The year 2013 ended with an intense debate on Bitcoins the virtual currency system that caused lot of ripples in the market. over the last one month, Naavi.org has been full of discussions on Bitcoin to the extent that discussions on other aspects of Cyber Law actually receded to the background.
However if we try to trace the developments on Cyber Law in India during the last year, the following points emerge.
The controversy on Sec 66A continued during the year ending with a direction from the ministry of communications and information technology that no arrests should be made without the permission of higher officials in the department. Though the reference in the Supreme Court on the constitutional validity of Section 66A is still pending, there has not been any adverse news about the misuse of Section 66A.
Another issue that on which lot of activity took place but remained unresolved through out the year was the status of Cyber Judiciary in Karnataka. After the December 27, 2011 when the then adjudicator gave out a judicial verdict holding that a “Company” can either be the complainant or an accused under Section 43 of ITA 2000/8, the undersigned has been fighting to get the order reversed. Though the next IT Secretary briefly reopened the case, Axis Bank managed to silence him with a vacation judge’s order of the Karnataka High Court. The Cyber Appellate Tribunal has registered the appeal but has no chair person to conduct proceedings since our Ministry in the center is not interested in appointing anybody but a chosen person who is not acceptable to the Chief justice of India. The Chief Ministers of the State are not concerned that the net effect of this development is that a cyber criminal cannot be prosecuted in Karnataka for most of the violations. Recently a writ has been filed by an advocate in Karnataka High Court to resolve the issue. Probably we may find a solution one way or the other for this imbroglio in 2014.
In comparison, the Maharashtra adjudicator Mr Rajesh Agarwal was very active through out the year and decided on scores of cases.
During the year the Exporters and Importers in India were specifically targetted with an e-mail based attack where the money due to be paid out to a designated business contact abroad or receivable from such a business contact was diverted to fraudster’s accounts. The amounts involved were huge and in most cases the losses have not been recovered since the fraudster is abroad.
Naavi continued his efforts on campaigning for better safety of E Banking and conducted workshops at RBI as well as some Banks. During the year RBI also announced the possibility of new Banking licenses to be announced and Naavi has been bringing to the attention of RBI that the technology dependence of Banks is on the increase and it is time to make Cyber Crime Insurance mandatory at least for the new banking licencees.
During the year RBI also tried to issue new regulations which would “Dis-Incentivize” the use of cheques and force public to resort to E Banking. Naavi conducted an intense campaign against the proposal which subsequently did not see the light of the day during the year. Hopefully the proposal has been dropped.
Finally during the end of the year the Global Bitcoin conference that was held in Bangalore on December 15 2013 focussed the attention of the entire country on the phenomenon of Cryptocoins. However the publicity attracted adverse attention of the regulators and Enforcement Directorate and Income Tax authorities raided a number of Bitcoin operators in Ahmedabad and Tumkur and launched some enquiries. The full impact of this development will pay out in the next year and may have a huge impact on the Netizens.
The above is just a glimpse of some of the developments and I invite those who are interested to know the details to explore the site further.
In the meantime Naavi.org wishes all its readers a Happy and prosperous New Year.