What seems to be lonely battle has become a collective war. The precursor and axis of the protest against the “Unconstitutional” Information Technology Amendment Act, 2008 (Act, 2008) can be safely attributed to Mr. Praveen Dalal, Managing Partner of Perry4Law and the leading Techno-Legal Expert of India. Fortunately, the Act, 2008 has not been “Notified” yet and there seems to be very little chances of the same.
Interestingly, other cyber law experts have also joined the debate and openly supported Mr. Praveen Dalal regarding his stand on the proposed amendments. Concerns regarding excessive e-surveillance without proper safeguards received maximum support.
Now even the media has criticised the proposed amendments. Business Standard reports that regulation of websites in the manner proposed by the rules to the amendment is unpractical. It maintains that “The government-appointed officers, not below the rank of a joint secretary, will determine the nature of the offence and levy a penalty. But government officers are not judicial officers. Are they qualified to define, for instance, what goes against ‘friendly relations with foreign states’ and what is ‘offensive’ content? In the offline world, it is judges who do the job, and the government has no power to (for instance) cancel a newspaper’s registration merely because it has criticised a friendly country (do we have any countries that are officially listed as unfriendly?). The potential for misuse is therefore obvious. Surely, a more nuanced approach to the issues posed by the Internet is in order, not the use of a hammer for every minor infringement”.
This piece of Business Standard has very accurately defined some of the problems with the proposed amendments and their rules. There are other issues as well which may open the floodgates of litigations and problems the moment Act 2008 is brought into force. However, the Government of India (GOI) is still a moot spectator to this absurd law making and rule formulation.
The first thing that the GOI must do is to “Drop” the proposed amendments and come up with better Information Technology Amendment Act, 2009 (Act, 2009) as soon as possible. Secondly, it would be a good idea to seek advice of Techno-Legal Experts this time before formulating the Act, 2009.