Recently two judgements were reported from abroad one on a Canadian Court considering the Emoji Thumbs up as a digital signature, another where a victim of an identity theft was adjudged guilty of Trademark infringement. To this I would like to add a Supreme Court reference on Crypto Currency related crimes. I would like to place some comments on all these three Court incidents for better clarity of where the Judiciary is heading.
In the Canadian Case a farmer replied to a message with a thumbs up emoji and the Court held that it was an agreement to a sale contract and ordered the farmer to pay $61442 as compensation for default.
Some time back the Madras High Court in the case of S V Shekar case had expressed an opinion that “Forwarding” a message in social media is equivalent to endorsing the content of the message.
This kind of view was also expressed by the Supreme Court in the Shreya Singhal case where it accepted that “Clicking the Like button” on the FaceBook was equivalent to endorsing the message and hence the Police were right in arresting the Palghar girls but the law was wrong. (Section 66A was considered wrong and not the action of the Police arresting the girls for clicking the like button).
There has also been an earlier instance of a Court (probably in HP) which considered a whatsApp message as an adequate notice and “Blue Tick” as an acknowledgement.
In all these cases the Judges were wrong since there should be a “Meeting of Minds” when some action is to be construed as a contractual or malicious action. The judges were more interested in showcasing their expertise in IT. Judgements in US which use ChatGPT to come to judicial decisions also fall into this category of “TRP” oriented judgements and has to be condemned by right thinking persons in the society.
While we object to children being addicted to Google and forgetting their human strengths, these judges are showing their addiction and abject surrender to technology, abdicating their judicial responsibilities.
The Second instance was regarding the Australian Woman who was convicted ex-parte by the US Courts for trademark violation. The lady, Ms Luke was a victim of a hacker who stole her password for Paypal and used the account for collecting fraud proceeds. Adidas and National Basketball association filed cases claiming damages and damages of $293000 and $1.5 million were awarded against the lady in favour of NBA and Adidas respectively. The Courts gave this judgement against an Australian Citizen and as an ex-parte judgement.
I wonder whether it is possible to respect Courts with such judgements.
Today’s Hindustan Times reports that in a case the Supreme Court has questioned the Government why there is still no law on Crypto and why a separate investigation agency is not created for Crypto offences.
While it has become a habit for the Supreme Court to make comments for the Press to report in headlines particularly if the comment is against the Government, it must be noted that it was the Supreme Court which prevented the Union Government from making a suitable legislation by its judgement on a RBI circular.
Readers of Naavi.org are aware of the fight it has carried on against Bitcoins and highlighting the “Bollywood Judgement” of the Supreme Court. In this judgement, the Supreme Court came down heavily on the RBI for issuing a letter restricting the Crypto Exchanges from dealing with Indian Banks. The Supreme Court gave a clear indication that it was supporting the Bitcoin and wanted to give the exchanges time to continue their activities of cheating the public. This had such a chilling effect on the RBI and the Government that there is a complete silence on the legislation of private crypto currencies.
The Supreme Court is directly responsible for all the losses the innocent Crypto users are suffering today out of crimes involving Crypto exchanges. Shedding crocodile tears today is hypocritical.
I wish the Courts everywhere display a greater sense of responsibility when it comes to the use of technology. Already “Fraud GPT” malicious chatbot is available for sale in darkweb and if Supreme Court has identified the need for a separate investigating agency for Crypto Crimes, they need to also suggest a separate investigating agency for AI crimes.
Courts should nudge the Government for appropriate legislation on AI and emerging technology rather than passing caustic remarks for the benefit of the news agencies to report with eye catching headlines.