USA is a modern society compared to India. It is therefore natural to expect that Indian laws of online obscenity should be stricter than USA. But some of the recent developments appear to suggest that while USA is moving towards greater restrictions of the web media, India is moving towards more permissive ness. Have the two countries crossed each other already?..
It appears to be so.. at least with regard to the fixing of responsibilities of intermediaries in respect of controlling depravation of our coming generation.
US is getting ready to pass a law titled “Deleting Online Predators Act” (DOPA) the effect of which is to bar certain websites from being accessed from Schools and Public Libraries receiving Government funding. The objective of this is mainly to protect Children. On the other hand,  India so far has considered obscenity on the Internet punishable whether the victim is an adult or a child.
However things are set to change in India. Under the proposed amendments to Information Technology Act 2000, that is being put up in the Parliament shortly for consideration,  a distinction is being made between child pornography and adult pornography and  reducing the punishments in case of “Obscenity”  (with higher financial penalty in case of Child Pornography).
It is to be noted that under the amendments, the “Intermediary” such as the library or school ( nor a Cyber Café or an ISP) would be affected by the provisions of the law as indicated by the following:

Present Provisions as per ITA-2000 Proposed Provisions as per Amendments approved by the Cabinet committee and to be put up for the approval of the Parliament
Section 67: Publishing of information which is obscene in electronic form
Whoever publishes or transmits or causes to be published in the electronic form, any material which is lascivious or appeals to the prurient interest or if  its effect is such as to tend to deprave and corrupt persons who are likely, having regard to all relevant circumstances, to read, see or hear the matter contained or embodied in it, shall be punished on first conviction with imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to five years and with fine which may extend to one lakh rupees and in the event of a second or subsequent conviction with imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to ten years and also with fine which may extend to two lakh rupees.
67. Publishing  in electronic form of information which is obscene in electronic form
(1)   Save as provided in this Act under Section 79 which exempts intermediaries from liability in certain cases, whoever publishes or transmits or causes to be published in the electronic form, any material which is lascivious or appeals to the prurient interest or if its effect is such as to tend to deprave and corrupt persons who are likely, having regard to all relevant circumstances, to read, see or hear the matter contained or embodied in it, shall be punished on first conviction with imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to five two years and with fine which may extend to one five lakh rupees and in the event of a second or subsequent conviction with imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to ten five years and also with fine which may extend to ten lakh rupees. 
(2) Whoever intentionally and knowingly publishes or transmits through electronic form any material which relates to child pornography, shall be punished with imprisonment for a term not less than three years and with a fine which may extend to ten lakh rupees and in the event of a second or subsequent conviction with imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to seven years and also with fine which may extend to ten lakh rupees. 
 Explanation: – For the purposes of this section “child pornography” means material that features a child engaged in sexually explicit conduct.
Exception – This sub-section (1) does not extent to  
(a) any book, pamphlet, paper, writing, drawing, painting, representation or figure in electronic form – 
(i) the publication of which is proved to be justified as being for the public good on the ground that such book, pamphlet, paper, writing, drawing, painting, representation or figure is in the interest of science, literature, art or learning or other objects of general concern, or
(ii)    which is kept or used bon fide for religious purposes; 

Since neither Cyber Stalking nor Pedophile activities are separately covered by the Indian legislation, it appears that the Indian act is less stringent than the US DOPA.

Naavi

( Vijayashankar )

http://www.naavi.org

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