Criminal actions are constantly changing in the dynamic environment of the digital economy, demanding the adaptation of legal frameworks to properly address them. The importance of laws in regulating technology-related concerns grows as India’s shift to a digital economy picks up speed. However, there is still disagreement regarding the effectiveness and sufficiency of the existing legal statutes. The Information Technology (IT) Act of 2000 has undergone numerous modifications, yet despite this, it has come under fire for failing to keep up with new technologies. A new piece of law called the Digital India Act (DIA) is being prepared in response.
The Information Technology Act of 2000’s main goal was to create a legal foundation for the internet, with a focus on data handling principles. The Act was subsequently amended in 2008 to include cybercrimes connected to banking and financial activities.
The Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology is pushing for the replacement of the outdated IT Act of 2000 with the upcoming Digital India Act (DIA) in light of the current IT landscape, which is characterised by a significant increase in internet users (from 5.5 million in 2000 to a staggering 850 million Indian users currently) and their varied online activities and devices. This innovative law aims to incorporate the “Digital India” initiative’s guiding principles, covering topics like accountability, open internet access, online safety and trust, quality of service, an adjudicatory mechanism, and provisions for cutting-edge technologies like artificial intelligence and personal data protection.
The IT Act, along with other laws pertaining to copyright, trademarks, and the protection of digital personal data, are some of the outdated and contemporary legal statutes that regulate India’s cyberspace, according to renowned cyber and data protection attorney Advocate (Dr) Prashant Mali. Individual rights in the digital space are currently not clearly understood. The current legal system does not sufficiently address issues like the spread of false information and online conflicts by failing to ensure the protection of women and children when they are online.
Dr. Mali emphasises that these current legal gaps are what the Digital India Act is meant to fill. Legislation is urgently needed to punish online offenders and stop online defamation. Another crucial issue is how cryptocurrencies will be regulated. Laws must advance in lockstep with technology’s accelerating pace of change. Dr. Mali emphasises the requirement for the swift creation of legal regulations pertaining to AI that follow the model used by the European Union.
India’s legal changes have traditionally been gradual. Our daily lives are significantly impacted by the rapidly evolving societal paradigms, notions, and technologies. However, outdated statutes are frequently used in the legal system. The Digital India Act might signify a significant turning point by showcasing a capacity for adaptation to changing market trends.
Dr. Mali notes that although India is gradually aligning itself with other countries, there is a significant distinction because of the sizeable number of IT and mobile phone users in India. Effectively spreading legal awareness is also hampered by language problems.