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The Road Ahead: An Overview of the Proposed Digital India Act

In today's rapidly evolving technological set-up, we all have witnessed a significant increase in online frauds and cybercrimes. There is a pressing need for the implementation of more innovative legislation that is well-equipped to address the intricacies of today's cybersecurity landscape.

Information and Technology Act, 2000 does not adequately address the issues of Data privacy breach and data handling. Considering the present scenario, Indian parliament has proposed to implement the Digital India Act alongside the Digital Personal Data Protection Bill, 2022. The Digital India Act will replace the 22 years old legislation Information Technology Act, 2000.

Need for the new Legislation:

  1. We do not have any robust legislation to regulate the activities happening in digital space. A lot is happening on social media these days. This legislation will act as a catalyst to deal with emerging technology related issues and challenges such as data theft, deepfakes, cyber frauds, AI etc. which are not being addressed by the IT Act, 2000.
  2. IT Act, 2000 was enacted long time back. Since then, several amendments and advancements have happened. Many provisions of the Act have become redundant. So, we need a powerful and well-structured legislation to strengthen the India's evolving digital economy.
  3. Govt. aims at building India as "$1 trillion Digital Economy". In order to achieve our digital goals we need a legislation that is globally acceptable, i.e., Global Standard Cyber Laws.
  4. We need a stringent legislation which ensures that Internet is an open, trusted and accountable place. So that the internet/social media users can share their opinions freely without being afraid of online trollers and bullies.
  5. This bill aims to foster global innovation and project India as a trusted player in global digital value chains.

Key Provisions Under The Digital India Bill:

  1. There will be a new adjudicatory mechanism for civil and criminal offences committed online.
  2. There will be a vivid classification of intermediaries under the new act. These intermediaries comprise of social media platforms, e-commerce platforms, AI platforms, and fact-checking platforms. A customized regulation will be applicable to each category of intermediary.
  3. The Bill aims to establish a dedicated Internet Regulatory Authority like TRAI and SEBI, etc. This regulator will keep a watch on activities happening in the digital space and safeguard the interests of users.
  4. Under the Digital India Bill, the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MeitY) is empowered to designate certain activities as punishable offences. These may include deliberate dissemination of misinformation, identity theft, cyberbullying targeting children, catfishing, and other similar activities. This codification will ensure a better and safe digital environment.
  5. The Bill seeks to embolden the constitutional right of "freedom of expression". A separate Grievance Appellate Committee will be set up to take up content complaints by social media users.
  6. "Safe Harbour" norms may undergo amendment or modification under the new bill. The "Safe Harbour" provision in the IT Act, 2000 refers to legal protection for Internet service providers (ISPs) and other intermediaries that host or transmit third-party content online. It is recognized under Section 79 of the IT Act, 2000.

A way forward:
There has been a need of comprehensive legislation to address the grievances of online users. We need stringent provisions to deal with user rights, trust & safety, and data privacy. Proposing Digital India Act is indeed a praiseworthy initiative of Government. It is important to involve key stakeholders, Cyber Law Experts and Citizens of India in the drafting of this legislation so that it can meet the needs of digital age. It is hoped that it will be implemented in a timely manner.

Written By: Adv.Radhika Verma
Email: [email protected]

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