The book is written with the clear objective of bridging the gap between the legal fraternity and technical cyber world. The author has created a unique glossary of technical and legal terms, and has used diagrams, illustrations, graphs, statistical data, landmark cases, and hypothetical examples to simplify the complex subject of cyber law. The author, from her vast practical knowledge in the field discusses the lacunae in Indian cyber law regime and makes effective recommendations to strengthen the cyber law in India. She also recommends best practices to ensure privacy and data protection on the Internet. The book will be of immense value to the judiciary, lawyers, law firms, law libraries, legislators, investigation agencies, international organizations, industry associations, e-commerce businesses, ITES companies, IT professionals, and law students.
“It is possibly the first such comparative study of the different cyber cultures prevailing in different parts of the world and is likely to have a great impact on cyber society and lead to the creation of “cyber norms” of global intensity…The meticulous manner, in which this highly commendable book has been handled by the author, makes it an authoritative reference work in aspect of laws relating to Information Technology both in India and abroad, since cyberspace is not hemmed in by any geographical boundaries. I can say with confidence that this book will be a valuable contribution to the literature on Cyber law and practices and merits a place on the shelf of anyone whose work constantly involves the use of computers, the internet and the virtual world of cyberspace…”
Excerpt of Foreword by Hon’ble Justice Altamas Kabir, Judge, Supreme Court of India
“The book … is both the most exhaustive and useful treatise on Cyberlaws authored in India… . The extraordinary characteristics of this book include the author’s invaluable original and practical suggestions to strengthen the cyberlaw enforcement in India, its usefulness across many jurisdictions, thoroughly researched content and excellent legal analysis. The author has simplified the complex concepts of cyberspace and discussed emerging legal issues connected with new technologies such as cloud computing, electronic signatures and new online concepts of social networking, blogging and recommended best practices for internet usage that every internet user ought to know.”
Justice A. K. Sikri
Acting Chief Justice, Delhi High Court
“…an excellent treatise which not only discusses developments of cyberlaws in India but also in various jurisdictions. … This book is a must-read for legislators, law enforcement agencies, international organizations, industry associations, e-commerce businesses, business process outsourcing enterprises, legal and IT professionals that are directly concerned with growth of Information Technology law in India. This book in its conceptualization and manifestation is truly a commendable achievement… and may even be instrumental in heralding progressive growth of IT laws in India.”
Dr Gulshan Rai
Director General, Indian Computer Emergency Response Team, Government of India,
Department of Information Technology, New Delhi
“…an extensive reference not only for Lawyers and Judges; this is also an excellent reference cum user manual for Cyber Crime Investigators who have to collect, collate and present digital evidence. The chapters on cybercrime, digital evidence and IT Act cover complex issues; the task is difficult but Mrs. Seth has given a comprehensive and lucid treatment to the subject. I recommend this book to… prosecutors and investigators.”
Loknath Behera, IPS
Inspector General of Police, National Investigation Agency
THE INFORMATION-communication revolution that is transforming the world around us has done wonders in the way we think, the way we conduct ourselves and the way we organize relationships across, space , time and cultures. While governments are finding It difficult to govern in the cyberspace , businessmen and entrepreneurs are discovering new ways to expand their activities with the help of the new technology. Jobs are going to places miles away from the place where the company is located and a virtual world is born outside the control of nation states and corporations. Along with it , the laws and systems of the real world have increasingly became ineffective in its regulatory functions ,challenging established ways of altering relationships within nation states. The digital world is thus creating its own jurisprudence in which individuals and corporations are becoming law makers as much as governments and international institutions. It is this bewildering legal and technical scenario which is the subject of analysis in the book. According to the author the book is the product of over twelve years of study and reflection during which she refined her understandings of cyber law in theory and practice. Her object in writing the book was to cater to the needs of ” technical persons who have no legal background and legal persons with no technical background” to be able to communicate with each other and help develop the new technology to the advantage of people everywhere. The author also seeks to explore the rights and the obligations of the internet users so that they do not risk their safety and privacy in the cyber world. To those in government and judiciary involved in enforcing the cyber laws and regulations , she hopes to impart knowledge of its implications for effective enforcement . Thus, the attempt of the author is to serve the needs of all concerned with the computer and internet enabling them to work together under a regime mutually beneficial and yet different from that they were used to till the advent of the new technology . After reading through the text and the appendices the reviewer is of the view that the author has succeeded in her mission to a large extent. One must however say that in attempting to be comprehensive the book has become excessively voluminous and costly particularly for a student or a beginner in legal practice . Unlike other publications on the subjects one finds in the market , the book contain a useful glossary of technical terms now familiar to technology experts and a glossary of legal terms which law persons are familiar with. This is indeed helpful to the multiple users with different backgrounds who might use the books to know the law and the technology behind it.
The book is organized in 14 chapters and 10 appendices, beginning with a historical narrative of the evolution of cyber space , it examines the dilemma of establishing jurisdiction with the help of international instruments, domestic laws and best practices now in vogue. By way of conclusion the author says, “till the time the utopian homogeneity in law is attained and a universal forum to settle cyberspace disputes is established, one may have to rely on principles of personal jurisdiction elucidated by courts of different jurisdictions that also settle offline disputes”.
The next four chapters deal with substantive issues relating to e-contracting electronic commerce , electronic signatures and electronic money. The Indian Information Technology Act and the rules made thereunder have made these practices legitimate in the business world though there are gaps and uncertainties in the law and its interpretation in different fact situations. With technology constantly changing, the problem and challenges are unending and the law finds itself way behind technological developments. Since the problems are common to all jurisdiction across the globe, it becomes inevitable to see how other countries are addressing the issues and what the U.N. and other international bodies outside U.N. are trying to do to harmonize the law and its practice.
Chapters 7 to 11 deal with matters relating to governance of internet and cyber space. How does e-commerce and business profits get taxed since they involve intangible goods and on-line transaction? There are different principles and interpretations employed by different jurisdiction and there is the U.N. model of Taxation of e-commerce. There are different tests to determine on-line taxation all of which have their own weakness in implementation. The book discusses these problems without suggesting any solution to all such situation. On the question of protecting intellectual property rights on copyrighted material in digital forms, the author analyzes judicial opinions in a number of land mark cases with a view to draw up the principles to follow. According to the author , it is for the intellectual property rights holder to protect their IP assets, whether patent or trademarks or copyrights by using available technological tools, developing a regulatory regime which is appropriate to the technology and seeking strict enforcement by authorities. “Thus, a multi pronged approach encompassing technical, social and legal measures will be required to adequately protect intellectual property rights in cyber space ” writes the author.
Protection of data and of privacy is indeed a serious threat on the internet . Laws are yet to be adopted in many jurisdiction in this regard. International organizations and Internet users are working on strategies which can effectively protect the legitimate interests while allowing free access to cyber space for all with minimum restrictions. It may be relatively easy to legislate but difficult to enforce. Fundamental right for free speech and expression is involved and censorship is not practical nor desirable. What is recommended for the present is “net neutrality in relation to internet transmission irrespective of content and origin of communications flowing over internet”. However, committing crimes using the new technology cannot be tolerated and they need to be dealt with as such under the law of the land. Chapter 10 of the book discusses the growing number and variety of cyber crimes known by different words and phrases and how they are dealt with under the information technology Act, 2000 and the Amendment Act of 2008. Under the title “Author’s Recommendation” a dozen steps are proposed in the book to strengthen the enforcement regime against cyber crimes which includes enacting new laws, adopting guidelines, training enforcement personnel and signing international cyber crime conventions. A key factor in this regard which is increasingly acquiring importance in the police and security agencies is the collection and analysis of electronic evidence which is the subject of chapter 11 of the book. The Information Technology Act and the rules and regulations are analyzed in this regard and some conclusions drawn to suggest the way forward.
The last two chapters are devoted to highlight some emerging issues in the digital world which are still outside the legal regime and where principles are being debated for possible adoption of some sort of convergence laws. With technologies converging it is inevitable that a convergence law has to come as a suitable response to the emerging situation. Laws in this regard are being adopted in some developed countries and one is proposed in India as well.
It was not easy for the reviewer to prepare this review because of lack of competence in the new technologies and its applications. However, reading the book once and examining certain parts of it once more gave instructive insights into both technology and the emerging jurisprudence around it . The reviewer is sure, for those similarly placed, this book will be an excellent tool to acquire the basic knowledge necessary to understand the laws relating to internet and information technology to be able to operate in a digital regime that is surrounding us day by day. No law person can afford to be ignorant of the virtual world of internet anymore and this book is an invitation to introduce them to the laws and principles involved.
N.R. MADHAVA MENON
Karnika Seth is a renowned Cyber Lawyer and Expert and is the Managing Partner of Seth Associates, a law firm in India. She practices law at the Supreme Court of India and the Delhi High Court, and is advisor to many corporate houses and IT companies. Ms. Seth has been officially consulted by the Lok Sabha and the Ministry of Information Technology for her recommendations to develop cyber law in India. She is also a legal advisor to Office of Comptroller of Certifying Authorities under the IT Act, 2000. Ms. Seth has also actively resolved many cybercrime cases with the Indian law enforcement agencies. She is an active speaker on cyber law issues, both in print and electronic media and delivers special lectures to judicial academies, police academies, Central Bureau of Investigation, senior government officers, industry associations, and corporate entities. She holds a Master’s Degree in Corporate and Commercial Laws from the King’s College, University of London.