What is Cyber Jurisprudence?

A disciple asked his Sage, “what is cause and effect?” The Sage reacted aggressively and slapped the disciple’s face. The wounded disciple kept quiet. After some time, seeing the wound of his disciple, the Sage asked the disciple to “show the slap”. The disciple pointed at his wound, and the sage said that, the wound is the result of his slap and that is not the slap itself. The Disciple then understood that slap is the cause and wound is the effect.

Before any sagacious man slaps us it is better we understand the relationship between ‘cyberspace’ and ‘information technology’. The fundamental question to be clarified is whether technological advancement has created cyberspace or discovered cyberspace? As most of the technologists believe that cyberspace? is comprising of computers, telecommunications, software and data in a more abstract form an as they do not attribute any significant character  to the ‘space’ perhaps , they believe that cyberspace is created by the technology.

On the other hand, Sociologists believe that cyberspace already exists-lt is not created by technology, perhaps the technological innovations might have facilitated us in capturing or utilizing the cyberspace (though not entirety). It cannot be said that in the early days of technological innovations there was ‘a less cyberspace’ and now these is a ‘larger cyberspace’ because of the technological advancement. If this is true, one may be interested in evaluating the increase of cyberspace in proportion to the technology advancement and come up with a mathematical formula, which is absurd.

Jurisprudence of Indian Cyber Law

The primary source of cyber law in India is the Information Technology Act, 2000 (IT Act) which came into force on 17th October, 2000.

The primary purpose of the Act is to provide legal recognition to electronic commerce and to facilitate filing of electronic records with the Government. The IT Act also penalizes various cybercrimes and provides strict punishments imprisonment term up to 10 years an compensation up to Rs 1 crore).

An Executive Order dated 12th September, 2002 contained instructions relating to provisions of the Act with regard to protected systems and application for the issue of a Digital Signature Certificate.

Minor errors in the Act were rectified by the Information Technology (Removal of Difficulties) Order, 2002 which was passed on 19th September, 2002.

The IT Act was amended by the Negotiable Instruments (Amendments and Miscellaneous Provisions) Act, 2002. This introduced the concept of electronic cheques and truncated cheques.

Information Technology (Use of Electronic Records and Digital Signatures) Rules, 2004 has provided the necessary legal framework for filing of documents with the Government as well as issue of licenses by the Government. It also provides for payment and receipt of fees in relation to the Government bodies.     

On the same day, the Information Technology (Certifying Authorities) Rules, 2000 also came into force. These rules prescribe the eligibility, appointment and working of Certifying Authorities (CAs).These rules also lay down the technical standards, procedures and security to be used by a CA. These rules were amended in 2003, 2004 and 2006.

Information Technology (Certifying Authority) Regulations, 2001 came into force on 9th July, 2001. They provide further technical standards and procedures to be used by a CA. Two important guidelines relating to CAs were issued. The first are the Guidelines for submission of application for license to operate as a Certifying Authority under the IT Act. These guidelines were issued on 9th July, 2001.

Next were the Guidelines for submission of certificates and certification revocation lists to the Controller of Certifying Authorities for publishing in the National Repository of Digital Certificates. These were issued on 16th December, 2002.

The Cyber Regulations Appellate Tribunal (Procedure) Rules, 2000 also came into force on 17th October, 2000. These rules prescribe the appointment and working of the Cyber Regulations Appellate Tribunal (CRAT) whose primary role is to hear appeals against orders of the Adjudicating Officers.

The Cyber Regulations Appellate Tribunal (Salary, Allowances and other terms and conditions of service of Presiding Officer) Rules- 2003 prescribe the salary, allowances and other terms for the Presiding Officer of the CRAT.

Information Technology (Other powers of Civil Court vested in Cyber Appellate Tribunal) Rules, 2003 provided some additional powers to the CRAT.

On 17th March, 2003, the Information Technology (Qualification and Experience of Adjudicating Officers and Manner of Holding Enquiry) Rules, 2003 were passed. These rules prescribe the qualifications required for Adjudicating Officers. Their chief responsibility under the IT Act is to adjudicate on cases such as unauthorized access, unauthorized copying of data, spread of viruses, denial of service attacks, disruption of computers, computer manipulation etc. These rule also prescribe the manner and mode of inquiry and adjudication by these officers.

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