Mr Rajeev Chanderashekhar, MoS, Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology, on 09 March 2023, held a stakeholder consultation on the Digital India Bill. This bill will be the successor to the Information technology Act 2000 and provide a set of regulations and laws which will govern cyberspace in times to come. The consultation was held in Bangalore and was the first of many such consultations where the Digital India bill is to be discussed. These public stakeholder consultations will provide direct public feedback to the ministry, and this will help create a safe and secure ecosystem of Indian Cyber Laws.
What is the Digital India Act?
Cyberspace has evolved the fastest as compared to any other industry, and the evolution of the growth cannot be presumed to be stagnant or stuck as we see new technologies and gadgets being invented all across the globe. The ease created by using technology has changed how we live and function. However, bad actors often use these advantages or fruits of technology to wreak havoc upon the nation’s cyberspace. The use of technology is always governed by the application of usage and safeguard policies and laws. As technology is growing exponentially, it is pertinent that we have laws which are in congruence with today’s time and technology. This is keenly addressed by the Digital India Act, which will be the legislation governing Indian Cyberspace in times to come. This was the need of the hour in order to have the judiciary, legislature and law enforcement agencies ahead of the curve when it comes to cyber crimes and laws.
What is the Digital India Bill’s primary goal?
The Digital India Bill’s goal is to guarantee an institutional structure for accountability and that the internet in India is accessible, unhindered by user harm or criminal activity. The law will apply to new technologies, algorithmic social media platforms, artificial intelligence, user risks, the diversity of the internet, and the regulation of intermediaries. The diversity of the internet, user hazards, artificial intelligence, social media platforms, and intermediary regulation are all discussed.
Why is the Digital India Bill necessary?
The number of internet users in the country currently exceeds 760 million; in the upcoming years, this number will reach 1.2 billion. Despite the fact that the internet is useful and promotes connectivity, there are a number of user damages nearby. Thus, it is crucial to enact legislation to set forth new guidelines for individuals’ rights and responsibilities and mention the requirement to gather data.
Major Elements of the Digital India Act
Major Elements of the Digital India Bill, which will eventually become an Act, which will contribute massively towards a safe cyber-ecosystem, some of these elements aim towards the following-
- The legislation attempts to establish an internet regulator.
- Women and Child safety.
- Safe harbour for intermediaries.
- The right of the individual to secure his information and the requirement to utilise personal data for legal purposes provide the main obstacles to data protection or regulation. The law tries to deal with this difficulty.
- A limit will be placed on how far a person’s personal information can be accessed for legal reasons.
- The majority of the bill’s characteristics are contrasted with the EU’s General Data Protection Regulation.
The Way Ahead
As we ride the wave of developments in cyberspace regarding emerging technologies and automated gadgets, it becomes pertinent that the state takes due note of such technologies and the courts take cognisance of offences committed by using technology. Law enforcement agencies must also train police personnel who can effectively and efficiently investigate cybercrime cases. The ministry also released a few bills last year, such as – the Telecommunication Bill, 2022, Intermediary Rules and the Digital Personal Data Protection Bill, 2022, to better address the shortcomings and the issues in cyberspace and how to safeguard the netizens. The Digital India Act will essentially create a synergy between the current bills and the new ones to come in order to create a wholesome, safe and secure Indian cyber ecosystem.
Digital India Bill is necessary to address the challenges of cyberspace, like personal data and privacy, and policies related to online child and women safety to create a and create a modern and comprehensive legal framework that aligns with global standards of cyber laws. The draft of the bill is expected to come out by July. The ministry looks forward to maximising the impact of the bill through such continuous and effective public consultation to understand and fulfil the expectations and requirements of the Indian netizen, thus empowering him/her equivalent to the netizen of a developed country.
Author : Mr. Abhishek Singh, Lead – Policy and Advocacy, CyberPeace Foundation