Notes on Information Technology Act,2000

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INFORMATION TECHNOLOGY ACT, 2000

The term ‘information technology’ is generally applied to broad areas of activities and technologies associated with the use of computers and communications. It can be explained as an application of computers to create, store, process, and use of information particularly in the field of commerce. Basically, IT enables the corporate management to have access to timely, accurate and relevant data, with the use of computers.

Cyber laws are the law relating to communications and automatic control systems. Thus, cyber laws cover Information Technology Law, which regulates transactions relating to computers and the internet.

The laws relating to Information Technology is contained in the Information Technology Act, 2000 which came into force on 17th October 2000. It is the first cyber law in India. It is mainly based on UNCITRAL Model Law. The United Nations Commission on International Trade Law (UNCITRAL) adopted the model law on electronic commerce in 1996.

The Information Technology Act, 2000 has been designed to give the boost to Electronic commerce, e-transactions and similar activities associated with commerce and trade, also to facilitate electronic governance by means of reliable electronic records. Briefly stated, it may be said that IT act mainly contains provisions relating to e-commerce, e-governance, electronic record, electronic signature and digital signature.

ELECTRONIC COMMERCE: Electronic commerce refers to the business transacted electronically. The term refers to the trading of goods over the internet. It is online sale and purchase of goods and services for value by using internet technologies.

INTERNET: Electronic word has become the most popular form of communication today. Electronic word is communicated through the internet. The internet system represents the network of networks under which the interconnected computers the world over, communicate with each other.

AMENDMENTS TO IT ACT, 2000: The Information Technology Act, 2000 has been amended in 2002 to 2008 to make it more effective and purposeful. A few minor amendments to the act were made by Information Technology Act, 2000. The Information Technology Act, 2008 brought about comprehensive amendments to the It Act, 2008. The major objective of this amendment act is to ensure increased protection of the interests of computer and internet users against related offenses and cyber terrorism.

DIGITAL SIGNATURE AND ELECTRONIC SIGNATURE: The Law of Information Technology recognizes the digital signature so that the Internet contract is authenticated and becomes binding on the parties. These are the electronic equivalent of the handwritten signatures. The expression “digital signature” has been defined in Section2 (1) {p} of the Act to mean authentication of any electronic record by the subscriber.

DIGITAL SIGNATURE: Any subscriber may authenticate an electronic record by affixing his digital signature. The authentication of the electronic record shall be effected by the use of an asymmetric cryptosystem which envelopes and transform the initial electronic record into another electronic record.

The digital signature is safer than a handwritten one as it can’t be forged. If a contract is signed by the parties on the last page, there is no way to find whether other pages have been tampered with. But digital signatures on the same contract will ensure that original contract is intact and not even a single letter is changed.

ELECTRONIC SIGNATURE: The expression “electronic signature” has been defined in Section2 (1) (A) of the Act to mean authentication of any electronic record by a subscriber, i.e. a person in whose name ‘Electronic Signature Certificate’ is issued, by means of the electronic technique specified in the Second Schedule of the Act and includes digital signature.

An electronic record shall be attributed to the originator if it was sent:

  1. By the originator himself;
  2. By a person who had the authority to act on behalf of the originator in respect of that electronic record; or
  3. By an information system programmed by or on behalf of the originator to operate automatically.

PENALTY FOR MISREPRESENTATION: Whoever makes any misrepresentation to, or suppresses any material fact from, the controller or the certifying signature certificate, as the case may be, shall be punished with imprisonment for a term which may extend to two years or with fine which may extend to one lakh rupees or with both.

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