Cyber Law of India faced many crucial challenges in the year 2015. The Information Technology Act 2000 (IT Act 2000) was enacted in the year 2000 and it was presumed that the IT Act 2000 would mature with the passage of time. However, the opposite happened in the year 2015 when the Supreme Court of India committed one of the biggest mistakes in the history of Indian Cyber Law. Further, on the Legislative front as well, the year 2015 did not see any development for the Indian Cyber Law. Overall, Cyber Law Developments in India in 2015 were both “Retrograde” and “Ill Conceived”.
Perry4Law Organisation (P4LO) has been providing Cyber Law Trends and Developments in India for long. Our readers and viewers may find the Cyber Law Developments for the year 2013 and 2014 here (PDF) and here respectively. In this work, Perry4Law Organisation (P4LO) is sharing the Cyber Law Developments that took place in the year 2015 in India. These are as follows:
(1) Cyber Law Due Diligence: Cyber Law Due Diligence (PDF) is well established in India. As per the IT Act 2000, all Digital Stakeholders are required to observe Cyber Law Due Diligence to avoid legal sanctions and Internet Intermediary Liability. Instead of Strengthening of Cyber Law Due Diligence, the Judgment of Supreme Court in Shreya Singhal v. Union of India (24th March 2015), Writ Petition (Criminal) No.167 Of 2012 (PDF) has done exactly opposite and made Indian Cyber Law Due Diligence weaker and ineffective. In fact, the Supreme Court of India has “Killed Cyber Law Due Diligence” in India to a great extent. Nevertheless, Cyber Law Due Diligence is still reqired for diverse purposes in India.
(2) Civil Liberties: The year 2015 proved “Really Bad” for Civil Liberties Protection in Indian Cyberspace. Narendra Modi Government and various State Government showed no regard to Privacy Rights of Indian Citizens and they continued to “Impose” Illegal and Unconstitutional Aadhaar for various Government Services like Digital Locker. Further, issues like Cyber Security of Aadhaar, Smart Cities Civil Liberties issues, etc were also ignored by Narendra Modi Government. However, the worst act of Narendra Modi Government and other State Governments is “Deliberate Contempt of Court” by not following the directions of Supreme Court of India that mandates that Aadhaar is “Not Compulsory” for Government Services. This attitude needs to be changed by Narendra Modi and other State Governments in the year 2016.
(3) Inadequate Cyber Law: Cyber Law of India remained ineffective and inadequate in the year 2015 as well. Neither Indian Government nor Indian Parliament showed any interest in strengthening of Indian Cyber Law. Perry4Law Organisation (P4LO) has made certain “Legal Representations” to the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO), Ministry of Home Affiars (MHA), Department of Electronics and Information Technology (DeitY) and Ministry of Information and Broadcasting in this regard. Fortunately, these Ministries have assured Perry4Law Organisation (P4LO) that our “Legal Representations” would be duly considered by them while making the “Amendments” in the IT Act 2000.
(4) Telegraph Law: Indian Telegraph Act is another legislation that required “Suitable Amendments“. As on date we have no Lawful and Constitutional Interception Law in India and E-Surveillance and Telephone Tapping is still done in an “Unconstitutional Manner“. The year 2015 did not brought any positive developments in this regard. We hope in the year 2016 Narendra Modi Government would work in the direction of formulating a Constitutional Interception Law for India.
(5) Digital India: Narendra Modi Government launched the Digital India Project in the year 2015. However, Digital India is not free from Critical Issues and Shortcomings. The chief among them are lack of Cyber Security Infrastructure and disregard to Civil Liberties aspects like Data Protection (PDF) and Privacy Protection. Naturally, Digital India Project is heading towards Rough Waters and Narendra Modi Government must think in this direction in the year 2016.
(6) Online Gambling: Online Gaming and Gambling Law of India was expected to be “Clarified” through a “Conclusive Ruling” from the Supreme Court of India in the year 2015. However, this did not happen as the Supreme Court of India “Refused to Clarify” in this regard. The Supreme Court refused to clarify regarding Legality of Online Rummy and Online Poker in India and this makes the websites managing Online Rummy and Online Poker vulnerable to punishment in the year 2016. Even the Central Government refused to give any opinion in this regard. Further, tax laws and liabilities for online Poker and Online Rummy websites is also not clear. The year 2016 may see some “Clarifications” in this regard from the Narendra Modi Government.
(7) Legality Of Bitcoins In India: The year 2015 did not see any clarity regarding Legality of Bitcoin in India and Legality of Bitcoin is still doubtful in India. In fact, the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) has “Cautioned“the Bitcoin Stakeholders against “Potential Risks” (PDF) of using Bitcoin in India. Thus, as on date use of Bitcoin in India is “Legally Risky“. In short, dealing in Bitcoins in India is still A “Grey Area” and it is not safe to consider it “Strictly Legal” though Indian Corporate is Lobbying for Regulated Digital Currency in India. The bottom line is that Bitcoin Websites and Owners must comply with Indian Laws to stay legal when it comes to use of Bitcoin in India.
(8) Cyber Breaches Insurance: The year 2015 was good as far as Cyber Insurance in India is concerned. Many Companies opted for Cyber Insurance Policies in India in 2015. These polices covered losses arising out of Cyber Threats and Cyber Crimes. However, Cyber Insurance Stakeholders in India are still not aware of the Techno Legal aspects of Cyber Insurance in India. This may give rise to potential disputes and litigations in the near future. We strongly recommend that Cyber Insurance Policies must comply with Techno Legal Requirements as prescribed by IT Act, 2000 and other Laws so that disputes can be minimised to maximum possible extent. It is the prime responsibility of Insurance Companies to draft the Cyber Insurance Agreements in proper and Techno Legal manner.
(9) Online Pharmacies: The year 2015 witnessed an increased interest in Online Pharmacies among the E-Commerce players and Healthcare Stakeholders. However, a dedicated Legal Framework for Online Pharmacies is still missing. Further, most of the Online Pharmacies operating in India are not at all complying with the Techno Legal requirements of Indian Laws.
(10) Cyber Law Obligations Of Directors/Companies: Cyber Law Obligations of Directors of Indian Companies is now well established in India. However, there is insignificant development in this regard at the Board of Directors level. There are very few Directors who are aware of fields like Cyber Law and Cyber Security and even fewer are those who comply with the same. The year 2016 would see an increased focus upon Cyber Law and Cyber Security Obligations of Directors of Indian Companies and their respective Companies.
Overall the year 2015 was not good for Cyber Law Developments in India and we expect better results from the year 2016. In order to do so successfully, the Narendra Modi Government must take “Pro Active Approach” towards concepts like Cyber Law and Cyber Security. At a time when Cyber Security Developments in India 2015 and potential Cyber Security Trends In India 2016 are showing “Negative Results”, it would be a “Big Challenge” for the Modi Government to manage these issues. Perry4Law Organisation (P4LO) wishes all the best to Modi Government in this regard with a commitment to help it in every possible manner.