The much awaited details of the amendments to ITA 2000 passed by Loksabha on 22nd and Rajyasabha on 23rd of this month without any debate, has now come to the public domain. It is time to discuss the implications of the amendments and also the extent to which the Parliamentary standing committee’s recommendations have been incorporated in the new Bill.  Here is the first set of observations.

While a more detailed analysis will be made in due course, a quick glance at the proposals indicate that apart from retaining the changes proposed in the ITA 2000 amendment Bill 2006 which added a few new offences, the current bill which has been called the ITA 2000 amendment Bill 2008 which amends the amendment bill 2006 (which was never passed) proposes to add a few more offences.

One of the main additions is the defining of “Cyber Terrorism” as an offence for which life imprisonment has been prescribed.

The definition of the offence runs as under:

 

Section 66F: (1) Whoever,-

(A) with intent to threaten the unity, integrity, security or sovereignty of India or to strike terror in the people or any section of the people by-

(i) denying or cause the denial of access to any person authorised to access computer resource; or

(ii) attempting to penetrate or access a computer resource without authorisation or exceeding authorised access; or

(iii) introducing or causing to introduce any computer contaminant;

and by means of such conduct causes or likely to cause death or injuries to persons or damage to or destruction of property or disrupts or knowing that it is likely to cause damage or disruption of supplies or services essential to the life of the community or adversely affect the critical infrastructure specified under Section 70, or

(B) knowingly or intentionally penetrates or accesses a computer resource without authorization or exceeding authorised access, and by means of such conduct obtains access to information, data or computer database that is restricted for reasons of the security of the state or foreign relations or any restricted information data or computer data base with reasons to believe that such information, data or computer data base so obtained may be used to cause or likely to cause injury to the interests of the sovereignty and integrity of India, the security of the state, friendly relations with foreign states, public order, decency or morality or in relation to contempt of court, defamation or incitement to an offence or to the advantage of any foreign nation, group of individuals or otherwise,

commits the offence of Cyber Terrorism

(2) Whoever commits or conspires to commit cyber terrorism shall be punishable with imprisonment which may extend to imprisonment for life.

It may be observed that the first part of the definition is restricted to the cases linked to death or destruction of property. The definition is not explicit in covering virtual properties which needs to be implied. It also may not cover damage to private property (say defacement of non Government websites unless they fall under the categories of hospitals or other life saving services.)

The second part which directly affects “Information” is also not comprehensive enough to cover explicitly use of Internet for terror propaganda or terror financing etc. We may have to fall back on the UAPA (Unlawful activities prevention act) which was amended recently.

The definition therefore lacks imagination and appears to only cover what is already covered under UAPA and IPC.

Naavi of Naavi.org

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