- Delhi High Court has highlighted that the district court lacks the necessary infrastructure to conduct proceedings via video conference.
What is Hybrid Hearings?
- A hybrid court hearing is characterized by at least one participant physically present in the courtroom, utilizing the technical infrastructure of the room.
- Simultaneously, other participants join remotely through a videoconferencing platform or phone, employing audio, video, or a combination of both for their virtual presence.
- The Hybrid Hearings Improvement Initiative (HHII) is a one-year pilot project that will allow state and local courts to learn from and improve upon pandemic-era practices to create permanent changes to their hearing practices.
- Financial support will be extended to facilitate the implementation of a comprehensive set of technical and operational measures, enabling the National Center for State Courts (NCSC) to assess the effectiveness of different systems.
- This funding may cover expenses related to technology equipment, installation in a minimum of one courtroom within the jurisdiction, integration with pre-existing systems as applicable, technical assistance for the initial operation of the equipment, and the formulation of hybrid hearing protocols.
- In cases where courts already have functional hybrid hearing systems, the NCSC will collaborate to enhance the existing platform and pinpoint additional requirements aligned with the pilot\’s objectives.
The Post Office Bill, 2023
Context: Regulating India Post, a central government department, and introducing key provisions related to interception, liability, and the oversight of postal services.
Background: The Post Office Bill, of 2023, seeks to replace the longstanding Indian Post Office Act, of 1898, after 125 years in existence.
- The bill grants the authority to empower post officers to \”intercept, open, or detain any item\” in the interest of state security, friendly relations with foreign states, public order, emergency, public safety, or contravention of other laws.
- Post officers can hand over postal items to customs authorities if suspected of containing prohibited items or liable to duty.
- The bill exempts the Post Office and its officers from liability for loss, miss-delivery, delay, or damage in the course of providing services, except as prescribed.
- Offences and penalties under the 1898 Act, such as misconduct, fraud, and theft by post office officials, are eliminated. Charges for services are treated as recoverable arrears of land revenue.
- The bill removes the exclusive privilege of the Centre to convey all letters by post, adapting to the evolving landscape where courier services operate under different terminology.
- For the first time, private courier services are brought under the regulatory purview of the bill.
- Lack of Procedural Safeguards: Critics argue that the bill lacks clear procedural safeguards for the interception of articles transmitted through India Post, potentially violating freedom of speech, expression, and the right to privacy.
- Vague Grounds for Interception: The grounds for interception, including \’emergency,\’ are criticized for lacking clarity and may go beyond reasonable restrictions under the Constitution.
- Liability Exemption Concerns: Exempting India Post from liability raises concerns about potential conflicts of interest, as the central government, which administers India Post, may prescribe liabilities through rules.
- Absence of Penalties: The bill does not specify offences and penalties, raising concerns about the unauthorized opening of postal articles by postal officers and its implications on the right to privacy.
- Incorporate Robust Safeguards: Introduce comprehensive procedural safeguards, including oversight mechanisms, judicial warrants, and adherence to constitutional principles to protect individual rights.
- Balanced Liability Framework: Establish clear rules for liability to ensure accountability without compromising the independence and efficiency of the Post Office.
- Address Unauthorized Opening: Reintroduce specific offences and penalties, creating a legal framework to hold individuals accountable for unauthorized actions, and safeguarding the right to privacy of consumers.
UNODC’s Global Study on Homicide Report 2023
- The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) released its Global Study on Homicide Report 2023, highlighting alarming trends and the pervasive impact of homicides on a global scale.
Key Findings of the Global Study:
- Homicide Trends: Between 2019 and 2021, an annual average of 440,000 homicides occurred globally, with a significant spike in 2021, witnessing 458,000 homicides. Economic repercussions of the COVID-19 pandemic and a surge in organized crime and socio-political violence contributed to this increase.
- Factors Contributing to Homicide: Organized crime accounted for 22% of global homicides, particularly impacting the Americas. Factors such as climate change, demographic shifts, inequality, urbanization, and technological changes were identified as influencing homicide rates differently across regions.
- Regional Variances: The Americas had the highest regional homicide rate per capita, while Africa recorded the highest absolute number of homicides. Asia, Europe, and Oceania had homicide rates below the global per capita average in 2021.
- Victims: Men constituted 81% of homicide victims and 90% of suspects, while women were more likely to be killed by family members or intimate partners. Approximately 15% of homicide victims in 2021 were children.
- Targeted Killings: Deliberate killings of human rights defenders, journalists, and aid workers accounted for 9% of global homicides. Humanitarian aid workers faced an increased threat level during 2017-2022.
- Projections and Vulnerability: The global homicide rate is projected to decrease to 4.7 in 2030, falling short of Sustainable Development Goals targets. Africa is identified as the most vulnerable region due to its younger population, persistent inequality, and climate-related challenges.
Key Highlights Related to India:
- Motives Behind Murders: Property, land, or water-related disputes were linked to nearly 16.8% of murder cases recorded in India between 2019 and 2021. Specifically, 0.5% of recorded murders were attributed to water-related conflicts, emphasizing the emergence of water-related issues as a significant driver of homicides.
- Factors Amplifying Water-Related Conflicts: Population growth, economic expansion, and climate change were identified as exacerbating tensions over water access, contributing to increased violence related to disputes over water resources.
- Introduce comprehensive procedural safeguards, including oversight mechanisms, judicial warrants, and adherence to constitutional principles to protect individual rights.
- Clearly define interception grounds, especially \’emergency,\’ aligning them with reasonable restrictions under the Constitution to prevent potential misuse.
- Establish clear rules for liability to ensure accountability without compromising the independence and efficiency of the Post Office.
- Reintroduce specific offences and penalties, creating a legal framework to hold individuals accountable for unauthorized actions, safeguarding the right to privacy of consumers.
- On December 20, HCL Technologies disclosed a ransomware incident in a limited cloud environment. The company asserted no \”observable\” impact on its overall network, but the news led to a decline in share prices.
What is a Ransomware Attack?
- Ransomware is a type of malware from cryptovirology that threatens to publish the victim\’s personal data or permanently block access to it unless a ransom is paid off.
- Ransomware attacks can have a devastating impact on businesses, as they can lead to data loss, productivity losses, and reputational damage.
Matter of Concern
- Indian organisations face a rising threat from ransomware attacks, with a 73% victim rate in 2023 compared to 57% the previous year, according to a Sophos cybersecurity study.
- Of these, 77% reported successful data encryption, and 44% opted to pay the ransom, a notable drop from the previous year\’s 78%.
- Despite the payment, companies doubled recovery costs compared to those relying on backups.
- CERT-In reported a 51% increase in ransomware incidents in H1 2022, with data centres, IT, and TeS sectors as primary targets.
Why Targert it Firms?
- Threat actors tend to focus their attacks on organizations that hold valuable data.
- The more valuable the data is to the organisation and its stakeholders, the higher the chances that the ransom will be paid.
- IT organizations and software vendors hold a lot of valuable data, including
- sensitive information like intellectual property.
- If leaked by threat actors, it could lead to a drop in their value and replication of software, devaluing the company and threatening its revenue streams, making them a valuable target for cybercriminals.
- IT organizations providing cloud security and data solutions also hold large repositories of data for their clients.
- Successful attacks on them could potentially open the channel to target supply chains, adding pressure on companies to pay the ransom.
- Data held by IT organizations could include personally identifiable data of clients’ users, intellectual property, access credentials, and even financial information.
- This data can be leveraged to launch further attacks.
- IT organisations are also among the first to adopt new technologies and encourage the use of open architecture, which may not have the highest levels of protection against cyberattacks, making them a target for cybercriminals.
Facts for Prelims
- Kudumbashree is the poverty eradication and women empowerment programme implemented by the State Poverty Eradication Mission (SPEM) of the Government of Kerala.
- The name Kudumbashree in the Malayalam language means ‘prosperity of the family’.
- The name represents ‘Kudumbashree Mission’ or SPEM as well as the Kudumbashree Community Network.
- What is commonly referred to as ‘Kudumbashree’ could mean either the Kudumbashree Community Network, or the Kudumbashree Mission, or both.
- Kudumbashree was set up in 1997 following the recommendations of a three-member Task Force appointed by the State government.
- Its formation was in the context of the devolution of powers to the Panchayat Raj Institutions (PRIs) in Kerala, and the Peoples’ Plan Campaign, which attempted to draw up the Ninth Plan of the local governments from below through the PRIs.
- Nematocyst Structure:
- Capsule with a coiled, threadlike tubule.
- Bulbous structure containing toxins.
- Function in Self-Defense:
- Prominent in jellyfish, corals, sea anemones, and hydras.
- Potent weapons for hunting prey and repelling predators.
- Rapid ejection of the tubule, faster than a bullet.
- Role in Feeding and Defense of Cnidarians:
- Found in cnidocytes, cells within the group of animals called cnidarians.
- Triggered by specialized sensory structures upon contact with prey.
- An unfurled tubule pierces prey\’s outer layer or injects toxins.
- Toxic Effects:
- Paralytic toxins immobilize prey.
- Cytolytic toxins break down cells.
- Combination of toxins for strategic predatory or defensive efforts.
- Adaptation for Survival:
- The complexity of nematocysts contributes to the success of cnidarians.
- Formidable creatures in diverse aquatic environments.
- Significance in Evolution:
- Illustrates evolution\’s peculiar mechanisms for self-defence.
- Highlights the effectiveness of specialized adaptations in the natural world.