Cyber laws are meant to set the definite pattern, some rules and guidelines that defined certain business activities going on through internet legal and certain illegal and hence punishable . The IT Act 2000, the cyber law of India , gives the 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.
One cannot regard government as complete failure in shielding numerous e-commerce activities on the firm basis of which this industry has got to its skies, but then the law cannot be regarded as free from ambiguities.
MMS porn case in which the CEO of bazee.com(an Ebay Company) was arrested for allegedly selling the MMS clips involving school children on its website is the most apt example in this reference. Other cases where the law becomes hazy in its stand includes the case where the newspaper Mid-Daily published the pictures of the Indian actor kissing her boyfriend at the Bombay nightspot and the arrest of Krishan Kumar for illegally using the internet account of Col. (Retd.) J.S. Bajwa.
The IT Act 2000 attempts to change outdated laws and provides ways to deal with cyber crimes. Let’s have an overview of the law where it takes a firm stand and has got successful in the reason for which it was framed.
1. The E-commerce industry carries out its business via transactions and communications done through electronic records . It thus becomes essential that such transactions be made legal . Keeping this point in the consideration, the IT Act 2000 empowers the government departments to accept filing, creating and retention of official documents in the digital format. The Act also puts forward the proposal for setting up the legal framework essential for the authentication and origin of electronic records / communications through digital signature.
2. The Act legalizes the e-mail and gives it the status of being valid form of carrying out communication in India. This implies that e-mails can be duly produced and approved in a court of law , thus can be a regarded as substantial document to carry out legal proceedings.
3. The act also talks about digital signatures and digital records . These have been also awarded the status of being legal and valid means that can form strong basis for launching litigation in a court of law. It invites the corporate companies in the business of being Certifying Authorities for issuing secure Digital Signatures Certificates.
4. The Act now allows Government to issue notification on the web thus heralding e-governance.
5. It eases the task of companies of the filing any form, application or document by laying down the guidelines to be submitted at any appropriate office, authority, body or agency owned or controlled by the government. This will help in saving costs, time and manpower for the corporates.
6. The act also provides statutory remedy to the coporates in case the crime against the accused for breaking into their computer systems or network and damaging and copying the data is proven. The remedy provided by the Act is in the form of monetary damages, not exceeding Rs. 1 crore($200,000).
7. Also the law sets up the Territorial Jurisdiction of the Adjudicating Officers for cyber crimes and the Cyber Regulations Appellate Tribunal.
8. The law has also laid guidelines for providing Internet Services on a license on a non-exclusive basis.
The IT Law 2000, though appears to be self sufficient, it takes mixed stand when it comes to many practical situations. It looses its certainty at many places like:
1. The law misses out completely the issue of Intellectual Property Rights, and makes no provisions whatsoever for copyrighting, trade marking or patenting of electronic information and data. The law even doesn’t talk of the rights and liabilities of domain name holders , the first step of entering into the e-commerce.
2. The law even stays silent over the regulation of electronic payments gateway and segregates the negotiable instruments from the applicability of the IT Act , which may have major effect on the growth of e-commerce in India . It leads to make the banking and financial sectors irresolute in their stands .
3. The act empowers the Deputy Superintendent of Police to look up into the investigations and filling of charge sheet when any case related to cyber law is called. This approach is likely to result in misuse in the context of Corporate India as companies have public offices which would come within the ambit of "public place" under the Act. As a result, companies will not be able to escape potential harassment at the hands of the DSP.
4. Internet is a borderless medium ; it spreads to every corner of the world where life is possible and hence is the cyber criminal. Then how come is it possible to feel relaxed and secured once this law is enforced in the nation??
The Act initially was supposed to apply to crimes committed all over the world, but nobody knows how can this be achieved in practice , how to enforce it all over the world at the same time???
* The IT Act is silent on filming anyone’s personal actions in public and then distributing it electronically. It holds ISPs (Internet Service Providers) responsible for third party data and information, unless contravention is committed without their knowledge or unless the ISP has undertaken due diligence to prevent the contravention .
* For example, many Delhi based newspapers advertise the massage parlors; and in few cases even show the ‘therapeutic masseurs’ hidden behind the mask, who actually are prostitutes. Delhi Police has been successful in busting out a few such rackets but then it is not sure of the action it can take…should it arrest the owners and editors of newspapers or wait for some new clauses in the Act to be added up?? Even the much hyped case of the arrest of Bajaj, the CEO of Bazee.com, was a consequence of this particular ambiguity of the law. One cannot expect an ISP to monitor what information their subscribers are sending out, all 24 hours a day.
Cyber law is a generic term, which denotes all aspects, issues and the legal consequences on the Internet, the World Wide Web and cyber space. India is the 12th nation in the world that has cyber legislation apart from countries like the US, Singapore, France, Malaysia and Japan .
But can the cyber laws of the country be regarded as sufficient and secure enough to provide a strong platform to the country’s e-commerce industry for which they were meant?? India has failed to keep in pace with the world in this respect, and the consequence is not far enough from our sight; most of the big customers of India ’s outsourcing company have started to re-think of carrying out their business in India .Bajaj’s case has given the strongest blow in this respect and have broken India ’s share in outsourcing market as a leader.
If India doesn’t want to loose its position and wishes to stay as the world’s leader forever in outsourcing market, it needs to take fast but intelligent steps to cover the glaring loopholes of the Act, or else the day is not far when the scenario of India ruling the world’s outsourcing market will stay alive in the dreams only as it will be overtaken by its competitors.