Centre for Internet & Society

The Centre for Internet and Society submitted comments on the Information Technology (Security of Prepaid Payment Instruments) Rules, 2017. The comments were prepared by Udbhav Tiwari, Pranesh Prakash, Abhay Rana, Amber Sinha and Sunil Abraham.

1. Preliminary

1.1. This submission presents comments by the Centre for Internet and Society[1] in response to the Information Technology (Security of Prepaid Payment Instruments) Rules 2017 (“the Rules”).[2] The Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MEIT) issued a consultation paper (pdf) which calls for developing a framework for security of digital wallets operating in the country on March 08, 2017. This proposed rules have been drafted under provisions of Information Technology Act, 2000, and comments have been invited from the general public and stakeholders before the enactment of these rules.

2. The Centre for Internet and Society

2.1. The Centre for Internet and Society, (“CIS”), is a non-profit organisation that undertakes interdisciplinary research on internet and digital technologies from policy and academic perspectives. The areas of focus include digital accessibility for persons with diverse abilities, access to knowledge, intellectual property rights, openness (including open data, free and open source software, open standards, and open access), internet governance, telecommunication reform, digital privacy, and cyber-security.

2.2. This submission is consistent with CIS’ commitment to safeguarding general public interest, and the interests and rights of various stakeholders involved, especially the privacy and data security of citizens. CIS is thankful to the MEIT for this opportunity to provide feedback to the draft rules.


3.1  General Comments


There is no penalty for not complying with these rules.  Even the Information Technology (Reasonable Security Practices and Procedures and Sensitive Personal Data or Information) Rules, 2011 doesn’t have penalties.  Under section 43A of the Information Technology Act (under which the 2011 Rules have been promulgated), a wrongful gain or a wrongful loss needs to be demonstrated.  This should not be a requirement for financial sector.

Expansion to Contractual Parties.

A majority of these rules, in order to be effective and realistically protect consumer interest, should also be expanded to third parties, agents, contractual relationships and any other relevant relationship an e-PPI issuer may delegate as a part of their functioning.

3.2  Rule 2: Definitions

Certain key words relevant to the field of e-PPI based digital payments such as authorisation, metadata, etc. are not defined in the rules and should both be defined and accounted for in the rules to ensure modern developments such as big data and machine learning, digital surveillance, etc. do not violate human rights and consumer interest.

3.2  Rule 7: Definition of personal information

Rule 7 provides an exhaustive list of data that will be deemed to be personal information for the purposes of the Rules. While information collected at the time of issuance of the pre-paid payment instrument and during its use is included within the scope of Rule 7, it makes no reference to metadata generated and collected by the e-PPI issuer.

3.3 Rule 4: Inadequate privacy protections

Rule 4(2) specifies the details that the privacy policies of each e-PPI issuer must contain. However, these specifications are highly inadequate and fall well below the recommendations under the National Privacy Principles in Report of the Group of Experts on Privacy chaired by Justice A P Shah.

Suggestions: The Rules should include include clearly specified rights to access, correction and opt in/opt out, continuing obligations to seek consent in case of change in policy or purpose and deletion of data after purpose is achieved. Additionally, it must be required that a log of each version of past privacy policies be maintained along with the relevant period of applicability.

3.4 Rule 10: Reasonable security practices

Problem: Financial information (“such as bank account or credit card or debit card or other payment instrument details”) is already invoked in an inclusive manner in the definition of ‘personal information’ in Rule 7.  Given this there is no need to make the Reasonable Security Practices Rules applicable to financial data through this provisions: it already is, and it is best to avoid unnecessary redundancy.

Solution: This entire rule should be removed.

3.5  Rule 12: Traceability

Problem: There is a requirement created under this rule that payment-related interactions with customers or other service providers be “appropriately trace[able]”.  But it is unclear what that would practically mean: would IP logging suffice? would IMEI need to be captured for mobile transactions? what is “appropriately” traceable? — none of those questions are answered.

Suggestion: The NPCI’s practices and RBI regulations, for instance, seek to limit the amount of information that entities like e-PPI providers have.  These rules need to be brought in line with those practices and regulations.

3.6 Rule 5: Risk Assessment

Rule 5 requires e-PPI issuers to carry out risk assessments associated with the security of the payments systems at least once a year and after any major security incident. However, there are no transparency requirements such as publications of details of such review, a summary of the analysis, any security vulnerabilities discovered etc.


  • Broaden the scope of this provision to include not just risk assessments but also security audits.
  • Mandate publication of risk assessment and security audit reports.


3.7 Rule 11: End-to-End Encryption

The rule concerning end-to-end encryption (E2E) needs significantly greater detailing to be effective in ensuring the the protection of information at both storage and transit.

Suggestions: Elements such as Secure Element or a Secured Server and Trusted User Interface, both concepts to enable secure payments, can be detailed in the rule and a timeline can be established to require hardware, e-PPI practices and security standards to realistically account for such best practices to ensure modern, secure and industry accepted implementation of the rule.

3.8 Rule 13: Retention of Information

Problem: Rule 13 leaves the question of retention entirely unanswered by deferring the future rulemaking to the Central Government.

Suggestions: Rule 13 should be expanded to include the various categories of information that can be stored, guidelines for the short-term (fast access) and long-term storage of the information retained under the rule and other relevant details. The rule should also include the security standards that should be followed in the storage of such information, require access logs be maintained for whenever this information is accessed by individuals, detail secure destruction practices at the end of the retention period  and finally mandate that end users be notified by the e-PPI issuer of when such retained information is accessed in all situations bar exceptional circumstances such as national security, compromising an ongoing criminal investigations, etc.

3.9 Rule 14: Reporting of Cyber Incidents

Rule 14 is an excellent opportunity to uphold transparency, accountability and consumer rights by mandating time- and information-bound notification of cyber incidents to customers, including intrusions, database breaches and any other compromise of the integrity of the financial system. While the requirement of reporting such incidents to CERT-In is already present in the Rule 12 of the CERT Rules, the rule retains the optional nature of notifying customers. The rule should include an exhaustive list of categories or kinds of cyber incidents that should be reported to affected end users without compromising the investigation of such breaches by private organisations and public authorities. Further, the rule should also include penalties for non-compliance of this requirement (both to CERT-In and the consumer) to serve as an incentive for e-PPI issuers to uphold consumer public interest. The rule should be expanded to include a detailed mechanism for such reporting, including when e-PPI issuers and the CERT-In can withhold information from consumers as well as requiring the withheld information be disclosed when the investigation has been completed. Finally, the rule should also require that such disclosures be public in nature and consumers not be required to not disseminate such information to enable informed choice by the end user community.


(1) In Rule 14(3) “may” should be substituted by “shall”.

(2) Penalties of up to 5 lakh rupees may be imposed for each day that the e-PPI issuer fails to report any severe vulnerability that could likely result in harm to customers.

3.10 Rule 15: Customer Awareness and Education

Problem: Rule 15 on Customer Awareness and Education by e-PPI issuers does not take into account the vast lingual diversity and varied socio-economic demographic that makes up the end users of e-PPI providers in India, by mandating the actions under the rule must account for these factors prior to be propagated.

Solutions: The rule must ensure that e-PPI issuers track record in carrying out awareness is regularly held accountable by both the government and public disclosures on their websites. Further, the rule can be made more concrete and effective by including mobile operating systems in their scope (along with equipments), mandating awareness for best practices for inclusive technologies like USSD banking, specifying notifications to include SMS reports of financial transactions, etc.

3.11 Rule 16: Grievance Redressal

Problem: Rule 16 lays down the requirement of grievance redressal, without specifying appellate mechanisms (both within the organisation and at the regulatory level), accountability (via penalties) for non-compliance of the rule nor requiring a clear hierarchy of responsibility within the e-PPI organisation. These factors seriously compromise the efficacy of a grievance redressal framework.


Solutions: Similar rules for grievance redressal that have been enacted by the Insurance Regulatory and Development Authority for the insurance sector and the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India for the telecom sector can and should serve as a reference point for this rule. Their effectiveness and real world operation should also be monitored by the relevant authorities while ensuring sufficient flexibility exists in the rule to uphold consumer rights and the public interest. Proper appellate mechanisms at the regulatory level are essential along with penalties for non-compliance.

3.12 Rule 17: Security Standards

Problem: Rule 17 empowers the Central Government to mandate security standards to be followed by e-PPI issuers operating in India. While appreciable in its overall outlook on ensuring a minimum standard of security, the Rule needs be improved upon to make it more effective. This can be in done by specifying certain minimum security standards to ensure all e-PPI issuers have a minimal level of security, instead of leaving them open to being intimated at a later date.

Solutions: Standards that can either be made mandatory or be used as a reference point to create a new standard under Rule 17(2) are ISO/IEC 14443, IS 14202, ISO/IEC 7816, PCI DSS, etc. Further, the Rule should include penalties for non-compliance of these standards, to make them effectively enforceable by both the government and end users alike. Additional details like the maximum time period in which such security standards should be implemented post their notification, requiring regular third party audits to ensure continuing compliance and effectiveness and requiring updated standards be used upon their release will go a long way in ensuring e-PPI issuers fulfil their mandate under these Rules.

[1] http://cis-india.org/

[2] http://meity.gov.in/sites/upload_files/dit/files/draft-rules-security%20of%20PPI-for%20public%20comments.pdf

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