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Deccan Herald » National » Detailed Story
Cyber hurdles galore as amendments elude IT Act
From Kalyan Ray DH News Service New Delhi:
Exactly a year after the infamous date-theft case involving Infinity e-Search’s employee Karan Bahree at Gurgaon, Haryana, nothing appears to have moved on having a more stringent data-protection law benefiting the BPO sector.

Though certain amendments to the IT Act, 2000 including prevention of breach of confidentiality and leaking out information were proposed in coordination with NASSCOM almost 10 months ago, the Union ministry of IT and Communications has not yet placed the amendments before Parliament. “The proposed amendments to the IT Act have been prepared, but nothing has moved afterwards. So, even today charges are framed under Section 66 (hacking) and Section 43 (ground for seeking damage), which are not directly related to data protection and security,” Pavan Duggal, cyber crime lawyer in the Supreme Court told Deccan Herald.

“In the Karan Bahree case, nothing happened except his sacking from the company. There were no police cases against him,” he said. However, the incident compelled an expert committee, headed by the former IT secretary Brijesh Kumar to revisit the IT Act and propose some recommendations. The suggestions made by the committee include:

*Changes relating to handling of sensitive personal data or information with reasonable security practices.

*Procedures and gradation of severity of computer-related offences, committed dishonestly or fraudulently with suitable punishment.

*A section dealing with breach of confidentiality with intent to cause injury to a subscriber.

* Any corporate company or firm of individuals handling sensitive personal data or information, if found to have been negligent in implementing and maintaining reasonable security practices and procedures, shall be liable to pay compensation not exceeding Rs 1 crore to the person so affected.

Need for balance

The expert committee also wanted to strike a balance between cyber criminals and first-timers on the net who unintentionally had committed some mistake.

“Sometimes, because of lack of knowledge or for curiosity, netizens unintentionally end up doing certain undesirable acts. In a country like India where we are trying to enhance the positive use of internet and working towards reducing the digital divide, it needs to be ensured that new users do not get scared away because of publicity of computer-related offences. But, it must be ensured that offenders do not go unpunished. This balancing spirit has been incorporated in the proposed amendments in relevant sections,” the committee said.

After the incident, the industry representatives and IT department officials had met the Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and promised him about strict data protection clauses in the amended IT Act.

The industry watchers, however, feel that though there was scope for improvement, the current provisions in the IT Act in conjunction with Indian Penal Code and Criminal Procedure Code are good enough to curb data theft. “I don’t think present laws are inadequate. A lot of similar incidents happen in the USA. What is required is upgradation of the police force so that they understand technology. Such crimes are happening not because of inadequacies of law but because of lack of education,” said Raman Roy, one of the pioneers of the Indian BPO industry who was involved with GE Capital, American Express and Spectramind.

However, not everyone agrees that having more regulations is the answer. “In spite of laws, crime does takes place. You can not control human minds,” said Vipual Dayal of Mphasis, one of the large BPO firms.
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