The Cyber Society of India (CySI), a non-profit organisation, has expressed its reservations on the proposed amendments to the IT Act of 2000. Its representatives stated that in an attempt to shift from the regulatory role of being an ‘enforcer’ to that of an ‘enabler’, the government had diluted the Act.
“Several issues have been left out. The powers to enforce the Act have been taken away and many key areas have been left untouched,” said R Ramamurthy, Executive Chairman, CySI.
The society shared with the media the recommendations it had made to the Informationa Technology Ministry. Among the recommendations were a re-look at the definition of ‘computer’ to include several electronic devices with or without a storage device like mobile phones.
It also urged the ministry to amend the Negotiable Instruments Act to deal with e-cheques, e-payments and the like, or to bring them under the purview of the IT Act. The issue of ‘spamming’, should also be dealt with, it was contended.
In the proposed amendments, the government treated cyber cafes as intermediaries, without the responsibility relating to misuse of the cafes, contended Naavi, Cyber Law Consultant.
He said, “Some of the omissions have not taken into account the growth of the industry. On cyber cafes, the responsibility of the intermediary to have sufficient evidence in the enforcement of law has been diluted. After this Act, the police cannot take any action.”
‘Blogging’ should have been included in the Act, said the representatives. In its recommendations, CySI said, “The Act should also clarify the rights, obligations and liabilities of bloggers, accepting blogging as an innovative and necessary application of Internet technology.”
It also indicated the need to deal with the legal issues on m-commerce and on the period of time required for retention of electronic records.
Rajendran, from the banking fraternity, and Treasurer, CySI, said, “When you have a regulatory mechanism like TRAI for all cellular companies, there is a need to have some kind of regulation for all cyber transactions also. We expect the government to play a vital role. It will send out the right signals to NRIs and foreign investors also.”
Comparing the stringent regulations attempted in China, Prasanna J, Joint Secretary and Director, CySi, and Head, Security Consulting Division, K7 Computing, said, “In China, they have a set of seven to eight firewalls, which are essentially gateways monitored by the government. Even with regulations, governments cannot play too much of a role because the medium itself is so dynamic. There have been reports of people circumventing these guidelines even there.”
Among other suggestions is a jury-type hearing process for cyber crimes, given that there are enough people with know-how on cyber laws to be drawn from. It was also suggested that the police be adequately empowered to prosecute offenders.