What is Cyber Law?
Cyberlaw is the portion of the overall legal system that deals with the Internet, cyberspace, and their respective legal issues. Cyberlaw covers a fairly broad area, encompassing several subtopics including freedom of expression, access to and usage of the Internet, and online privacy. Generically, cyber law is referred to as the Law of the Internet.
Why are cyber laws needed?
Like any law, cyber law is created to help protect people and organizations on the Internet from malicious people on the Internet and help maintain order. If someone breaks a cyber law or rule, it allows another person or organization to take action against that person or have them sentenced to a punishment.
Information Technology Act, 2000
The Information Technology Act, 2000 (also known as ITA-2000, or the IT Act) is an Act of the Indian Parliament published on 17 October 2000. It is the primary law in India dealing with cybercrime and electronic commerce. It is based on the UNCITRAL Model Law on International Commercial Arbitration recommended by the General Assembly of United Nations by a resolution dated 30 January 1997.
The bill was passed in the budget session of 2000 and signed by President K. R. Narayanan. The bill was finalized by a group of officials headed by then Minister of Information Technology Pramod Mahajan.
The original Act contained 94 sections, divided into 13 chapters and 4 schedules. The laws apply to the whole of India. If a crime involves a computer or network located in India, persons of other nationalities can also be indicted under the law.
The Act provides a legal framework for electronic governance by giving recognition to electronic records and digital signatures. It also defines cybercrimes and prescribes penalties for them. The Act directed the formation of a Controller of Certifying Authorities to regulate the issuance of digital signatures. It also established a Cyber Appellate Tribunal to resolve disputes arising from this new law. The Act also amended various sections of the Indian Penal Code, 1860, the Indian Evidence Act, 1872, the Banker’s Book Evidence Act, 1891, and the Reserve Bank of India Act, 1934 to make them compliant with new technologies.
A major amendment was made in 2008. It introduced Section 66A which penalized sending “offensive messages”. It also introduced Section 69, which gave authorities the power of “interception or monitoring or decryption of any information through any computer resource”. Additionally, it introduced provisions addressing – pornography, child porn, cyber terrorism, and voyeurism. The amendment was passed on 22 December 2008 without any debate in Lok Sabha. The next day it was passed by the Rajya Sabha. It was signed into law by President Pratibha Patil, on 5 February 2009.
Some Important Sections:
I. Section 65
- Offense – Tampering with computer source documents.
- Penalty – Imprisonment up to three years, or/and with fine up to ₹200,000
- Description – If a person knowingly or intentionally conceals, destroys or alters or intentionally or knowingly causes another to conceal, destroy or alter any computer source code used for a computer, computer program, computer system or computer network when the computer source code is required to be kept or maintained by law for the time being in force.
II. Section 66
- Offense – Hacking with the computer system.
- Penalty – Imprisonment up to three years, or/and with fine up to ₹500,000
- Description – If a person with the intent to cause or knowing that he is likely to cause wrongful loss or damage to the public or any person destroys or deletes or alters any information residing in a computer resource or diminishes its value or utility or affects it injuriously by any means, commits hack.
III. Section 67B
- Offense – Publishing child porn or predating children online.
- Penalty – Imprisonment up to five years, or/and with fine up to ₹1,000,000 on the first conviction. Imprisonment up to seven years, or/and with fine up to ₹1,000,000 on second conviction.
- Description – If a person captures, publishes or transmits images of a child in a sexually explicit act or conduct. If a person induces a child into a sexual act. A child is defined as anyone under 18.
IV. Section 71
- Offense – Misrepresentation.
- Penalty – Imprisonment up to 2 years, or/and with fine up to ₹100,000.
- Description – If anyone makes any misrepresentation to, or suppresses any material fact from, the Controller or the Certifying Authority for obtaining any license or Digital Signature Certificate.