‘IT Act outdated, needs changes due to new tech’

Sunil Pradhan
Wednesday, 2 January 2019

Speaking on low conviction rate, cyber expert Harold D’costa said there is a need for good tribunals. “Also, there is a need for making these offences non-bailable with higher penalties, so that people hesitate to get involved in such crimes,” D’costa added.

PUNE: With the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology inviting comments on new draft guidelines for intermediaries to bring in changes in the Information Technology Act, cyber experts have pointed to the need for massive changes in the Act to handle the drawbacks of the rapidly changing technology. Experts said that information technology (IT) has several drawbacks which should be handled by the law to prevent damage in the society. 

While the IT Act came into existence in 2000, there were amendments in 2008. Despite rapid changes in technology and its repercussions, the IT Act has hardly changed over the last decade. Moreover, the implementation of the Act remains a challenge with the changing technology. While the Maharashtra government has decided to take steps to assist the Police Department in handling the rise in cybercrime cases, the detection rate and conviction rate in such cases continue to remain low, hinting at the need for strong measures to curb such crimes.

Experts pointed out that in the last 10 years, social media applications have increased and computer technology has permeated to the remotest part of the city. 

Speaking on the need for changes in the IT Act, cyber expert Anil Raj of Cybervault Security Solutions Pvt Ltd said, “Changes in the Act are certainly a welcome move. We have observed that although the rate of cybercrime has dramatically increased, there is an increase in variety too. After social media crimes, people are now getting scammed in online shopping frauds,” he said.

“We have Artificial Intelligence, Cloud Computing and Internet of Things coming into the picture. The cyber network has increased and there is a chance of vulnerability to be exploited by fraudsters and so the Act should have more changes so that there are no legal loopholes,” added Raj.

Speaking on low conviction rate, cyber expert Harold D’costa said there is a need for good tribunals. “Also, there is a need for making these offences non-bailable with higher penalties, so that people hesitate to get involved in such crimes,” D’costa added.

A look into the data shared by CERT-In, a functional organisation of Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology, Government of India, with the objective of securing Indian cyberspace shows that the cybersecurity incidents handled by them in the last decade increased from 2,565 in 2008 to 53,081 in 2017, with around 29,000 cybersecurity incidents related to websites in 2017.

Experts pointed out that the use of crypto-technology and crimes associated with it are increasing but the government is yet to include these changes in the Act. Advocate Gaurav Jachak, who handles cases of cybercrime, stressed on the need to have special courts to process cybercrime cases at a faster rate. “The disposal rate in cybercrime cases is too low and so there is a need for action from different agencies to handle cybercrimes,” Jachak added.

Speaking on changes required in the IT Act, city-based Advocate Chetan Bhutada said the law should make it mandatory for the investigating officer to have complete knowledge of information technology. “There should be a special police team with complete knowledge of computers for cybercrime cases. There have been massive changes in cybercrime over time and it can only be handled if the responsibility of the crime is shared among all stakeholders. Currently, the common man is blamed for the crime when all stakeholders involved are responsible for it. The last step would be about mandatory awareness clause for all stakeholders so that people are made aware of the technology so they do not get involved in a crime,” Bhutada added.

Speaking about the police roping in private cyber experts in cybercrime cases, Bhutada said that a complainant may or may not trust a private expert.

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