What is Cyber Law?
Cyber Law is the law governing cyberspace. Cyberspace is a very wide term and includes computers, networks, software, data storage devices.
Cyberspace” is a very wider term. Most of us have limited knowledge of “Cyberspace” and the crimes occurring in “cyberspace”, known as cybercrime, which happens on computers and the Internet, however, cybercrime has a severe potential for remarkable impact on the lives of individuals and our society.
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Definition of Cyber Law
Cyber Law is the law governing cyberspace. Cyberspace is a very wide term and includes computers, networks, software, data storage devices (such as hard disks, USB disks, etc), the Internet, websites, emails, and even electronic devices such as cell phones, ATMs machines, etc.
Definition of Cyber Crime
Defining cybercrimes, as “acts that are punishable by the Information Technology Act” would be unsuitable as the Indian Penal Code also covers many cybercrimes, such as email spoofing and cyber defamation, sending threatening emails, etc.
A simple yet sturdy definition of cybercrime would be “unlawful acts wherein the computer is either a tool or a target or both”.
Origin of Cyber Crime
It is believed the first recorded cyber crime took place in the year 1820. This can be true with the fact that computers did exist since 3500 BC in India, China, and Japan. The modern computer began with the analytical engine of Charles Babbage.
Banks and other financial institutions were amongst the first large-scale computer users in the private sector, to automate payroll and accounting functions. Therefore, fraud in a computer scheme merged.
One of the first cases cited as an instance of computer fraud involved equity-funding Corporations in the US, fraud was simple. The frauds succeed because the auditors and regulators accepted computer printouts as definitive evidence of policies and did not ask for original documentation.
When the fraud was discovered, some 64,000 out of 97,000 policies allegedly issued by the company proved to be false, almost 1 Billion pounds estimated to be the loss. Therefore as technological advancements, the number of cybercrime cases increased.
There are no reliable and precise statistics of the losses the victims gain as the fact that victims do not detect many of these crimes. Therefore, fights against computer crime began. Several individuals were engaged in the fight against computer crime from early development.
The founder and father of the knowledge of computer crimes are by many observers considered to be Donn B. Parker, USA. He was involved in the research of computer crime and security from early 1970.
He served as a Senior Computer Security Consultant at the SRI International (Stanford Research Institute) and was the main author of the first basic federal manual for law enforcement in the USA: Computer Crime –Criminal.
Justice Resource Manual (1979). This manual became so on an encyclopedia also for law enforcement outside the US.
Need for Cyber Law
There are various reasons why it is extremely difficult for conventional law to cope with cyberspace. Some of these are discussed below:
- Cyberspace is an intangible dimension that is impossible to govern and regulate using conventional law.
- Cyberspace has complete disrespect for jurisdictional boundaries. A person in India could break into a bank’s electronic vault hosted on a computer in USA and transfer millions of Rupees to another bank in Switzerland, all within minutes. All he would need is a laptop computer and a cell phone.
- Cyberspace handles gigantic traffic volumes every second. Billions of emails are crisscrossing the globe even as we read this, millions of websites are being accessed every minute and billions of dollars are electronically transferred around the world by banks every day.
- Cyberspace offers enormous potential for anonymity to its members. Readily available encryption software and steganographic tools that seamlessly hide information within image and sound files ensure the confidentiality of information exchanged between cyber-citizens.
- Cyberspace offers never-seen-before economic efficiency. Billions of dollars worth of software can be traded over the Internet without the need for any government licenses, shipping and handling charges and without paying any customs duty.
- Electronic information has become the main object of cybercrime. It is characterized by extreme mobility, which exceeds by far the mobility of persons, goods or other services. International computer networks can transfer huge amounts of data around the globe in a matter of seconds.
- A software source code worth crores of rupees or a movie can be pirated across the globe within hours of their release.
- Theft of corporeal information (e.g. books, papers, CD ROMs, floppy disks) is easily covered by traditional penal provisions. However, the problem begins when electronic records are copied quickly, inconspicuously and often via telecommunication facilities. Here the original’ information, so to say, remains in the possession’ of the owner’ and yet information gets stolen.
Cyber Law in India
In India, cyber laws are contained in the Information Technology Act, 2000 (“IT Act”) which came into force on October 17, 2000. The main purpose of the Act is to provide legal recognition to electronic commerce and to facilitate the filing of electronic records with the Government.
The following Act, Rules, and Regulations are covered under cyber laws:
- Information Technology Act, 2000
- Information Technology (Certifying Authorities) Rules, 2000
- Information Technology (Security Procedure) Rules, 2004
- Information Technology (Certifying Authority) Regulations, 2001.