Need for New IT Law
- 28 Apr 2022
- 5 min read
Why in News?
Recently, the Minister of State for Electonics and Information Technology (IT) spoke on the need for legislative overhaul of the 22-year-old Information Technology Act,2000.
- The government enacted the original IT legislation in 2000.
- The IT (Amendment) Act came into force in 2009 and was aimed at facilitating e-governance, preventing cybercrime and fostering security practices within the country.
- Recently, the government has notified Information Technology (Intermediary Guidelines and Digital Media Ethics Code) Rules 2021.
Why is there a need for New IT Law (External Issues)?
- India Entering into Digital Age: India is going to have a trillion-dollar digital economy in a few years, and a large number of businesses will be on the Indian Internet.
- Therefore, an open & secure Internet becomes an important economic component of our country.
- Rise of Splinternet: The global internet as we know it is on the verge of splintering into smaller bubbles of national networks due to aggressive national policies, trade disputes, censorship, and dissatisfaction with big tech companies.
- This will have far-reaching consequences that impact international unions, data enterprises and individual consumers alike.
- Perhaps the most sophisticated instance of a splintered internet today would be China’s Great Firewall’.
- What are seen as essential services, like Google Search and Maps, Western social media, and so on – are entirely banned and replaced by Chinese alternatives like Weibo in the name of Cyber Sovereignty
Why is there a need for New IT Law (Internal Issues)?
- Majority of Cybercrimes in India are Bailable Offense: A historical mistake was made when the IT (Amendment) Act, 2008, made almost all cybercrimes, barring a couple, bailable offences.
- The focus was more on enhancing the quantum of civil liability and reducing the quantum of punishment, which explains the reason why the number of cybercrime convictions in the country is in single digits.
- Restricted Cyber Security Remedy: IT Act is effective in metropolitan cities like Mumbai, Delhi, Hyderabad, Bhopal, Bangalore, etc., but it is feeble in tier-two level cities as awareness of the law by enforcement agencies remains a big challenge.
- The IT Act does not cover most crimes committed through mobiles. This needs to be rectified.
What are Present Government Initiatives for Cyber Security?
- The government is looking at a new legislative framework with the new rulemaking capabilities that deal with various issues related to digital space. This should include:
- The majority of cybercrimes need to be made non-bailable offences.
- A comprehensive data protection regime needs to be incorporated in the law to make it more effective.
- Cyber war as an offence needs to be covered under the IT Act.
- Parts of Section 66A of the IT Act are beyond the reasonable restrictions on freedom of speech and expression under the Constitution of India. These need to be removed to make the provisions legally sustainable.
- Increasingly bilateral or multilateral arrangements between countries will have to evolve in such a way that nothing can be done in isolation from other countries.