Offences and Penalties under Technology Act

Offences and Penalties under Technology Act

Offences and Penalties under Technology Act

The Information Technology Act, 2000 was introduced when India was on the brink of digitalization, with the core objective of providing legal recognition for electronic data interchange and other means of electronic communication. The Act was later amended by the formation of the Information Technology (Amendment) Act, 2008. This article looks at the offences and penalties under the Act.

The Background

The advent of the internet has almost wiped out the traditional mode of communication on papers. We are now the beneficiaries of a cheaper, user-friendly and speedier form of communication. But, as is imperative, anything transformational could also herald its own consequences, which in this case arose in the form of cybercrimes. To curtail such occurrences, the Information Technology Act, 2000 was enforced, which was conceptualized on the model of the United Nations Commission on International Trade Law (UNCITRAL).

Objectives of the Act

The Act seeks to:

  • Accord legal recognition to E-Transactions, as well as digital signatures for authentication.
  • Make way for the electronic filing of data and information.
  • Facilitate the electronic storage of data.
  • Grant recognition for the maintenance of books of accounts in Electronic Form.
  • Levy offences for defaults.

The Amendment at a Glance

The 2008 amendment of the Act has:

  • Laid emphasis on data privacy and information security.
  • Defined cyber-café.
  • Classified digital signatures as technology neutral.
  • Defined the security process to be followed by a corporate.
  • Redefined the role of intermediaries.
  • Recognized the role of Indian Computer Emergency Response Team.
  • Made way for inclusion of crimes such as child pornography and cyber terrorism.
  • Vested an Inspector with the rights of investigating cyber-crimes. The role was previously donned by a DSP (Deputy Superintendent of Police).

Section 43 – Penalty for Damages

On a lighter note, any person damaging the computer (or its network) of the owner or any other person-in-charge would be forced to remit a penalty and compensation to the person so affected.

Section 44 – Documentation and Reporting

  • Any person not furnishing the required documents, returns or report to the controller or certifying authority would be liable to remit a penalty of up to INR 1,50,000.
  • If a person fails to furnish any information, books or other documents within the prescribed time-frame, then he/she would be imposed with a penalty of INR 5,000 for each day of the default.
  • If a person doesn’t maintain the books of accounts or other records, he/she would be forced to remit a penalty of INR 10,000 per day.

Section 65 – Manipulating Source Document

Any person who deliberately tampers, destroys, conceals or alters any computer source document intentionally would be liable for penal charges amounting to Rs. 2,00,000 and/or imprisonment of up to three years.

Section 66 – Dishonesty and Fraudulence

Any person committing dishonesty and fraudulence under the Act as specified in Section 43 above would be forced to remit a penalty of up to INR 5,00,000 and/or imprisonment of up to three years. On similar lines:

  • Section 66B of the Act states that any person who dishonestly or fraudulently receives/retains any stolen computer resource or communication device would be required to remit a penalty of INR 1,00,000 and/or imprisonment of up to three years.
  • Section 66C of the Act states that any person who dishonestly or fraudulently employs the electronic signature, password or any other unique identification feature of another person would be required to remit a penalty of up to INR 1,00,000 and/or imprisonment of up to three years.
  • Section 66D states that any person who dishonestly or fraudulently personates through any communication device or computer resource would be forced to remit a penalty of INR 1,00,000 or lesser, which could be added or replaced by an imprisonment term of three years.
  • Section 66E states that any person who deliberately captures, publishes or transmits the image of a private area of a person without his/her consent would be slapped a penalty of not more than INR 2,00,000, which could be replaced or added with an imprisonment period of three years or less.
  • Section 66F states that any person who fails to act electronically or threatens the unity, integrity, security or sovereignty of the country would be imprisoned for life.

Section 67 – Electronic Publishing or Transmission

Any person who electronically transmits any material which appeals to unhealthy interest, or is likely to deprave and corrupt any other who may refer to the information provided in it, would be forced to remit a penalty of not more than INR 5,00,000. The penalty could be added or replaced by a period of imprisonment of up to three years. If convicted again on the same grounds, the concerned individual would be levied with a penalty of up to INR 10,00,000, which again, could be added or replaced by a term of imprisonment of up to five years.

On the same page, Section 67A coveys that any person who electronically publishes or transmits any content which may not be unhealthy but consists of any sexually explicit act or conduct, he/she would be liable to remit a penalty of not more than INR 10,00,000, which could be replaced or added with a five-year imprisonment term. Repeated offences of such kind may result in a similar penalty, with an imprisonment term that could scale up to seven years.

Section 68 – Powers if the Controller

The Controller may order a Certifying Authority or any employee of such authority to cease the performance of any activities as stated in the order. Any person who deliberately contravenes with such an order is bound to pay a penalty of INR 1,00,000, which could be added or replaced with a term of imprisonment of two years or less.

Section 69 – Powers of the Government

The Central or State Government, in the best interests of the nation, may order any agency to monitor or decrypt any information generated, transmitted, received or stored in any computer resource. Any non-compliance with such order could result in imprisonment of seven years and a fine as determined by the authorities.

Section 70 – Declaration a Protected System

The Governments concerned is vested with the rights of declaring any computer resource, which affects the facility of Critical Information Infrastructure, as a protected system. Non-compliance with this notification, which as per rules would be published in the Official Gazette, would lead to a period of imprisonment of ten years and a fine so determined by the authorities.

Section 71 – Misrepresentation or Suppression

This section is applicable for any person who makes any misrepresentation of information or suppresses any material facts from the Controller or the Certifying Authority with the intention of obtaining any License or Electronic Signature Certificate. The Act explicitly states that such individuals would be forced to remit a penalty of up to INR 1,00,000; as an addition or replacement to which, a period of imprisonment which numbers to not more than two years would be applicable.

Section 72 – Provisions of Secured Access

This provision applies to any person with secured access to any electronic record, book, register, correspondence, information, document or other material. The Act states that if such a person reveals the details of such documents to any other person without the consent of the person concerned, then he/she would be forced to remit a penalty of INR 1,00,000; which could be added or replaced by a term of imprisonment which is not more than two years.

On the other hand, if any person indulges in such acts with the intent of causing wrongful loss or wrongful gain disclosures, then the range of penalty imposable goes up to INR 5,00,000, and that of imprisonment to three years.

Section 73 and 74 – Publishing of Certificate

The provisions of Section 73 would apply to a person who publishes an Electronic Signature Certificate or makes it available to any other person knowing that the Certifying Authority hasn’t issued it, the subscriber hasn’t accepted it, or the certificate has been revoked or suspended. The Act states that such a person would be forced to remit a penalty of up to INR 1,00,000; which could be added or replaced by imprisonment for a term of two years.

On the other hand, Section 74 states that any person who deliberately creates, publishes or otherwise makes available Electronic Signature Certificate for any fraudulent or unlawful purpose would be imposed with a penalty of up to INR 1,00,000; which could be added or replaced with an imprisonment of not more than two years.

Section 75 – Offence or Contravention Outside India

Any person who has committed any offence or contravention outside India involving a computer, computer system or computer network located in India would qualify for the penal provisions of the Act, irrespective of his/her nationality.

Section 76 – Provision of Confiscation

Section 76 of the Act states that any non-compliances concerned with the provisions of a computer, computer system, floppies, compact disks, tape drives or any other relevant accessories could result in the confiscation of such accessories. However, proving that such accessories weren’t employed in committing any fraud may abate any instance of arrests.

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Post by Sreeram Viswanath

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