Powers of Government under the Information Technology Act, 2000

Internet Censorship is today's hot topic with the passage of statements by our Honorable Ministers. But the billion dollars question is "Can online activities of individuals be censored/monitored in India?"

Provisions under the Information Technology Act, 2000 (IT Act)

Sec. 69 - Power to issue directions for interception or monitoring or decryption of any information through any computer resource.

As per the provision Central or State Government or any of its officers for reasons to be recorded in writing, by order, direct any agency of the appropriate Government to intercept, monitor or decrypt or cause the same to do any information generated, transmitted, received or stored in any computer resource, if satisfied that it is necessary or expedient so-

  • In the interest of the sovereignty or integrity of India or
  • Defense of India or
  • Security of the State or
  • Friendly relations with foreign States or
  • To maintain public order or
  • For preventing incitement to the commission of any cognizable offence or
  • For investigation of any offence

The subscriber or intermediary or any person in-charge of the computer resource shall, when called upon by any agency, extend all facilities and technical assistance to -

  • Provide access to or secure access to the computer resource generating transmitting, receiving or storing such information; or
  • Intercept, monitor, or decrypt the information, as the case may be; or
  • Provide information stored in computer resource.

Further government has also passed the Information Technology (Procedure and Safeguards for Interception, Monitoring and Decryption of Information) Rules, 2009 to be read with Section 69 (2). These rules explain the procedure and safeguards subject to which such interception or monitoring or decryption may be carried out.
If the subscriber or intermediary or any person who fails to assist the agency, they shall be punished with imprisonment for a term which may extend to seven years and shall also be liable to fine.

Sec. 69A - Power to issue directions for blocking for public access of any information through any computer resource

Central Government or any of its authorized official for reasons to be recorded in writing, by order, direct any agency of the Government or intermediary to block for access by the public or cause to be blocked for access by the public any information generated, transmitted, received, stored or hosted in any computer resource for the reasons mentioned above under Sec. 69.

Government has passed the Information Technology (Procedure and Safeguards for Blocking for Access of Information by Public) Rules, 2009 to be read with Sec. 69A (2). These rules explain the procedure and safeguards subject to which such blocking for access by the public may be carried out.

The intermediary, who fails to comply with the direction issued under this Section, shall be punished with an imprisonment for a term which may extend to seven years and also be liable to fine.

Sec. 69B - Power to authorize to monitor and collect traffic data or information through any computer resource for cyber security.

The Central Government may, to enhance cyber security and for identification, analysis and prevention of intrusion or spread of computer contaminant in the country, by notification in the Official Gazette, authorize any agency of the Government to monitor and collect traffic data or information generated, transmitted, received or stored in any computer resource.

The intermediary or any person in-charge or the computer resource shall provide technical assistance and extend all facilities to such agency to enable them online access or to secure and provide online access to the computer resource generating, transmitting, receiving or storing such traffic data or information.
Government has passed the Information Technology (Procedure and Safeguards for Interception, Monitoring and Decryption of Information) Rules, 2009 which explains the procedure and safeguards for monitoring and collecting traffic data or information.

Any intermediary who intentionally or knowingly contravenes the provisions of this Act shall be punished with an imprisonment for a term which any extend to three years and shall also be liable to fine.

Apart from these provisions the Privacy Act, 2011 has also been drafted and is in the final stages of the passage. The Act has been enacted to provide Right to Privacy to citizens of India which is guaranteed under Article 21 of the Constitution of India. The Act regulates the collection, maintenance, use, and dissemination of the personal information of the citizens of India and also provides for the penal action in case of violation of such rights. These rules shall be read with the relevant provisions of the IT Act.

 

 

Sagar Rahurkar

 

[email protected]
Sagar Rahurkar is a Law graduate. He is a techno-legal consultant and a Senior Faculty at Asian School of Cyber Laws.
He specializes in Cyber Law, Cyber Crime Investigation, Computer Forensics and Intellectual Property Laws.
He teaches and provides consultancy to corporates, law enforcement agencies and education institutes across India.
He can be contacted at [email protected].