Thursday, October 04, 2007

A Critique of Indian IT Act 2006

So, the Government is considering a revision to IT Act 2000 with amendments called ITAA 2006, and has reportedly put it in the public domain for discussion. For whatever it is worth, I've a few points but since most hits on this blog are from losers searching for "GE IMLP Salary", I'm not optimistic :(

Anyway, I got interested when I came across some news articles in EconomicTimes and Techtree. With an article provacatively titled "False web identity may land you in prison", there was scarcely a chance that I wouldn't read and comment on it. As a "concerned citizen" that I pretend I am, I got really irritated, and thoughts of "Big Brother" started floating in my head.

But, a cursory glance at the actual text of the Act paints a different picture.
The section in question is Section 66A, which reads
Punishment for sending offensive messages through communication service, etc. (Introduced vide ITAA 2006)
Any person who sends, by means of a computer resource or a communication device,-

a) any content that is grossly offensive or has menacing character; or

b) any content which he knows to be false, but for the purpose of causing annoyance, inconvenience, danger, obstruction, insult, injury, criminal intimidation, enmity, hatred, or illwill, persistently makes use of such computer resource or a communication device,

shall be punishable with imprisonment for a term which may extend to two years and with fine.

And, surprise surprise, a communication device includes a cell phone too !

The probable intent of the clause seems to be an explicit criminalization of misrepresentation, esp. related to email/id spoofing, 419 scams, phishing or (esp in India) Orkut-related crimes.

Does it criminalize false information in creating web-ids ? Don't think so, since the intent is to protect privacy and not to cause any offence. But, it would certainly be a pain in the posterior, because these days bad web policies mean you have to register (along with your cell phone number, credit card number) to do anything on the internet, including view NewYork Times web page. Why the hell should NYTimes require registration (even if free) to access their site ? And why the hell should every web form force me to enter a surname, given that I don't have one ?? Forcing people to enter private data where it is not required should be considered a crime ...

At the same time, if the Act had a clear stand on protection of privacy and legitimized farting on web-pages where the intent is not to cause criminal offence, it would be a good deal.

At this rate, we will put BugMeNot out of business. Anyone listening ?

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At Saturday, 16 January, 2010 at 10:33:00 AM IST, Anonymous Anonymous said...

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