The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Republic of India: the Constitution of 1950 does not expressly recognize the right to privacy. However, the Supreme Court first recognized in 1964 that there is a right of privacy implicit in the Constitution under Article 21 of the Constitution, which states, “No person shall be deprived of his life or personal liberty except according to procedure established by law.” There is no general data protection law in India. In June 2000 the national association of software and service companies urged the government to pass a data protection law to ensure the privacy of information supplied over computer networks and to meet European data protection standards.

The national task force on information technology and software development had submitted an “IT Action Plan” to Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee in July 1998 calling for the creation of a “National Policy on Information Security, Privacy and Data Protection Act for handling of computerized data.” It examined the United Kingdom data protection act as a model and recommended a number of cyber laws including ones on privacy and encryption. No legislative measures, however, has been considered to date.

In May 2000, the government passed the Information Technology Act.... The Act also addresses computer crime, hacking, damage to computer source code, breach of confidentiality and viewing of pornography. Chapter X of the Act creates a Cyber Appellate Tribunal to oversee adjudication of cybercrimes such as damage to computer systems (Section 43) and breach of confidentiality (Section 72). After widespread public outcry, sections requiring cybercafes to create detailed records about their customers’ browsing habits were dropped. The legislation gives broad discretion to law enforcement authorities through a number of provisions — Section 69 allows for interception of any information transmitted through a computer resource and requires that users disclose encryption keys or face a jail sentence up to seven years. Section 80 allows deputy superintendents of police to conduct searches and seize suspects in public spaces without a warrant. This section in particular appears to be targeted at cyber-cafe users where an estimated 75 per cent of Indian internet users access the web. Section 44 imposes stiff penalties on anyone who fails to provide requested information to authorities, and Section 67 imposes strict penalties for involvement in the electronic publishing of materials deemed obscene by the government.

Chapter III of the Act gives electronic records and digital signatures legal recognition, and Chapter VI authorizes the government to appoint a controller of certifying authorities, who will license certifying authorities before they can operate in India... Following the enactment of the IT Act the ministry of information technology adopted the information technology (certifying authorities) rules in October 2000 to regulate the application of digital signatures and to provide guidelines for certifying authorities.

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