The Information Technology Act, 2000 (also known as the IT Act) is an act by the Indian Parliament which was notified on 17th October 2000 and is the primary law of India dealing with cybercrime and electronic commerce.
This act was introduced by Pramod Mahajan (Minister of Communications and Information Technology).
The original act consists of 94 sections which are divided into 13 chapters and 4 schedules.
With the advent of IT Act, various sections of the Indian Penal Code, 1860, the Indian Evidence Act, 1872, the Banker’s Book Evidence Act, 1891, and the Reserve Bank of India Act, 1934 have been amended to make them compliant with new technologies.
Information Technology Act, 2000
Model law on electric commerce (e-commerce) was adopted by United Nations Commission on International Trade Law (UNCITRAL) in 1996 to bring uniformity in the law in different countries.
The General Assembly of the United Nations recommended all the countries to consider this model law before making changes in their own laws. After this recommendation, India drafted the IT Bill in 1999, which was passed in May 2000.
After the passing of IT Act, 2000, India became the 12th country to enable cyber laws.
Objectives of the Act
The transactions which are made by electronic exchange of data or by any electronic means of communication have been given legal recognition as per the IT Act, 2000.
This act provides an alternative for the paper-based method of communication and involves electronic filing of documents.
The main objectives of IT Act are:-
- To reduce the use of paper-based method of communication by granting legal recognition to all the transactions which are done via electronic exchange of data or other electronic means of communication or e-commerce.
- To give legal recognition to digital signatures. Digital signatures provides authentication of any information or matters which require legal authentication.
- Facilitating the electronic filing of documents with Government agencies and other departments also.
- To electronically store data.
- To facilitate the electronic transfer of funds between financial institutions and banks.
- To give legal sanctions.
- Granting legal recognition to bankers under the Reserve Bank of India Act, 1934 and the Evidence Act, 1891, for keeping the books of accounts in electronic forms.
Features of the Information Technology Act, 2000
The features of this act are the following:-
- The act gives legal validity to all the contracts made through secure electronic channels.
- It gives legal recognition to digital signatures.
- An appeal can be made only in High Court against the order of the Cyber Regulatory Appellant Tribunal.
- There are security measures for electronic records and digital signatures.
- The act finalizes the procedure for the appointment of adjudicating officer for holding inquiries.
- There is a provision for establishing a Cyber Regulatory Appellant Tribunal.
- The function of the tribunal is to handle all the appeals which are made against the order of the Controller or Adjudicating Officer.
- Under the act, there will be use of asymmetric cryptosystem and hash function for Digital Signatures.
- A controller is appointed who acts as a depository of all the digital signatures. The controller is known as Controller of Certifying Authorities (CCA).
- This act is also applicable to the offences or contraventions which are committed outside India.
- One of the unique features of the Act is that the senior police officers and other officers can enter a public place and search and arrest without warrant.
Non-Applicability of the Act
The non-applicability of the Act is given in Section 1 (4) of the Information Technology Act, 2000. As per Section 1 (4) of the IT Act, 2000, the act is not applicable in the following documents:-
- Execution of power of attorney.
- Creation of trust.
- Execution of will (including any testamentary disposition by whatever name called).
- Execution of negotiable instrument.
- Contract for sale of conveyance of immovable property or any interest in such property.
- Any other documents or class of documents or transactions which may be notified by the Central Government in the official Gazette.
Major Amendments in Information Technology Act, 2000
- In 2008, a major amendment was made in IT Act, wherein Section 66A was introduced, which penalized sending “offensive messages”.
- The 2008 amendment also introduced Section 69 which gave authorities “interception or monitoring or decryption of any information through any computer resource”.
- Additional provisions were also introduced which addressed pornography, child porn, cyber terrorism and voyeurism as cyber crime.
- The amendment of 2008 increased the investigating powers of police.
- The 2008 amendment focused on security of electronic data and focused also on information security.
- The amendment act of 2008 made the provision that the owner of the given IP address will be held responsible for content accessed or distributed through it.
- Section 69 of the amendment was criticized by many experts as it gave many powers to the State making it Surveillance State.
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