India to Clear Bill for Cyber Deals ASAP

The 1999 Information Technology Bill will be introduced in the winter session of Parliament in India. A tremendous increase in e-commerce transactions is expected by the industry as soon as the bill becomes law.

The Union Cabinet has already approved the proposal that would allow
enactment of cyber laws to regulate electronic communications, trade and
commerce and prevent computer crimes in the country.

The bill envisages legalising the electronic signatures on the Net thereby
giving sanctity to credit card transactions. Some of the existing statutes
like Indian Penal Code, the Indian Evidence Act, the Banker’s Book Evidence
Act and the Reserve bank of India Ac are to be amended accordingly.

“Once the IT Bill ’99 becomes a law, we anticipate a 500 per cent increase in
e-commerce transactions in the country,” says Dewang Mehta, President,
National Association of Software and Service Companies (NASSCOM)
. In the current fiscal year, the volume of e-commerce
transactions is expected to touch $110 million.

The bill contains provisions to eliminate barriers to e-commerce that are the result from uncertainties over writing and signature requirements. This
implies that if the bill were passed, digital signature would become
legally valid and acceptable.

New machinery for licensing, monitoring and certifying authorities for
enactment of cyber laws would be set up, says the legislation. The authorities
would monitor and oversee jurisdiction, origin, authentication, privacy
protection and intellectual property and computer crimes being committed on
the Net.

The bill proposes that a controller shall be appointed to enable the
government to monitor and regulator activities like creating web pages,
advertisements, bulletin boards and, most importantly, e-commerce
originating from India.

A Cyber Regulation Appellate Tribunal is also proposed which will hear
appeals from the decisions of adjudicating officers on alleged crimes.

Most importantly, IT Bill proposes to allow the government departments and
the ministers to accept filing, creation and retention of documents in the
form of electronic files.

However, the Bill has suggested a provision to disrupt messages transmitted
in the electronic or encrypted form in the interest of sovereignty,
integrity and security.

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