Thursday, March 10, 2011

Precise Cyberlaws are a pressing need in the Digital Age

Cyber law is evolving and far from perfect in creation and enforcement. Current laws attempt to address cybercrime and data privacy. Recent exposures by WikiLeaks and the citizen uprisings in the Middle East have raised issues of national security and the extent of a citizen's right to online expression. Governments want to fetter this right bringing in legal liability for social networking abuse which would help address issues related to national security, cyber bullying, cyber crime, defamation, pornography and cyber harrassment.  I firmly believe that an appropriate cyber legal and regulatory system is urgently needed.

However, the evolving nature and incomplete understanding of how the digital age works by law makers results in loosely worded laws which infringe on citizens liberty beyond what one may call reasonable. Freedom once given is also difficult to take away. This lack of understanding has led to public outcry in several democratic countries and was clearly demonstrated in the recent wording of the Indian IT Act, which made bloggers responsible for what they publish as well as readers comments which are " threatening, abusive, objectionable, defamatory, vulgar, racial, among other categories", and legally equated bloggers to content hosters and ISP's who on behalf of another receives, stores or transmits any electronic record.

India is democratic and the government will listen and rectify. I am afraid that such incidents will continue to be repeated unless dedicated time and effort in precise cyberlaw creation is put in by institutions. This will involve public-judiciary participation, education of the judiciary and law makers, wider consensus on law making and governmental collaboration on a harmonised global cyber law framework.The news article titled " Plan to muzzle bloggers sparks outcry " in the Times of India better describes the Indian Bloggers outcry.

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