Cyberlaw in India is not a separate legal framework. Its a combination of Contract, Intellectual property, Data protection, and privacy laws. With the Computer and internet taking over every aspect of our life, there was a need for strong cyber law. Cyber laws supervise the digital circulation of information, software, information security, e-commerce, and monetary transactions.
The Information Technology Act, 2000 addresses the gamut of new-age crimes. Computer technology, mobile devices, software, and the internet are both medium and target of such crimes.
All Traditional criminal activities are such as theft, fraud, forgery, defamation, and mischief are part of cyberspace. These were addressed in the Indian Penal Code already.
Table of Content:
- Importance of Cyber Law in India
- Types of Cyber Crimes
- Evolution of Cyber Law in India
- The Need for Cyber Laws
- What is the Information Technology Act, 2000?
- How to Prevent Cyber Crime?
- Frequently Asked Questions
Strong cyber Law was needed to address:
Importance of Cyber Law in India
Cyber laws in India or cybercrime law in India are important because of the prime reason that cybercrime act in India encompasses and covers all the aspects which occur on or with the internet - transactions, and activities which concern the internet and cyberspace.
"The Cyber Laws in India has paved the way for electronic commerce and electronic governance in the country by ensuring maximum connectivity and minimum cybersecurity risks. Also, enhancing the scope and expanding the use of digital mediums," says Advocate Krishnamohan K Menon.
Types of Cyber Crimes
Different types of cybercrimes have different punishments in India.
- Identity theft - When personal information of a person is stolen with the purpose of using their financial resources or to take a loan or credit card in their name then such a crime is known as Identity theft.
- Cyberterrorism - When a threat of extortion or any kind of harm is being subjected towards a person, organization, group or state, it is known as the crime of Cyber Terrorism. Generally, it includes the well-planned attack strategies on the Government and corporate computer system.
- Cyberbullying - When a teenager or adolescent harasses, defames, or intimidates someone with the use of the internet, phone, chat rooms, instant messaging or any other social network then the person is said to be committing the crime of Cyberbullying. When the same crime is done by adults it is known as Cyberstalking.
- Hacking - The most common cybercrime is Hacking. In this crime, the person gets access to other people's computers and passwords to use it for their own wrongful gain.
- Defamation - While every individual has his or her right to speech on internet platforms as well, but if their statements cross a line and harm the reputation of any individual or organization, then they can be charged with the Defamation Law.
- Copyright - With the massive surge in internet users, when the data/ information is distributed on all platforms, copyrighting your work aids you to restrict the use of your work. Any use of your copyrighted without your permission is a punishable offence.
- Trade Secrets - Internet organization spends a lot of their time and money in developing softwares, applications, and tools and rely on Cyber Laws to protect their data and trade secrets against theft; doing which is a punishable offence.
- Freedom of Speech - When it comes to the internet, there is a very thin line between freedom of speech and being a cyber-offender. As freedom of speech enables individuals to speak their mind, cyber law refrains obscenity and crassness over the web.
- Harassment and Stalking - Harassment and stalking are prohibited over internet platforms as well. Cyber laws protect the victims and prosecute the offender against this offence.
Evolution of Cyber Law in India
With an increase in the dependency on the use of technology, the need for cyberlaw was necessary. Much like every coin has two sides, therefore, the dependency on technology has its pros and cons. The rise of the 21st century marked the evolution of cyberlaw in India with the Information Technology Act, 2000 (popularly known as the IT Act). The first-ever cybercrime was recorded in the year 1820[pdf].
The objective of the Information Technology Act in India is as follows:
- To provide legal recognition for all e-transactions
- To give legal recognition to digital signatures as a valid signature to accept agreements online
- To give legal recognition to keeping accounting books in electronic form by bankers as well as other organizations
- Protection of online privacy and stopping cyber crimes
The Indian IT law updated the Reserve Bank of India Act and the Indian Evidence Act. With the evolution of cyberlaw, almost all online activities came under scrutiny. However, one thing about cyber law is that there are certain areas on which cybercrime laws in India do not apply such as:
- Negotiable Instrument being other than cheque
- Power of Attorney
- The contract for Sale or Conveyance of Immovable Property
- Central Government notified documents or transactions
The Need for Cyber Laws
In the present world which is more tech-savvy, the words cyber law and cyber crimes have also become more sophisticated. Internet and technology were launched for research purposes and making the lives of humans easy but as the use and number of people on the internet increased, the need for cyber laws in India was felt. As the nature of the internet is anonymous it is easy to commit cybercrimes. Thereby many could misuse this aspect largely.
Advocate Tanuj Aggarwal says, "With the exponential growth in the digital space, the establishment of certain reforms was highly needed for the security of the citizen’s privacy and data protection."
What is the Information Technology Act, 2000?
When the emphasis was on the need for cyber law or cybersecurity laws, then, it was imperative to implement an IT law in India. Thus, the Information Technology Act, 2000, or also known as the Indian Cyber Act or the Internet Law came to force in India. Since the enactment, the Indian Internet Laws were drafted to bring in view all the electronic records and online/electronic activities to legal recognition. The IT Act also addresses the important issues of security, which are critical to the success of electronic transactions. The Internet Laws in India not only validates digital signatures but also provides for how authentication of the documents, which has been accepted and generated by using the digital signatures, can be done.
As IT Act is a cybersecurity law introduced to secure cyberspace, the Information Technology Law was amended under;
- the Indian Penal Code
- the Indian Evidence Act
- the Banker’s Book Evidence Act
- the Reserve Bank of India
The prime focus of cyber law in India is to prevent:
- computer crime
- forgery of electronic data & record in e-commerce
- electronic transaction
IT Act, 2000 went through amendmentsin the year 2008. These were made in light of the laws on cybercrime - IT Act, 2000 by way of the IT Act, 2008. They were enforced at the beginning of 2009 to strengthen the cybersecurity laws. Modifications in the Information Technology Act, 2008 included the change in the definition of some terms such as communication devices. The amendment for the definition of communication device was to include:
- the current use
- to validate the digital signature
- to make the IP address owner accountable
- impose liability for data breaches
How to Prevent Cyber Crime?
No doubt that the cybersecurity laws or cyber laws in India provide protection from cybercrime. However, prevention is always better than cure. Therefore, one should take the following steps for preventing a cybercrime:
- Unsolicited text message - We all get text messages from an unknown number. One should be cautious and try to avoid responding to text messages or automated voice messages from an unknown number.
- Downloads on the mobile phone - Download everything on the mobile phone from a trustworthy source only.
- Rating and feedback - Always check for the seller’s rating and feedback of customers for the seller. Be sure that you are checking current feedbacks. Also, beware of feedbacks that are 100% seller favoring or have an entry on the same date.
- Personal Information Request - Everyone must have received a call or mail. In which, the person on the other side asks for personal information. This includes your card CVV or an mail containing an attachment, which requires you to click on embedded links. Be sure to never respond to such emails or calls.
Frequently Asked Questions:
What is Intellectual Property and how it is protected?
Intellectual Property is the set of intangibles that you thought of, like logos, designs, symbols, taglines, books, slogans, product names, literature or businesses, and is legally protected by you or your company against outside use without permission. There are several cyber laws for the ownership and the right distribution of the Intellectual Property like Copyright, Patents, Trademarks or Service Marks, Trade Secrets, Domain Disputes, Contracts, Privacy, Employment, Defamation, Data Retention, and Jurisdiction.
What are the advantages of Cyber Laws?
- Secured E-Commerce Infrastructure for online businesses.
- Digitally sign your contracts/ papers
- Introduced new businesses for Certifying Authorities
- Proficient use of E-Forms as prescribed
- Secured websites with Digital Certificates
- Meticulous monitoring on the web traffics
- Electronic Transactions safeguarded
- Emails are a legal form of communication and are approved in the court of law.
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[PDF] Read about the first-ever cybercrime recorded in the year 1820.
 Information Technology ACT, 2002 - It is the law that deals with cybercrime and electronic commerce in India.
 Information Technology ACT, 2008 - The main Indian act that addresses legal challenges specifically as they relate to the Internet is the Information Technology (Amendment) Act, 2008