Cyber law is the part of the overall legal system that deals with the Internet, cyberspace, and their respective legal issues. Cyber law covers a fairly broad area, encompassing several subtopics including freedom of expression, access to and usage of the Internet, and online privacy. Generically, cyber law is referred to as the Law of the Internet.
Like any law, a cyber law is created to help protect people and organizations on the Internet from malicious people on the Internet and help maintain order. If someone breaks a cyber law or rule, it allows another person or organization to take action against that person or have them sentenced to a punishment.
Cyber law encompasses laws relating to:
- Cyber crimes
- Electronic and digital signatures
- Intellectual property
- Data protection and privacy
Cyber space includes computers, networks, softwares, data storage devices (such as hard disks, USB disks etc), the internet, websites, emails and even electronic devices such as cell phones, ATM machines etc.
- Any crime with the help of computer and telecommunication technology.
- Any crime where either the computer is used as an object or subject.
Categories of Cyber Crime
- Cybercrimes against persons
- Cybercrimes against property
- Cybercrimes against government
- Against a Person
- Cyber stalking
- Loss of Privacy
- Transmission of Obscene Material
- Harassment with the use of computer
- Against Property
- Unauthorized Computer Trespassing
- Computer vandalism
- Transmission of harmful programmes
- Siphoning of funds from financial institutions
- Stealing secret information & data
- Against Government
- Hacking of Government websites
- Cyber Extortion
- Cyber Terrorism
- Computer Viruses
Some Other Crimes
- Logic Bombs
- Virus, worms, Trojan Horse
- E-Mail Bombing
- E-Mail abuse etc.
Need For Cyber Law
In today’s techno-savvy environment, the world is becoming more and more digitally sophisticated and so are the crimes. Internet was initially developed as a research and information sharing tool and was in an unregulated manner. As the time passed by it became more transactional with e-business, e-commerce, e-governance and e-procurement etc. All legal issues related to internet crime are dealt with through cyber laws. As the number of internet users is on the rise, the need for cyber laws and their application has also gathered great momentum.
In today’s highly digitalized world, almost everyone is affected by cyber law.
- Almost all transactions in shares are in demat form.
- Almost all companies extensively depend upon their computer networks and keep their valuable data in electronic form.
- Government forms including income tax returns, company law forms etc. are now filled in electronic form.
- Consumers are increasingly using credit/debit cards for shopping.
- Most people are using email, phones and SMS messages for communication.
- Even in non-cybercrime cases, important evidence is found in computers/cell phones eg: in cases of murder, divorce, kidnapping, tax evasion, organized crime, terrorist operations, counterfeit currency etc.
- Cybercrime cases such as online banking frauds, online share trading fraud, source code theft, credit card fraud, tax evasion, virus attacks, cyber sabotage, phishing attacks, email hijacking, denial of service, hacking, pornography etc. are becoming common.
- Digital signatures and e-contracts are fast replacing conventional method of transacting business.
Cyber Laws in India
In India, cyber laws are contained in the Information Technology Act, 2000 (IT Act) which came into force on October 17, 2000. The main purpose of the Act is to provide legal recognition to electronic commerce and to facilitate filing of electronic records with the Government.
The existing laws of India, even with the most compassionate and liberal interpretation could not be interpreted in the light of the emergency cyberspace, to include all aspects relating to different activities in cyberspace. In fact, the practical experience and the wisdom of judgement found that it shall not be without major threats and pitfalls, if the existing laws were to be interpreted in the scenario of emerging cyberspace, without enacting new cyber laws. Hence, the need for enactment of relevant cyber laws.
None of the existing laws gave any legal validity or sanction to the activities in Cyberspace. For example, the Net is used by a large majority of users for email. Yet till today, email id not legal in our country. There is no law in the country, which gives legal validity, and sanction to email. Courts and judiciary in our country have been reluctant to grant judicial recognition to the legality of email in the absence of any specific law having been enacted by the Parliament. As such the need has arisen for Cyber law.
World and Cyber Laws
- The Great firewall of China monitors every moment in cyber space and protect to publish any offensive content.
- China have a hold on every content which is harmful of dangerous for the government of China.
- Brazil is considered world’s biggest airport for Hackers.
- Iran is also a dangerous country for the Netizens. He also has a Crime Police unit for crime in Cyber Space.
Importance of Cyber Laws
- We are living in highly digitalized world.
- All companies depend upon their computer networks and keep their valuable data in electronic form.
- Government forms including income tax returns, company law forms etc are now filled in electronic form.
- Consumers are increasingly using credit cards for shopping.
- Most people are using email, cell phones and SMS messages for communication.
- Even in non-cybercrime cases, important evidence is found in computers/ cell phones e.g. in cases of divorce, murder, kidnapping, organized crime, terrorist operations, counterfeit currency etc.
- Since it touches all the aspects of transactions and activities on and concerning the Internet, the World Wide Web and Cyberspace therefore Cyber law is extremely important.
When the emphasis was on the need for cyber law or cybersecurity laws, then, it was imperative to implement an IT law in India. Thus, the Information Technology Act, 2000, or also known as the Indian Cyber Act or the Internet Law came to force in India. Since the enactment, the Indian Internet Laws were drafted to bring in view all the electronic records and online/electronic activities to legal recognition. The IT Act also addresses the important issues of security, which are critical to the success of electronic transactions. The Internet Laws in India not only validates digital signatures but also provides for how authentication of the documents, which has been accepted and generated by using the digital signatures, can be done.
As IT Act is a cybersecurity law introduced to secure cyberspace, the Information Technology Law was amended under;
- the Indian Penal Code
- the Indian Evidence Act
- the Banker’s Book Evidence Act
- the Reserve Bank of India
The prime focus of cyber law in India is to prevent:
- computer crime
- forgery of electronic data & record in e-commerce
- electronic transaction
IT Act, 2000 went through amendments in the year 2008. These were made in light of the laws on cybercrime IT Act, 2000 by way of the IT Act, 2008. They were enforced at the beginning of 2009 to strengthen the cybersecurity laws. Modifications in the Information Technology Act, 2008 included the change in the definition of some terms such as communication devices. The amendment for the definition of communication device was to include:
- The current use
- To validate the digital signature
- To make the IP address owner accountable
- Impose liability for data breaches