Panel submits report on IT Act amendment

By agencies   |   Tuesday, 30 August 2005, 07:00 Hrs
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NEW DELHI: An expert group constituted for an in-depth review of issues relating to the IT Act 2000, has suggested that `intermediary' such as telecom service providers, ISPs, on-line market places, or cyber café should not be liable, for any third party information, except when it has conspired in commission of an unlawful act.

This is in contrast to an existing clause in the IT Act which makes such companies liable for any third-party information unless they prove that the offence was committed without their knowledge or that all due diligence was exercised to prevent the commission of the offence. In other words, the onus of proving innocence currently lies with the `intermediary.'

The group has also proposed measures for strengthening of data protection norms in India, in the backdrop of a spate of incidents of alleged security breach in BPO companies over the last few months.

It has recommended widening the ambit of computer-related offences beyond `hacking'.

Accordingly, it has proposed amending Section 66 of the IT Act to include imprisonment of up to one year or a fine of up to 200,000 for a person who - dishonestly or fraudulently - without permission of the owner or a person who is in charge of a computer resource either accesses, downloads or extracts any data or information, or causes the denial of access to any person authorized to access any computer resource.

In another section, the committee has specified a compensation of up to Rs 10 million for similar acts even in absence of dishonest or fraudulent intent.

The expert panel has also proposed imprisonment of up to two years and a fine of up to 500,000 for anyone who introduces a virus into any computer resource, disrupts an electronic resource, charges the services availed of by a person to the account of another person by tampering with or manipulating any computer resource, or provides any assistance to any person to facilitate access to a computer resource.

The need for stronger data protection norms was necessitated due to the recent high-profile cases of alleged information theft in call centers.

Mooting that the term `computer' be replaced by `computer resources' to include computer, computer system, computer network, data, computer data base or software, the group has proposed a new clause that talks about a compensation of up to Rs 10 million for affected persons in case any `body corporate' which owns or handles sensitive personal data or information in a computer resource is found to be negligent in implementing and maintaining reasonable security practices and procedures.

The group headed by the IT Secretary, Brijesh Kumar, recently submitted its report to the Minister for Communications and IT, Dayanidhi Maran.

A new section to deal with video voyeurism where images of private area of an individual are captured without his knowledge and then transmitted widely has also been proposed.

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