According to a report in Economic Times today it appears that the Ministry of Information Technology (MeitY) has circulated a note to select stake holders seeking their advise on the possible amendments to be made to Information Technology Act 2000, last amended in 2008.
The stated objetive of the exercise is to update the law in view of the technological advances in Social Media, E-Commerce, Cyber Crime and Digital Payments. Following the request from MeitY, the DPIIT (Department for promotion of Industry and Internal Trade) headed by Pr Piyush Goyal as minister and Mr Anuj Gupta as OSD, is reported to have written to industry bodies for feedback. NASSCOM, CII, FICCI and ASSOCHAM appears to have received the request.
The decision of the MeitY to take up this issue amidst the Corona lockdown conditions as a priority looks a bit strange.
In 2017, the MeitY had set up an expert Committee under the chairmanship of Mr T.K.Vishwanathan. Subsequently, no official report came out though a small part of its suggestions came out as a “Leak”. Subsequently, no action was initiated and the committee was killed.
In 2018, MeitY issued a notification under Section 69 identifying 10 agencies as notified agencies under the section as against no such designation earlier. When un-informed anti Government critics raised a hue and cry, MeitY was unable to defend the issue of the notification. Similarly, the Intermediary Guidelines were sought to be amended
Then again the administrative notification under Section 79 (Intermediary Guidelines) were sought to be amended. Naavi.org had also placed suggestions in this regard.Again the notification was objected by a set of Delhi based lawyers and the MeitY dropped the guidelines.
Even when Section 66A was challenged in the Supreme Court, the MeiTy failed to respond effectively and let the section be scrapped instead of being read down.
With such a dismal performance in the past, MeitY has demonstrated that it has no commitment to bring about necessary changes when it was required and possible and preferred to procrastinate.
Now MeitY is sitting on the PDPA which from being PDPA 2018 became PDPA 2019 and could become PDPA 2020. Instead of focussing on the passage of this Act, MeitY is inviting another set of suggestions to amend the ITA 2000/8 as if it is a diversion to delay the PDPA further under the excuse “We are trying to bring a comprehensive Cyber Law and PDPA can be taken later”.
In the last one month when there was a lock down, MeitY should have pushed for the JPC to conduct a virtual meeting by setting up adequate facilities. MeitY should have also ensured that their Adjudicators at least are active with holding hearings through Video conferencing.
Instead of doing any such productive efforts, MeitY is now opening a Pandora’s box of amending ITA 2000.
It therefore appears that there should be some thing more to this move than what is apparent…. There has to be some vested interests pushing MeitY to make some changes urgently.
What could be the reason?….
(To be continued)