When Internet was devel-oped, the founding fathers of Internet hardly had any inclination that Internet could transform itself into an all-pervading revolution which could be misused for criminal activities and which required regulation. Today, there are many dis-turbing things happen-ing in cyberspace. Due to the anonymous nature of the Internet, it is possible to engage into a variety of criminal activities with impunity and people with intelligence, have been grossly misusing this as-pect of the Internet to per-petuate criminal activities in cyberspace. Hence the need for Cyberlaws in In-dia. Cyberlaw is important because it touches almost all aspects of transactions and activities on and con-cerning the Internet, the World Wide Web and Cy-berspace. Initially it may seem that Cyberlaws is a very technical field and that it does not have any bearing to most activities in Cyberspace. But the actual truth is that nothing could be further than the truth. Whether we realize it or not, every action and every reaction in Cyberspace has some legal and Cyber legal perspectives.In May 2000, both the houses of the In-dian Parliament passed the Information Technology Bill. The Bill received the assent of the President in August 2000 and came to be known as the Informa-tion Technology Act, 2000. Cyber laws are contained in the IT Act, 2000.This Act aims to provide the legal infrastructure for e-com-merce in India. And the cy-ber laws have a major im-pact for e-businesses and the new economy in India. So, it is important to under-stand what are the various perspectives of the IT Act, 2000 and what it offers.
The Information Technology Act, 2000 also aims to provide for the legal framework so that legal sanctity is accorded to all electronic records and other activities carried out by elec-tronic means. The Act states that unless otherwise agreed, an acceptance of contract may be expressed by electronic means of communication and the same shall have legal validity and enforceability.
Advantages of Cyber Laws
The IT Act 2000 attempts to change outdated laws and provides ways to deal with cy-ber crimes. We need such laws so that people can perform purchase transactions over the Net through credit cards without fear of misuse. The Act offers the much-needed legal framework so that in-formation is not denied legal effect, validity or enforceabil-ity, solely on the ground that it is in the form of electronic records.
In view of the growth in trans-actions and communications carried out through electron-ic records, the Act seeks to empower government de-partments to accept filing, creating and retention of of-ficial documents in the digital format. The Act has also pro-posed a legal framework for the authentication and origin of electronic records / com-munications through digital signature.
From the perspective of e-commerce in India, the IT Act 2000 and its provisions contain many positive as-pects. Firstly, the implications of these provisions for the e-businesses would be that email would now be a valid and legal form of commu-nication in our country that can be duly produced and ap-proved in a court of law.
The IT Act 2000, being the first legislation on technolo-gy, computers, e-commerce and e-communication, the was the subject of extensive debates, elaborate reviews with one arm of the industry criticizing some sections of the Act to be draconian and other stating it is too dilut-ed and lenient. There were some obvious omissions too resulting in the investiga-tors relying more and more on the time-tested (one and half century-old) Indian Pe-nal Code even in technology based cases with the IT Act also being referred in the pro-cess with the reliance more on IPC rather on the ITA.
Thus the need for an amend-ment – a detailed one – was felt for the I.T. Act. Major in-dustry bodies were consult-ed and advisory groups were formed to go into the per-ceived lacunae in the I.T. Act and comparing it with similar legislations in other nations and to suggest recommen-dations. Such recommen-dations were analyzed and subsequently taken up as a comprehensive Amendment Act and after considerable administrative procedures, the consolidated amendment called the Information Tech-nology Amendment Act 2008 was placed in the Parliament and passed at the end of 2008 (just after Mumbai ter-rorist attack of 26 November 2008 had taken place). The IT Amendment Act 2008 got the President assent on 5 Feb 2009 and was made effective from 27 October 2009.
Cyber Laws in India
When Internet was developed, the founding fathers of Internet hardly had any inclination that Internet could transform itself into an all pervading revolution which could be misused for criminal activities and which required regulation. Today, there are many disturbing things happening in cyberspace. Due to the anonymous nature of the Internet, it is possible to engage into a variety of criminal activities with impunity and people with intelligence, have been grossly misusing this aspect of the Internet to perpetuate criminal activities in cyberspace. Hence the need for Cyberlaws in India.
Cyberlaw is important because it touches almost all aspects of transactions and activities on and concerning the Internet, the World Wide Web and Cyberspace. Initially it may seem that Cyberlaws is a very technical field and that it does not have any bearing to most activities in Cyberspace. But the actual truth is that nothing could be further than the truth. Whether we realize it or not, every action and every reaction in Cyberspace has some legal and Cyber legal perspectives.
Yes, Cyberlaw does concern you. As the nature of Internet is changing and this new medium is being seen as the ultimate medium ever evolved in human history, every activity of yours in Cyberspace can and will have a Cyber legal perspective. From the time you register your Domain Name, to the time you set up your web site, to the time you promote your website, to the time when you send and receive emails , to the time you conduct electronic commerce transactions on the said site, at every point of time, there are various Cyberlaw issues involved. You may not be bothered about these issues today because you may feel that they are very distant from you and that they do not have an impact on your Cyber activities. But sooner or later, you will have to tighten your belts and take note of Cyberlaw for your own benefit.
The IT Act 2000 attempts to change outdated laws and provides ways to deal with cyber crimes. We need such laws so that people can perform purchase transactions over the Net through credit cards without fear of misuse. The Act offers the much-needed legal framework so that information is not denied legal effect, validity or enforceability, solely on the ground that it is in the form of electronic records.
In view of the growth in transactions and communications carried out through electronic records, the Act seeks to empower government departments to accept filing, creating and retention of official documents in the digital format. The Act has also proposed a legal framework for the authentication and origin of electronic records / communications through digital signature.
- From the perspective of e-commerce in India, the IT Act 2000 and its provisions contain many positive aspects. Firstly, the implications of these provisions for the e-businesses would be that email would now be a valid and legal form of communication in our country that can be duly produced and approved in a court of law.
- Companies shall now be able to carry out electronic commerce using the legal infrastructure provided by the Act.
- Digital signatures have been given legal validity and sanction in the Act.
- The Act throws open the doors for the entry of corporate companies in the business of being Certifying Authorities for issuing Digital Signatures Certificates.
- The Act now allows Government to issue notification on the web thus heralding e-governance.
- The Act enables the companies to file any form, application or any other document with any office, authority, body or agency owned or controlled by the appropriate Government in electronic form by means of such electronic form as may be prescribed by the appropriate Government.
- The IT Act also addresses the important issues of security, which are so critical to the success of electronic transactions. The Act has given a legal definition to the concept of secure digital signatures that would be required to have been passed through a system of a security procedure, as stipulated by the Government at a later date.
- Under the IT Act, 2000, it shall now be possible for corporates to have a statutory remedy in case if anyone breaks into their computer systems or network and causes damages or copies data. The remedy provided by the Act is in the form of monetary damages, not exceeding Rs. 1 crore.
Cyber laws that everyone using the internet must be aware of
Internet is just like life. It is interesting and we spend a lot of time doing amusing things here, but it comes with its fair share of trouble. With the technology boom and easy Internet access across the country, cyber crime, too, has become a pretty common occurrence. From hacking into computers to making fraudulent transactions online, there are many ways in which we can become a victim of illegal cyber activities.
To regulate such activities that violate the rights of an Internet user, the Indian government has the Information Technology Act, 2000, in place. Here are some of its sections that empower Internet users and attempt to safeguard the cyberspace.
A person who intentionally conceals, destroys or alters any computer source code (such as programmes, computer commands, design and layout), when it is required to be maintained by law commits an offence and can be punished with 3 years’ imprisonment or a fine of 2 Lakhs INR or both
If a person fraudulently uses the password, digital signature or other unique identification of another person, he/she can face imprisonment up to 3 years or/and a fine of 1 Lakh INR.
If a person cheats someone using a computer resource or a communication device, he/she could face imprisonment up to 3 years or/and fine up to 1 Lakh INR
If a person captures, transmits or publishes images of a person’s private parts without his/her consent or knowledge, the person is entitled to imprisonment up to 3 years of fine up to 2 Lakhs INR or both
A person can face life imprisonment if he/she denies an authorized person the access to the computer resource or attempts to penetrate/access a computer resource without authorization, with an aim to threaten the unity, integrity, security or sovereignty of the nation. This is a non-bailable offence.
If a person captures, publishes or transmits images of a child in a sexually explicit act or induces anyone under the age of 18 into a sexual act, then the person can face imprisonment up to 7 years or fine up to 10 lakhs INR or both
If the government feel it necessary in the interest of sovereignty and integrity of India, it can intercept, monitor or decrypt any information generated, transmitted, received or stored in any computer resource. The power is subject to compliance of procedure. Under section 69A, the central government can also block any information from public access.
If a body corporate is negligent in implementing reasonable security practices which causes wrongful loss or gain to any person, such body corporate shall be liable to pay damages to the affection person.
Cyber Crime FAQ
When Internet was developed, the founding fathers of Internet hardly had any inclination that Internet could also be misused for criminal activities. Today, there are many disturbing things happening in cyberspace. Cybercrime refers to all the activities done with criminal intent in cyberspace. These could be either the criminal activities in the conventional sense or could be activities, newly evolved with the growth of the new medium. Because of the anonymous nature of the Internet, it is possible to engage into a variety of criminal activities with impunity and people with intelligence, have been grossly misusing this aspect of the Internet to perpetuate criminal activities in cyberspace. The field of Cybercrime is just emerging and new forms of criminal activities in cyberspace are coming to the forefront with the passing of each new day.
There can be no one exhaustive definition about Cybercrime. However, any activities which basically offend human sensibilities, can also be included in its ambit. Child Pornography on the Internet constitutes one serious Cybercrime. Similarly, online pedophiles, using internet to induce minor children into sex, are as much Cybercriminals as any others.
Cybercrimes can be basically divided into 3 major categories being Cybercrimes against persons, property and Government.
Cybercrimes committed against persons include various crimes like transmission of child-pornography, harassment of any one with the use of a computer such as e-mail, and cyber-stalking.
The trafficking, distribution, posting, and dissemination of obscene material including pornography, indecent exposure, and child pornography, constitutes one of the most important Cybercrimes known today. The potential harm of such a crime to humanity can hardly be overstated. This is one Cybercrime which threatens to undermine the growth of the younger generation as also leave irreparable scars and injury on the younger generation, if not controlled.
Cyber harassment is a distinct Cybercrime. Various kinds of harassment can and does occur in cyberspace, or through the use of cyberspace. Harassment can be sexual, racial, religious, or other. Persons perpetuating such harassment are also guilty of cybercrimes. Cyber harassment as a crime also brings us to another related area of violation of privacy of netizens. Violation of privacy of online citizens is a Cybercrime of a grave nature. No one likes any other person invading the precious and extremely touchy area of his or her own privacy which the medium of Internet grants to the netizen.
The second category of Cybercrimes is that of Cybercrimes against all forms of property. These crimes include unauthorized computer trespassing through cyberspace, computer vandalism, transmission of harmful programs, and unauthorized possession of computerized information.
Hacking and cracking are amongst the gravest Cybercrimes known till date. It is a dreadful feeling to know that a stranger has broken into your computer systems without your knowledge and consent and has tampered with precious confidential data and information. Coupled with this , the actuality is that no computer system in the world is hacking proof. It is unanimously agreed that any and every system in the world can be hacked. The recent denial of service attacks seen over the popular commercial sites like E-bay, Yahoo, Amazon and others are a new category of Cybercrimes which are slowly emerging as being extremely dangerous. Using one's own programming abilities as also various programmes with malicious intent to gain unauthorized access to a computer or network are very serious crimes. Similarly, the creation and dissemination of harmful computer programs or virus which do irreparable damage to computer systems is another kind of Cybercrime. Software piracy is also another distinct kind of Cybercrime which is perpetuated by many people online who distribute illegal and unauthorised pirated copies of software.
The third category of Cybercrimes relate to Cybercrimes against Government. Cyber Terrorism is one distinct kind of crime in this category. The growth of Internet has shown that the medium of Cyberspace is being used by individuals and groups to threaten the international governments as also to terrorise the citizens of a country. This crime manifests itself into terrorism when an individual &"cracks&" into a government or military maintained website.
Since Cybercrime is a newly specialised field, growing in Cyberlaws, a lot of development has to take place in terms of putting into place the relevant legal mechanism for controlling and preventing Cybercrime. As of now, there is absolutely no comprehensive law on Cybercrime any where in the world. This is reason that the investigating agencies like FBI are finding the Cyberspace to be an extremely difficult terrain. These various Cybercrimes fall into that grey area of Internet law which is neither fully nor partially covered by the existing laws and that too in some countries
The case of the virus "I love you" demonstrates the need for having cyberlaws concerning Cybercrimes in different national jurisdictions. At the time of the web publication of this feature, Reuters has reported that "The Philippines has yet to arrest the suspected creator of the 'Love Bug' computer virus because it lacks laws that deal with computer crime, a senior police officer said". The fact of the matter is that there are no laws relating to Cybercrime in the Philippines. The National Bureau of Investigation is finding it difficult to legally arrest the suspect behind the 'Love Bug' computer virus. As such, the need for countries to legislate Cyberlaws relating to Cybercrime arises on an urgent priority basis.
The courts in United States of America have already begun taking cognizance of various kinds of fraud and Cybercrimes being perpetuated in Cyberspace. For the victims of various Cybercrimes, there is no one healing remedy. They can either file for civil damages or wait for the culprits to be nabbed and then to be tried under provisions, existing or envisaged which are not comprehensive at all. However, a lot of work has to be done in this field. Just as human mind is ingenious enough to devise new ways for perpetuating crime, similarly, human ingenuity needs to be channelised into developing effective legal and regulatory mechanisms to control and prevent Cybercrimes.
We all must remember that Cyberspace is a common heritage of ours which we have inherited in our life times from the benefits of ever growing technologies. This Cyberspace is the lifeline of the entire universe and given its irreversible position today, it is the duty of every netizen to contribute toward making the said cyberspace free of any trouble or cybercrime. To rephrase the famous words of Rabindra Nath Tagore in today's context, "Where the Cyberspace is without fear or crime and the head is held high, where knowledge is free, where tireless striving stretches its arms towards perfection, into that cyber heaven of freedom, O my father, let our humanity awake."