What Are New Information Technology Laws and Policy in Jammu and Kashmir?

by Ajaz Afzal Lone

Generally, people don’t register complaints either due to lack of knowledge or due to fear of disclosing their identity, hence, the need of the hour is that concerned authorities should regularly post the emerging cybercrimes and safety tips to safeguard and enhance their privacy.

Cybercriminals usually use female names and fake photographs

The Information Technology Act (IT Act), has been made applicable to the whole country including Jammu & Kashmir. The primary advantages of this are that it facilitates the direct application of all satellite legislations on IT such as RTI and Copyright legislations to J&K.  The Internet is a widely recognized medium for communication and development. It allows people to access information throughout the world.

Information Technology Act, 2000: The IT Act, 2000 includes within its scope electronic commerce, electronic communication, electronic data interchange and cybercrime in India. It offers legal recognition for transactions carried out by e-commerce and e-banking and is based on the UNCITRAL model law.

IPC Changes

This law has brought some significant changes in India Penal Code, 1860 India Evidence Act, 1872 & RBI Act, 1940. In terms of cyber offence, violation, and remedies, the enforcement of the IT Act of 2000 has been the subject of litigation at both the national and transnational levels.

It is clear that this law has not succeeded in ensuring data privacy and proper usage of the internet, which has resulted in increased cybercrimes. However, the act has some positive aspects as well, including legal recognition of electronic commerce and transactions. Prior to this act, there was neither infrastructure to regulate online transactions nor a redressal mechanism for cybercrimes. E-mail was also not accepted as a legal form of communication. The enactment of the IT Act changed all this and provided a complaint mechanism related to technological offences punishable dealt with by the cyber police.

J&K IT/ITeS Policy 2020

Information Technology policy for the J&K was adopted by Government Order No: 41JK-ITD of 2020. Its preamble is constructive in terms of physical infrastructure growth, as well as enhancing citizens’ quality of life. Some of the prominent objectives of the policy are to increase digital literacy, IT infrastructure, tourism, and create safe cyberspace and employment. Besides, this policy attempts to develop the industry to support electronic governance initiatives which attract investment in Jammu and Kashmir.

Prevalence of Cyber Crime

In today’s world, everybody has unrestricted access to the internet and internet-connected appliances. Online shopping, money transfer, paying taxes and bills, sharing of information reliant on the internet is rapidly rising. On one hand, life becomes easy yet on the other side it results in an increase in cybercrime, which uses technology as a medium. The IT Act, however, does not define the word “cybercrime.” It is commonly described as an illegal activity carried out with the aid of a computer and the internet. Even though there is antivirus software and firewalls, the instances of cyber crimes are increasing. In addition to cybercrime, there is also misuse of people’s personal data which is in clear violation of Article 21 of the Constitution of India.

Jammu and Kashmir, information Technology (Electronic Service Delivery) Rules, 2013

Various rules have been framed in Jammu and Kashmir to enhance digital democracy and empowerment. The Jammu and Kashmir, Information Technology (Electronic Service Delivery) Rules, 2013 are one set of such rules. These are approved by application of the powers conferred by Section 90 read with Sections 6 and 6A of the IT Act, 2000 for the purpose of efficient delivery of electronic service through electronically enabled kiosks or some other mechanism for electronic service delivery.

IT and Right to Information Laws

RTI Act, 2005 made the right to secrecy an exception by changing the discourse of the colonial law named as Official Secret Act, 1893. The RTI Act, 2005 casts obligation on public authorities to facilitate the right to information to all and casts a duty upon the authorities to maintain all records duly indexed and catalogued which facilitates open access records of public authority on different systems all over states. Section 6(1) says the applicant shall make a request in writing or through electronic means in English or Hindi accompanying such fee as may be prescribed. Information is to be provided in printed or in any electronic format. Every public authority has to take steps to make available information to the public at consistent intervals through the internet. The public has a minimum possibility to the use of their right to information and such access should be in the public domain.

Requirements

IT Act is not the comprehensive code to deal with all cybercrimes, therefore, the need of the hour is to incorporate new provisions in IT Act, 2000  as well as new rules and regulations to safeguard electronic communications, electronic devices and transactions. In each district of Jammu and Kashmir, a cyber-cell should be established to handle cyber cases and cybercriminals.

Ajaz Afzal Lone

Cyber police should be given proper training and knowledge to investigate the emergent challenge of cybercrime and cybercriminals. Generally, people don’t register complaints either due to lack of knowledge or due to fear of disclosing their identity, hence, the need of the hour is that concerned authorities should regularly post the emerging cybercrimes and safety tips to safeguard and enhance their privacy. In addition to these, awareness programmes, seminars, symposiums, workshops and conferences should be organised by professionals having experience in cyber law and handling cybercriminals.

(Author is a Research Scholar at Aligarh Muslim University. The opinions expressed in this article are those of the author’s and do not purport to reflect the opinions or views of Kashmir Life.)

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