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Cyber laws and IT Act
Cyber laws describes the legal issues related to use of communications technology, particularly the Internet. Cyber law is an emulation of many legal fields, including intellectual property, privacy, freedom of expression, and jurisdiction. In essence, cyber law is an attempt to apply laws designed for the physical world, to human activity on the Internet. In India, The IT Act, 2000 as amended by The IT (Amendment) Act, 2008 is known as the Cyber law. It has a separate chapter XI entitled “Offences” in which various cyber crimes have been declared as penal offences punishable with imprisonment and fine. In a cyber crime, computer or the data itself the target or the object of offence and even a tool in committing some other offence, providing the necessary inputs for that offence. All such acts of crime will come under the broader definition of cyber crime.
The United Nations Commission on International Trade Law (UNCITRAL) adopted the Model Law on e-commerce in 1996. The General Assembly of United Nations passed a resolution in January 1997 inter-alia, recommending all States in the UN to give favorable considerations to the said Model Law, which provides for recognition to electronic records and according it the same treatment like a paper communication and record. It is against this background the Government of India enacted its Information Technology Act 2000 with the objectives as follows, stated in the preface to the Act itself “to provide legal recognition for transactions carried out by means of electronic data interchange and other means of electronic communication, commonly referred to as “electronic commerce”, which involve the use of alternatives to paper-based methods of communication and storage of information, to facilitate electronic filing of documents with the Government agencies and further to amend the Indian Penal Code, the Indian Evidence Act, 1872, the Bankers’ Books Evidence Act, 1891 and the Reserve Bank of India Act, 1934 and for matters connected therewith or incidental thereto.”
The Information Technology Act, 2000, was thus passed as the Act No.21 of 2000, got President assent on 9 June and was made effective from 17 October 2000. The Act essentially deals with the following issues
- Legal Recognition of Electronic Documents
- Legal Recognition of Digital Signatures
- Offenses and Contraventions
- Justice Dispensation Systems for cyber crimes.
Amendment Act 2008 – The IT Act 2000 was the subject of reviews and criticisms for being draconian and other stating it is too diluted and lenient. There were some conspicuous omissions too resulting in the investigators relying more and more on Indian Penal Code.
Hence, IT Act 2000, was amended after consultation and recommendations from industry bodies and advisory groups The consolidated amendment are called the Information Technology Amendment Act 2008 was passed by the end of 2008 and got the President assent on 5 Feb 2009 and was made effective from 27 October 2009. Some of the notable features of the ITAA are
- Focusing on data privacy
- Focusing on Information Security
- Defining cyber café
- Making digital signature technology neutral
- Defining reasonable security practices to be followed by corporate
- Redefining the role of intermediaries
- Recognizing the role of Indian Computer Emergency Response Team
- Inclusion of some additional cyber crimes like child pornography and cyber terrorism
- Authorizing an Inspector to investigate cyber offences (as against the DSP earlier)