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Life term for cyber-terror crimes

Cyber-terrorism is now punishable with life imprisonment as per the Information Technology (Amendment) Act, 2008 that came into force on Tuesday.

However, the rapid increase in the use of computers and the Internet has led to newer forms of crime such as child pornography and cyber terrorism. So, new provisions were required to be included in the Information Technology Act, 2000. Accordingly the new Rules pertaining to various sections such as procedure and safeguards for interception, monitoring and decryption of information, procedure for monitoring and collecting traffic data or information have also been notified (The IT Amendment Act, 2008 ) , recognises new-age cyber offences such as identity theft, cyber-stalking, cyber harassment, among others.

It is a “giant leap forward” in dealing with cyber-terrorism, but it is felt by various cyberlaw experts that the amended legislation had “gone soft” on cyber criminals and cyber crimes, overall. Barring cyber-terrorism and certain other offences, cyber crime is now a bailable offence. This was not the case under the original IT Act. The amendments have raised the quantum of fine involved, but reduced the punishment that gives out a mixed signal.

Amended Information Technology Act comes into force

Amended Information Technology Act 2008, of India, now enforced.

The Information Technology (Amendment) Act, 2008 has come into force on 27th October, 2009.

Almost Nine years and 10 days after the birth of cyber laws in India, the new improved cyber law regime in India has become a reality. The Information Technology Act initially came into force on 17th October 2000 on the model UNCITRAL of UNO 1996. Major changes to the IT Act 2000 have now come into force with effect from 27th October 2009.

There are around 17 changes and out of that most of the changes relate to cyber crimes. The last decade has seen a spurt in crimes like cyber stalking and voyeurism, cyber pornography, email frauds, phishing and crimes through social networking. All these and more are severely dealt with under the new laws.

Some of the major modifications are:

1. A special liability has been imposed on call centers, BPOs, banks and others who hold or handle sensitive personal data. If they are negligent in “implementing and maintaining reasonable security practices and procedures”, they will be liable to pay compensation. It may be recalled that India’s first major BPO related scam was the multi crore MphasiS-Citibank funds siphoning case in 2005. Under the new law, in such cases, the BPOs and call centers could also be made liable if they have not implemented proper security measures.

2. Compensation on cyber crimes like spreading viruses, copying data, unauthorised access, denial of service etc is not restricted to Rs 1 crore anymore. The Adjudicating Officers will have jurisdiction for cases where the claim is upto Rs. 5 crore. Above that the case will need to be filed before the civil courts.

3. The offence of cyber terrorism has been specially included in the law. A cyber terrorist can be punished with life imprisonment.

4. Sending threatening emails and sms are punishable with jail upto 3 years.

5. Publishing sexually explicit acts in the electronic form is punishable with jail upto 3 years. This would apply to cases like the Delhi MMS scandal where a video of a young couple having sex was spread through cell phones around the country.

6. Voyeurism is now specifically covered. Acts like hiding cameras in changing rooms, hotel rooms etc is punishable with jail upto 3 years. This would apply to cases like the infamous Pune spycam incident where a 58-year old man was arrested for installing spy cameras in his house to ‘snoop’ on his young lady tenants.

7. Cyber crime cases can now be investigated by Inspector rank police officers. Earlier such offences could not be investigated by an officer below the rank of a deputy superintendent of police.

8. Collecting, browsing, downloading etc of child pornography is punishable with jail upto 5 years for the first conviction. For a subsequent conviction, the jail term can extend to 7 years. A fine of upto Rs 10 lakh can also be levied.

9. The punishment for spreading obscene material by email, websites, sms has been reduced from 5 years jail to 3 years jail. This covers acts like sending ‘dirty’ jokes and pictures by email or sms.

10. Refusing to hand over passwords to an authorized official could land a person in prison for upto 7 years.

11. Hacking into a Government computer or website, or even trying to do so in punishable with imprisonment upto 10 years.

12. Rules pertaining to section 52 (Salary, Allowances and Other Terms and Conditions of Service of Chairperson and Members),

13. Rules pertaining to section 69 (Procedure and Safeguards for Interception, Monitoring and Decryption of Information),

14. Rules pertaining to section 69A (Procedure and Safeguards for Blocking for Access of Information by Public),

15. Rules pertaining to section 69B (Procedure and safeguard for Monitoring and Collecting Traffic Data or Information) and

16. Notification under section 70B for appointment of the Indian Computer Emergency Response Team.

17. Rules Rules pertaining to section 54 (Procedure for Investigation of Misbehaviour or Incapacity of Chairperson and Members),

Important links to the IT Act and Amended law:

Official announcement – “Information Technology (Amendment) Act, 2008 comes into force”
http://pibmumbai.gov.in/scripts/detail.asp?releaseId=E2009PR1153

Information Technology Act, 2000:
http://mit.gov.in/download/itbill2000.pdf

For other relevant notifications, please visit:
http://mit.gov.in/default.ASPX?id=191

IT (Amendment) Act 2008:
http://mit.gov.in/download/it_amendment_act2008.pdf

Indian corporate law firms seem to have come of age globally.

Indian corporate law firms seem to have come of age globally.

According to a recent report on legal firms’ services sought in M&A (Merger and Amalgamation).

The report says that between January 1 and September 22, 2009, China topped M&A activities in the region with a 38.8% marketshare. It was followed by Japan (23.1%) and Australia (12.7%), while India stood fourth with a 9.7% share.

India ranks fourth in the Asia-Pacific region with three Indian law firms doing deals in excess of $3 billion this year. Many international investors are looking at new opportunities. All those deals which were abandoned or jeopardized because of the slowdown are now being revived because of increased confidence in the India Story.

Things were quiet from January to May. Starting June, a significant increase is seen in the flow of transactions,” the second half of the year will witness more deals. Among other Indian firms, Khaitan & Co was involved in 13 deals aggregating $3.23 billion, while Amarchand Mangaldas & Suresh A Shroff & Co worked on nine deals worth $3.03 billion.

Indian law firm, Desai & Diwanji & Co (D&D ) also features in the top ten across the region. By sealing 14 deals accounting for over $3.6 billion, it is ranked eight in the region.D&D advised Quippo Telecom Infrastructure in its acquisition of Wireless TT Service.

The firm was also involved in advising Avendus Capital and W.L. Ross in the acquisition of Satyam Computer Services by Tech Mahindra. The other large transactions where D&D was involved was Shantha Laboratories’ acquisition by Sanofi Pasteur and the sale of SPS Ltd’s steel facility’s sale to Essar Steel. Law firm Khaitan & Co. was a part of Bahrain Telecom’s investment into S Tel as well as NTT DoCoMo’s investment in Tata Teleservices. It was also involved in Sterlite Industries’ acquisition of Asarco. It seems that the effect of slowdown is almost over and India is witnessing large foreign investment in the domestic market. This will help to the law professionals in getting good opportunities in coporate law firms.But the point to be noted is that this will benefit to the competent professionals only who are well versed with the international and national coporate laws including cyberlaw and IPR.

Information Technology (Amendment) Bill, 2008 of India

Information Technology (Amendment) Bill, 2008 which has been approved by the Rajya Sabha and Lok Sabha is still awaiting approval of the President.

Information Technology Act 2000 (ITA-2000) is by and large, an Act of the Indian Parliament notified on October 17, 2000. It is worthwhile to mention that the United Nations General Assembly by means of resolution A/RES/51/162, dated the 30 January 1997 did accept the Model Law on Electronic Commerce adopted by the United Nations Commission on International Trade Law. This is referred to as the UNCITRAL Model Law on E-Commerce.

It has to be stated that the Government of India, by now, has proposed major amendments to ITA-2000 in form of the Information Technology (Amendment) Bill, 2006, passed by the Cabinet Committee of the Government of India and are prepared for being placed before the Indian Parliament for discussion. Nevertheless some substantial developments have taken place in all these years and the bill is known as, at the moment, Information Technology (Amendment) Bill, 2008 which has been approved by the Rajya Sabha and Lok Sabha. The Bill is still awaiting approval of the President along with the formal notification.

There has been the inclusion of many changes, as already said, and at the same time it does incorporate the recommendations made by the Parliamentary Standing Committee. What surprises many persons is the dearth of media recognition afforded to the amendment. Apart from this the amendment was passed in 26 minutes the 22nd of December 2008 along with 4 other bills, and another 8 in just 17 minutes the next day. This indicates that there was hardly any debate on what should have been very contentious laws.

The Swine Flu (H1N1virus) means big business to the lawyers

Due to havoc created by the media on Swine Flu most of the clients are seeking advice of lawyers from around the world and mostly in USA about what to do if the H1N1 virus surfaces in the workplace. Could they mandate employee vaccinations? Could they require families of workers to be vaccinated? Did they have to pay workers sent home who lacked sick leave? Could they ask people to work from home if they are sick? What about workers who had to stay home and attend to sick kids?

The potential for an H1N1 outbreak puts pressure on businesses to plan and act prudently. They have an obligation to provide a safe environment and to address risks ahead on and in a reasonable manner. So It is advised to the businesses to have policies in place about missing work, working from home and tending to sick kids. This is also important to make sure that employees know what those policies are before they need to stay home to recover or attend to members of their family. The biggest concern about working from home, aside from the logistics, is the issue of hours and getting paid for time worked. If you’re in the office, it’s easier to track the number of hours worked. For those working at home, employers need to instill in employees the need to keep accurate track of their time. Such detailed and well-defined policies provide a defense if legal challenges arise.

There have been several deaths in the world this year due to the H1N1 virus and schools have been reporting higher-than-average absences due to flu-like symptoms. So public attention is focused on the pandemic flu. Employers have known for a while that they could face poor work attendance.

Sick employees need to stay home to protect the workplace, but what protections do these employees have for keeping their jobs? Corporate law interests, protecting employers, but where’s the mention of protecting employees

Employers should post signs about the importance of hand washing and providing Lysol spray in bathrooms and antiseptic wipes for common use areas such as conference rooms. They are required to show flexibility with policies governing paid time off. They might want to pay for that day off, even if sick time is exhausted. I recommend giving employees an advance on their sick time and letting them pay it back later.

A lot of these decisions are driven by company culture. Some say they’ll make sure workers won’t lose pay, but others are more policy driven and if an employee doesn’t have sick time, they won’t get paid.

Employers also will face issues with employees who travel as part of their jobs, particularly those in sales. Airports and airplanes are notorious for acting as human petri dishes when it comes to the transmission of airborne diseases. The solution may lie in more teleconferencing and Web visits. You want to have those folks producing, but there’s a lot of tension over travel.

The notion of working from home also is open to debate because not all job duties can be performed off site. Retail and manufacturing operations, for instance, need bodies on the floor. To guard against workforce shortages, many businesses have done cross training so they can get by with fewer workers for short periods.

It is submitted that employers need to treat people consistently because if employees are aware of what the rules are, they know the consequences if they miss work and there will be no surprises.

Call for Papers

Jotwell: The Journal of Things We Like (Lots) seeks short reviews of (very) recent scholarship related to the law that the reviewer likes and thinks deserves a wide audience. The ideal Jotwell review will not merely celebrate scholarly achievement, but situate it in the context of other scholarship in a manner that explains to both specialists and non-specialists why the work is important.

Although critique is welcome, reviewers should choose the subjects they write about with an eye toward identifying and celebrating work that makes an original contribution, and that will be of interest to others. Please see the Jotwell Mission Statement for more details.

Reviews need not be written in a particularly formal manner. Contributors should feel free to write in a manner that will be understandable to scholars, practitioners, and even non-lawyers.

Ordinarily, a Jotwell contribution will

  • be between 500-1000 words;
  • focus on one work, ideally a recent article, but a discussion of a recent book is also welcome;
  • begin with a hyperlink to the original work — in order to make the conversation as inclusive as possible, there is a strong preference for reviews to focus on scholarly works that can be found online without using a subscription service such as Westlaw or Lexis. That said, reviews of articles that are not freely available online, and also of very recent books, are also welcome.

Initially, Jotwell particularly seeks contributions relating to:

We intend to add more sections in the coming months.

References

Authors are responsible for the content and cite-checking of their own articles. Jotwell editors and staff may make editorial suggestions, and may alter the formatting to conform to the house style, but the author remains the final authority on content appearing under his or her name.

  • Please keep citations to a minimum.
  • Please include a hyperlink, if possible, to any works referenced.
  • Textual citations are preferred. Endnotes, with hyperlinks, are allowed if your HTML skills extend that far.
  • Authors are welcome to follow The Bluebook: A Uniform System of Citation (18th ed. 2005), or the The Redbook: A Manual on Legal Style (2d Ed.) or indeed to adopt any other citation form which makes it easy to find the work cited.

Technical

Jotwell publishes in HTML, which is a very simple text format and which does not lend itself to footnotes; textual citations are much preferred.

Contributors should email their article, in plain text, in HTML, or in a common wordprocessor format (Open Office, WordPerfect, or Word) to ed.jotwell and we will forward the article to the appropriate Section Editors. Or you may, if you prefer, contact the appropriate Section Editors directly.