Tuesday, May 16, 2000,
Chandigarh, India


M A I N   N E W S

IT Bill introduced
Policing clauses dropped

NEW DELHI, May 15 (PTI, UNI) —The government today moved the Information Technology Bill in the Lok Sabha without incorporating controversial provisions for compulsory registration of websites and maintenance of a register of visitors to cybercafes.

“We have accepted all suggestions of the standing committee barring the two on registration of the websites and register of cybercafe visitors because that will unnecessarily create hurdles for public at large,” Information Technology Minister Pramod Mahajan said moving the Bill for consideration.

He gave notices of a number of amendments to the Bill on the basis of the recommendations made by the standing committee whose report was tabled last week.

Among the proposed amendments are the provision for making penalty for damaging computer systems to Rs 1 cr and penalising hackers with up to three year jail term and Rs 2 lakh fine.

While the provisions relating to the website registration and cybercafe registers were dropped following criticism that they were “draconian”, another provision empowering police officers above the rank of the DSP to raid and arrest people for cyber crimes without warrant has been retained.

Earlier in the day, Opposition members cautioned the government against rushing through the bill in a hurry.

During an impromptu debate on the issue during zero hour, Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee said members could take as much time as possible to discuss the bill as it was important and complicated.

Later in the evening, there was a wordy duel with the Opposition protesting against the government’s plan to get the bill passed tonight itself.

During the debate, the Opposition branded the legislation as “incomprehensive” with “draconian” provisions.

The information technology industry led by the National Association of Software and Service Companies (NASSCOM) and the Electronics and Computer Software Export Promotion Council (ESC) raised strong objections to two of the recommendations of Parliamentary Standing Committee on Science and Technology, Environment and Forests.

These recommendations to be inserted to clause 73 would have meant that all portals or websites hosted by anyone living in India would need to be registered with the controller. Failure to comply with this regulation could have been punishable with one year imprisonment. Additionally, each cyber cafe was required to maintain details about the persons accessing the websites. Failure in this case would also have meant imprisonment up to one year or a fine. 

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