The Information Technology Act (IT Act), is made applicable to whole country including UT of J&K after The Jammu and Kashmir Reorganisation Act, 2019. One of the reasons for its implementation appears to be the scope of cybernetics, which is transnational in nature but territorial in operation. The primary advantages of this are that it facilitates direct application of all satellite legislations on IT such as RTI and copyright legislations to J&K.
The internet has emerged as the most widely used medium for communication and source of digital empowerment and economic development. It allows people to access information from across the world. Furthermore, it acts as a boon for people lagging in the developmental race. The IT Act 2000 includes within its ambit electronic commerce, electronic communication, electronic data interchange, and cybercrime in India. It offers legal recognition for transactions carried out by e-commerce, e-banking, and e-governance, and is based on the UNCITRAL model law. The complexities of cyberspace have prompted various amendments in IT legislations, resulting in further developments. This law has brought some significant changes in Indian Penal Code, 1860, India Evidence Act, 1872, & RBI Act, 1940. In terms of cyber offence, violation, and remedies, the enforcement of the IT Act of 2000 has been the subject of litigation at both national and transnational levels.
Going by the trends, it is clear that this law has not succeeded in protecting data privacy and preventing abuse of internet which has resulted in increased cybercrimes in India and J&K, such as stalking, hacking, hijacking, harassment, pornography, obscenity, defamation, assault threat, scam, trolling, morphing, spoofing and cyber phishing. However, the Act has some positive aspects as well which include legal recognition of electronic commerce & transactions. Prior to IT Act, there was neither legal infrastructure to regulate online commercial transactions nor a legal redressal mechanism for cybercrimes. E-mail was also not accepted as legal form of communication. Enactment of IT Act changed all this. It provided a complaint mechanism related to technological offences, which are punishable & are dealt with by cyber police and give privacy to personal data and information.
J&K IT/ITeS POLICY 2020: Information Technology policy for the UT of J&K was adopted by Government Order No: 41JK-ITD of 2020. Its preamble is constructive in terms of physical infrastructure growth, as well as enhancing citizens’ quality of life and infrastructure. The policy aims for social equity to improve health care, empowering women, and developing rural & tribal areas. Some of the prominent objectives of the policy are to increase digital literacy, IT infrastructure, tourism, safe cyberspace for all citizens, and creating employment. Besides this, the policy attempts to develop IT industry to support electronic governance initiatives to attract investment in J&K.
Prevalence of Cyber Crime: In today’s world, everybody has unrestricted access to the internet and internet-connected appliances. Online shopping, money transfer, paying taxes, paying bills, sharing of information reliant on internet is rapidly rising. Technology is encompassing every aspect of life. On the one hand life becomes easy but on the other hand it results in increase in cybercrimes. The IT Act, however, does not define the word “cybercrime.” It is commonly described as an illegal activity carried out with the aid of a computer and internet. Similarly, the National Crime Records Bureau defines cyber criminals as persons who perform cybercrimes to earn money, to become famous, to just have fun, to sexually exploit someone, to blackmail someone, for developing own business, for selling illegal contraband, and so on. Even though there are antivirus software, firewalls and other technological protection of data, information and computer networks, yet the cybercrimes is increasing. Even experienced users of information technology are not attentive to cyber victimisation. The prominent risk of cybercrime needs technical & legal knowledge amongst users of applications, tools & technology. In addition to cybercrime, there is also misuse of privacy & personal data of individuals which is in clear violation of Article 21 of the Constitution of India.
Jammu and Kashmir, information Technology (Electronic Service Delivery) Rules, 2013: Various rules have been framed in Jammu and Kashmir for enhancing digital democracy and empowerment. The Jammu and Kashmir Information Technology (Electronic Service Delivery) Rules, 2013, are one set of such rules. These are approved by application of the powers conferred by Section 90 read with Sections 6 and 6A of the IT Act, 2000, for the purpose of efficient delivery of electronic service through electronically enabled kiosks or some other mechanism for electronic service delivery.
Information Technology & Right to Information Laws: RTI Act, 2005, made right to secrecy an exception by changing the discourse of the colonial law named as Official Secrets Act, 1893. The RTI Act, 2005, casts obligation on public authorities to facilitate right to information to all and casts duty upon the authorities to maintain all records duly indexed and catalogued which facilitates open access to records of public authority on different systems all over states. Section 6(1) says, ” The applicant shall make a request in writing or through electronic means in English or Hindi accompanying such fee as may be prescribed. Information is to be provided in the printed or in any electronic format.” Every public authority suo motu has to take steps to make available information to the public at consistent intervals through internet.
Conclusion: IT Act is not a comprehensive code to deal with all cybercrimes, therefore, need of the hour is to incorporate new provisions in IT Act, 2000, as well as new rules and regulations to safeguard electronic communications, electronic devices & transactions. In each district of J&K a cyber-cell should be established to handle cyber cases and cyber criminals. Cyber police should be given proper training and knowledge to investigate the emergent challenge of cybercrime & cyber criminals. Generally, people don’t register complaints either due to lack of knowledge or due to fear of disclosing their identity, hence, need of the hour is that concerned authorities should regularly post information of emerging cybercrimes and safety tips to safeguard & enhance their privacy. In addition to these, awareness programmes, seminars, symposiums, workshops & conferences should be organised by professionals having experience about cyber law and handling cyber criminals.
—The writer is a research scholar at Aligarh Muslim University. [email protected]