Log in ....Tribune

Dot.ComLatest in ITFree DownloadsOn hardware

Monday, April 2, 2001

"IT Act provides for legal sanctity to all
electronic records"

By Peeyush Agnihotri

Dewang MehtaDOWN-TO-CHEEK sideburns that have almost branded his looks, suave and immaculately dressed, Dewang Mehta (38) is a familiar face on the IT turf in India.

Dewang, who has been trained in graphic arts, is the president of Nasscom (National Association of Software and Service Companies) that represents some 700 Indian IT companies.

The following is an excerpt from the interaction he had with Log in.…Tribune on cyber laws.


Are Cyber Laws relevant in India?

Cyber laws are very much relevant in India. The Government of India implemented the Information Technology Act 2000 in October 2000. The following are some of the salient features of the cyber laws, which help you in understanding the relevance and importance of these laws.

The Information Technology Act, 2000, aims at providing for the legal framework so that legal sanctity is accorded to all electronic records and other activities carried out by electronic means. The Act states that unless otherwise agreed, an acceptance of contract may be expressed by electronic means of communication and the same shall have legal validity and enforceability. Some highlights of the Act are:

  • Chapter-II of the Act specifically stipulates that any subscriber may authenticate an electronic record by affixing his digital signature. It further states that any person can verify an electronic record by the use of a public key of the subscriber.

  • Chapter III of the Act details about the electronic governance and provides inter alia amongst others that where any law provides that information or any other matter shall be in writing or in typewritten or printed form, then, notwithstanding anything contained in such law, such requirement shall be deemed to have been satisfied if such information or matter is

(a) rendered or made available in an electronic form; and

(b) accessible so as to be usable for a subsequent reference

The said chapter also details the legal recognition of digital signatures.

  • Chapter IV of the said Act gives a scheme for the regulation of certifying authorities. The Act envisages a Controller who shall supervise the Certifying Authorities as also laying down standards and conditions governing the Certifying Authorities. The Controller will also specify the various forms and content of digital signature certificates. The Act accepts the need for recognising foreign certifying authorities and it further details the various provisions for the issuance of license to issue digital signature certificates.

  • Chapter VII of the Act details the scheme of things relating to digital signature certificates. The duties of subscribers are also enshrined in the Act.

  • Chapter IX talks about penalties and adjudication for various offences. The penalties for damage to a computer system have been fixed as damages by way of compensation not exceeding Rs 1,00,00,000. The Act talks of appointment of an officer not below the rank of a Director to the Government of India or an equivalent officer of a state government as an Adjudicating Officer to judge whether any person has made a contravention of any of the provisions of the Act. The officer has been given the powers of a civil court.

  • The Act in Chapter X talks of the establishment of Cyber Regulations Appellate Tribunal, an appellate body where appeals against the orders passed by the Adjudicating Officers shall be preferred.

  • Chapter XI of the Act talks about various offences, which could be investigated only by a police officer not below the rank of Deputy Superintendent of Police. These offences include tampering with computer source documents, publishing of information that is obscene in electronic form and hacking.

The Act also provides for the constitution of the Cyber Regulations Advisory Committee to advise the government as regards any rules, or on anything else connected with the Act. The 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 provisions of the IT Act.

Is there a way to monitor Net chat?

There are many technical methods to monitor Net chat but it is not legal, until you have the necessary permission from a competent authority (courts, etc.)

Would monitoring site downloads and chat not infringe upon the privacy of a person?

Nobody, even a person who has the orders from the competent authority, can monitor Internet access. If somebody does so, one can take that person to court for infringement of privacy.

How can cyber police monitor sites?

Technically, it is always possible to monitor sites. The Internet Service Providers (ISPs) have been instructed to have monitoring cells. The security agencies, with competent authority, too can monitor sites. The main purpose is to catch hold of unlawful activities and cyber terrorists.

What is the future of cyber laws in India?

The cyber laws have been implemented only in October 2000. It is new and everybody is trying to understand it. India is the 12th country in the world to have cyber laws. We are proud of that. I think it has a great future.

Home Top