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India's Digital Future: The Digital India Act 2023

  • 09 Oct 2023
  • 11 min read

This editorial analysis is based on “How the Digital India Act will shape the future of the country’s cyber landscape” which was published in The Hindu on 09/10/2023. It talks about the proposed Digital India Act, 2023 which includes essential clauses that align with the ever-changing digital landscape, aiming to tackle its diverse challenges and capitalise on its opportunities.

For Prelims: Digital India Act, Digital Personal Data Protection Act, National Data Governance Policy, Digital India Goals, Digital India, Digital Media Ethics Code, Artificial Intelligence, Deepfakes.

For Mains: Digital India Act, Aims and Components of DIA, Need of DIA, Challenges and Way Forward.

The recent announcement of the Digital India Act, 2023 (DIA) represents a significant step towards establishing a future-ready legal framework for the country’s burgeoning digital ecosystem.

It comes at a crucial juncture when India's digital transformation is in full swing. This proactive move by the Ministry of Electronics and InformationTechnology (MeitY) aligns with India's ambitious 'Digital India' initiative.

What is the Digital India Act, 2023?

  • Objective:
    • To formulate evolvable rules that are consistent with the changing trends in technologies and can be updated according to the needs of the country’s digital infrastructure.
    • To offer an easily accessible adjudicatory mechanism for online civil and criminal offenses.
    • To deliver timely remedies to citizens, resolve cyber disputes, and enforce the rule of law on the internet.
    • To provide a legislative framework keeping overarching governing principles in mind to ensure compliance.
  • Key Components :
    • Open Internet: According to the Indian government, open internet should have — choice, competition, online diversity, fair market access, ease of doing business as well as ease of compliance for startups. These characteristics prevent the concentration of power and gatekeeping.
    • Online Safety and Trust: The Act will focus on safeguarding users against cyber threats— like revenge porn, defamation, and cyberbullying—on the internet as well as the dark web.
      • It aims to push for digital rights like the Right to be Forgotten and the Right to Digital Inheritance (passing down of digital assets to designated beneficiaries), protect minors and their data from addictive technology, and moderate fake news on social media platforms.
    • Accountable Internet: The Act aims to make internet users and activities more accountable by introducing legal mechanisms for redressal of complaints, upholding constitutional rights in cyber spaces, algorithmic transparency and periodic risk assessments, and disclosure norms for data collected by intermediaries
  • Salient Features:
    • The DIA will replace the two-decade-old Information Technology Act of 2000 (IT Act), which no longer adequately addresses the challenges and opportunities presented by the dynamic growth of the internet and emerging technologies.
    • The DIA's framework will focus on key elements such as online safety, trust, and accountability, ensuring an open internet, and regulating new-age technologies like artificial intelligence and blockchain.
    • The DIA will work in conjunction with other related laws and policies, including the Digital Personal Data Protection Act, Digital India Act Rules, National Data Governance Policy, and amendments to the Indian Penal Code for Cyber Crimes.
    • DIA will review the 'safe harbor' principle, which shields online platforms like Twitter and Facebook from accountability for user-generated content.
    • DIA mandates stringent Know Your Customer (KYC) requirements for wearable devices used in retail sales, with associated criminal law sanctions and penalties.
    • DIA aligns with Digital India Goals for 2026, which aim to establish a USD 1 trillion digital economy and shape the future of global technologies.

What is the Need for Digital India Act?

  • Outdated Regulations: The existing IT Act of 2000 was crafted in an era when the internet had only 5.5 million users, and is ill-equipped to handle the internet's current state.
    • Today, with 850 million users, various intermediaries, and new forms of user harms like cyberstalking and doxing, the IT Act falls short of addressing these complexities.
  • Inadequacy of Current Regulations: Despite the existence of regulatory elements like Intermediary Guidelines, Digital Media Ethics Code, and data protection rules, they are insufficient when it comes to governing new-age technologies.
  • Need for Legal Adaptation: With technological advancements like AI, Blockchain, and IoT, the legal framework must evolve to address their unique challenges. This includes enhancing cybersecurity measures, data protection, and regulating emerging tech sectors.
  • Addressing E-commerce and Online Content: The growth of e-commerce, digital transactions, and online content sharing requires updated regulations. The Digital India Act will tackle issues related to consumer protection, electronic contracts, and content moderation on social media platforms.
  • Global Alignment and Best Practices: To engage effectively in the global digital landscape, India's regulations must align with international standards and practices.

What are the Challenges Ahead in the Implementation of DIA, 2023?

  • Burdensome Compliance Requirements: The act’s regulations may place a significant burden on businesses, particularly small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs).
  • Freedom of Expression: The review of the "safe harbor" principle for online platforms could potentially impact freedom of expression. Ensuring that the act doesn't curb this fundamental right is a delicate task.
  • Resource and Infrastructure Requirements: Effective enforcement of the DIA will require substantial resources, expertise, and infrastructure. Investing in these areas will be crucial.
  • Stakeholder Interests: Balancing the interests of various stakeholders, including tech giants and citizens' rights, poses a significant challenge. Ensuring that all voices are heard and considered in the implementation process is essential.
  • Surveillance and Privacy Concerns: Critics argue that certain provisions of the act may grant excessive surveillance powers to the government, potentially compromising privacy rights. Robust safeguards should be incorporated to protect against abuse of power and violations of privacy.
  • Data Localization and Cross-Border Data Flows: The act’s approach to data localization is a point of contention. While localization can enhance data protection and security, it may also disrupt cross-border data flows, impacting global businesses that rely on efficient data transfers.

What is the Way Forward for Effective Implementation of DIA,2023 ?

  • Stakeholder Engagement: All relevant stakeholders, including government bodies, technology companies, legal experts, and civil society, should be involved in the drafting and implementation process. This will help create a balanced and comprehensive legal framework.
  • Balancing Regulation and Innovation: Stricter regulations, particularly in emerging technologies, could inadvertently stifle entrepreneurial initiatives and deter foreign investments. Striking the right balance between regulation and innovation is critical.
  • Collaboration and Capacity Building: Invest in building the capacity of law enforcement agencies, judiciary, and regulatory bodies to effectively enforce the DIA.
    • Collaborate with other countries and international organizations to align the DIA with global best practices and standards in the digital space.
  • Public Awareness: Conduct public awareness campaigns to educate citizens about their rights and responsibilities in the digital realm, fostering a culture of digital literacy.


The impact of the Digital India Act,2023 will depend on how well it will be put into practice, making sure it is not too hard to follow, respecting privacy of the citizens , and encouraging new ideas and businesses. If these concerns are addressed thoughtfully, this act has the potential to shape a digital landscape that benefits not only individuals and businesses but the entire nation.

Drishti Mains Question

Q. Digital India Act, 2023 is a crucial step towards ensuring a secure, accountable, and innovative digital future for India .Discuss.

UPSC Civil Services Examination, Previous Year Questions (PYQs)


Q1. ‘Right to Privacy’ is protected under which Article of the Constitution of India? (2021)

(a) Article 15
(b) Article 19
(c) Article 21
(d) Article 29

Ans: (c)

Q2. Right to Privacy is protected as an intrinsic part of Right to Life and Personal Liberty. Which of the following in the Constitution of India correctly and appropriately imply the above statement? (2018)

(a) Article 14 and the provisions under the 42nd Amendment to the Constitution.
(b) Article 17 and the Directive Principles of State Policy in Part IV.
(c) Article 21 and the freedoms guaranteed in Part III.
(d) Article 24 and the provisions under the 44th Amendment to the Constitution.

Ans: (c)


Q. Examine the scope of Fundamental Rights in the light of the latest judgement of the Supreme Court on Right to Privacy. (2017)

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