Conspiracy to abort Information Technology Act
amendments.. advantage BJP
The recent noises being made in the Indian media after
ASSOCHAM orchestrated a campaign on the amendments proposed to ITA 2000
indicate a conspiracy by vested interests to revert the law to an
Intermediary friendly form.
I propose to address some of the objections that
ASSOCHAM has cited to suggest that the amendments should be aborted and
why I consider them as untenable.
The objections raised by ASSOCHAM and a few others who
have joined the chorus now to demand the withdrawal of the Bill are as
1. The amendment bill was passed without debate in
2. Amendments make ITA 2000 criminal friendly and
3. Amendments donot address “Data Protection”
requirements of the industry.
4. Amendments donot address issues such as “Spam”
I would like to clarify that Naavi.org was one of the
first to object to the passage of the amendment bill without adequate
debate in the Parliament. However, after the contents of the amendments
have been made public, Naavi.org was quick to focus on the positive
features of the amendment and its “Security Orientation” and come to the
conclusion that the amendments are good for the Country at the present
point of time. Naavi.org being a Netizen Rights Conscience keeper, has
been also suggesting that the security orientation of the amendments
creates certain powers at different levels of the Government including
the Police which are amenable for abuse and hence there is a need for a
“Netizen Protection Commission” or its equivalent.
In order to appreciate why Naavi.org considers the
ASSOCHAM led campaign a “Conspiracy” it is necessary to place the
following facts before the public.
1. After the Section 67 case filed on Baazee.com in
2004, a campaign was started in the media that ITA 2000 was faulty.
Many of the IT Company chiefs without understanding the concept of
Vicarious liability which is part of every law in India, jumped in to
sugest that the law required amendments to make intermediaries immune
from liability arising out of Cyber Crimes committed in their network.
2. Born out of such an unethical objective, the
“Expert Committee” then formed which consisted of mainly powerful
portal lobby, came up with recommendations which made people like Naavi
realise that there is an attempt to dilute the laws to bail out
intermediaries from liabilities even if in the process it made the laws
criminal friendly. (Ref articles-2005 at:
http://www.naavi.org/naavi_comments_itaa/index.htm ). Hence after
August 2005, Naavi.org took up a mission to highlight the unfairness of
the proposed amendments which were also accepted by the Ministry and
presented as a Bill through Information Technology Act amendment bill
3.Thanks to the efforts of the Nikhil Kumar who
chaired the Parliamentary Standing committee, the Bill of 2006 was
returned for changes to the department and Information technology
Amendment Bill 2008 to amend the Bill of 2006 was introduced in the
current Parliament on December 15th and passed on December 24th. It was
then sent to the President for assent. There are conflicting
reports about whether the assent has been received or not. After the
Presidential assent, the Minsitry of Communications and Information
technology has to notify the act along with the necessary rules and can
hold up the implementation for some time.
4. While it is not easy to conceive that the Bill
may be aborted at this stage, some enthusiasts in Delhi appear to
believe in the clout of ASSOCHAM that the Act may still be put in cold
storage and to support such an action are conspiring with planted
stories in the media misleading the public that the “Amendments will
introduce a weak Cyber law in the country”, “It will be criminal
friendly”, “There is no data protection” etc. (refer Business Standard
IT Amendment soft on Cyber Criminals )
I don’t know how ASSOCHAM can come to the conclusion
that the amendments are criminal friendly, soft and lacks provision for
data protection or Spam.
The facts are as follows:
1.The amendment addresses data protection under
Sections 43A and 72A. 43A provides unlimited liability for data breach
and 72A provides for 3 year imprisonment.
2. The amendment addresses Spam under Section 66A
along with Phishing,
3. The amendment introduces life term for cyber
terrorism. The cyber terrorism acts include DDOS,Hacking,Virus
introduction with intent to strike terror and adversely affecting
critical IT infrastructure as well as “Conspiracy” to commit a
4. The amendment introduces punishments for child
pornography,video voyeurism, receiving stolen computer, maintenance of
data for specific periods by intermediaries, etc.
The number of sections dealing with offences has more than doubled. All
most all offences are cognizable. Govt agencies now have powers to
intercept, monitor,decrypt, block access and demand traffic data from
The only dilution is in introduction of pre conditions
for application of Section 66 (dishonesty and fraudulent intention) and
making the offences compoundable. These are not sufficient reasons to
call the amendments weak.
If some persons are calling this amendments “Weak
Cyber Laws”, perhaps there is a need to examine if there are any other
motives behind the move.
The lobby that wanted an “Intermediary friendly laws”
and had successfully manipulated an “Expert Committee Recommendation” and
“ITA amendment Bill 2006″ were frustrated by the Parliamentary Standing
Committee under MP Nikhil Kumar . This lobby is doing its best to reverse
the developments. Media should see through this game and ensure that the
security oriented amendments are not sidelined for any reasons. If they
succeed, I think BJP will get a great boost to their election campaign
that the UPA government developed cold feet in introducing strong
legislation to prevent Cyber Crimes.
Those who want to challenge this view may kindly visit
www.naavi.org, peruse the amendments,
compare it section by section with the present as well as the 2005 and
2006 versions of amendments proposed and rejected and then come to their