According to a statement by the union IT secretary, the amendments to ITA 2000 may be notified within a month.

 The Act was passed in the Parliament in December 2008, Presidential assent was given in February 5, and still the date of effectiveness has not been notified. The history of the amendments indicates that there must be vested business and political interests working at delaying the process of notification and probably engineer a dilution of some of its provisions on security. Report in Rediff.com

While this statement is welcome, it is necessary to reflect if the notification actually required so much of time.

Over the past 6 months, the Ministry of Information Technology has been sitting on the amendment act unable to notify even that part of the Act which did not require drafting of rules. For example, many of the offences sections such as Sections 66A, (covering cyber stalking, Phishing etc) 66B (covering theft of mobile phones), 66C and 66D (covering impersonation), 66E (video voyeurism), 66F( Cyber Terrorism), 67A and 67B (Child Pornography) as well as several other sections did not require fresh rules to be framed. It is difficult to understand what prevented the notification of the Act in this respect immediately after February 5th when the presidential assent was provided.

The draft rules on Sections 67C, 69, 69A,69B as well as some other sections pertaining to CRAT have also been available now for nearly two months and have been vetted by industry circles and DSCI. They also could have been notified long time back. It appears that the department is stuck with rules to be framed under Section 79 since this may have an impact on intermediaries.

All those who have followed the history of these amendments are aware of the influence of vested interests in escaping “Due Diligence” responsibilities. The most visible intermediary who was responsible for even initiating the amendment process itself to dilute the then existing provisions was baazee.com (now ebay.in). Fortunately, the amendments were saved in the last minute by the Nikhil Kumar Parliamentary committee and were drafted with some emphasis on security. This necessitated greater responsibility for Intermediaries and the draded “Due Diligence” remained in the statute along with “Reasonable Security Practices” to be notified. 

The unreasonable delay in notification has already given room for speculation that there must be some arm twisting going on in the drafting of the rules so that “Intermediaries” so that intermediaries are provided some freedom to “Do Business without Responsibility”. In the meantime Police are already booking cases under the new provisions (Refer Case against Air India official reportedly booked under Section 66 C and 66D of ITA 2008) which when questioned in the Courts would look ackward. Many in India are now under the impression that “Cyber Terrorism” is covered under law. The department must realize that the delay in notification has been providing a greater leeway to Cyber Terrorists.

Sooner the department completes the notification, better it is for the Indian Digital Society. On the Digital Society day this year (17th October 2009) when ITA 2000 would have completed 9 years of existence, we hope ITA 2008 would be operative.

If the notification is delayed beyond 17th October 2009, Naavi.org and Digital Society Foundation is contemplating  starting a nationwide campaign against the delay and exploring the possible reasons therefor through RTI and other means.

Naavi

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