Information Technology Act 2000

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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 electronic means. The said Act also proposes to amend the Indian Penal Code, 1860, the Indian Evidence Act, 1872, The Bankers’ Books Evidence Act, 1891, The Reserve Bank of India Act, 1934 to make them in tune with the provision of IT Act.

Salient Features

Electronic Governance:

  • It provides for the use of Digital Signature to authenticate an electronic record.
  • Deals about Electronic Governance and provides inter alia amongst others for any law to be made available in an electronic form; and accessible so as to be usable for a subsequent reference.
  • It also provides for Regulation of Certifying Authorities and various provisions for the issue of license to issue Digital Signature Certificates.

Adjudication and Penalties:

  • It has provisions for penalties and adjudication for various offences. The penalties compensation not exceeding Rs.1 crore to affected persons.
  • It provides for the appointment of any officers not below the rank of a Director to the Government of India or an equivalent officer of state government as an Adjudicating Officer who shall adjudicate whether any person has made a contravention of any of the provisions of the said Act or rules framed there under. The said Adjudicating Officer has been given the powers of a Civil Court.
  • Certain offences shall be investigated only by a Police Officer not below the rank of the Deputy Superintendent of Police. These offences include tampering with computer source documents, publishing of information, which is obscene in electronic form, and hacking.
  • It also talks of the establishment of the Cyber Regulations Appellate Tribunal, which shall be an appellate body where appeals against the orders passed by the Adjudicating Officers, shall be preferred.

Advisory Committee:

  • The Act also provides for the constitution of the Cyber Regulations Advisory Committee, which shall advice the government as regards any rules, or for any other purpose connected with the said act.

The Information Technology (Amendment) Act 2008

The Information Technology (Amendment) Act, 2008 an act to amend the IT Act 2000 dealt with various changes as summarized below:

Electronic Commerce:

  • It provides legal recognitions to electronic transactions carried out by means of electronic data interchange.
  • Thereby legalizes alternatives to paper based methods of communication and storage of information and to facilitate the filing of documents of government agencies.

Cyber Crime:

  • It has many provisions for activities like hacking, tempering, sending offensive messages, violating personal privacy, etc.
  • For example Section 66A (Sending offensive messages through communication service, etc) has punishment of Imprisonment of 3 years & fine.
  • Section 66F (Cyber terrorism) has punishment of Imprisonment for life.

 Data Privacy:

  • The amended Act introduced two sections addressing Data Protection,
  • Section 43A (Compensation for failure to protect data), and Section 72A (Punishment for disclosure of information in breach of lawful contract.
  • Section 67C refers to the Preservation and Retention of Information by Intermediaries.

Monitoring of Information:

  • Section 69 gives power to issue directions for interception or monitoring or decryption of any information through any computer source.
  • Section 69B authorizes to monitor and collect traffic data or information through any computer resource for Cyber security.

Adjudication:

  • Section 78 was amended to include certain offences shall be investigated only by a Police Officer not below the rank of Police Inspector (and not Deputy Superintendent of Police) can investigate the offences and conduct raids.

Supreme Court Struck Down Section 66A of IT Act in 2015

  • It had provision for punishment for online offence like sending offensive messages or posting content deemed to be “allegedly objectionable”.
  • It had 3 years jail term, the SC held Section 66A unconstitutional in its entirety to struck it down.
  • SC also clarifies the liberty of thought and expression as the three forms of Discussion, Advocacy and Incitement
  • The liberty of thought and expression rights to be protected no matter how unpopular for a particular cause and may be curbed only when it reaches to the level of incitement.
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