The over two-decade-old IT Act that regulates India's cyberspace and internet needs to be revised with a new IT law, Union Minister of State for Electronics and Information Technology Rajeev Chandrasekhar said on Tuesday and pitched for a new digital law.
"The basic law that today regulates the cyberspace and the Indian internet is called the IT Act. And the IT Act was enacted in 2000. So it is 22 years old. 22 years in the internet age is like three centuries, five centuries. I think it is clear in our minds, and I think to any observer's mind, that we need a new digital law," Chandrasekhar said at Business Today Crypto Conclave 2022.
The minister said that the new digital law should address not just all the opportunities and rules around those opportunities but also user harm issues and other areas around the internet for which currently there are no rules.
"For example, the openness, how do we ensure that the App store duopoly is addressed? How do we make sure that these search engine monopolies are addressed? How do we make sure that these new invasive devices like, you know, the glasses are dealt with? There is on the device side...and then there is this whole new emerging phenomenon of AI and algorithms and ethical use of that, Iris...use of that? So all of these areas that we believe are areas that directly impact the consumer, and need to be in a sense, if not regulated, but at least need to have proper global standard rules for how intermediaries conduct themselves around these areas or manufacturers, as the case may be, need to be framed," he said.
Chandrasekhar said that India's IT Act is a vintage Act that does not even have the word 'internet' in it. "We have an IT act which is 22 years old. We have done some intermediary rules, we will do some cybersecurity roles, we will do some privacy rules...it's all stop gap bandage type of approach. And if anybody has read the IT Act, you know that the word internet does not even exist in the IT Act. And so, you know, that is how vintage the Act is."
Emphasising the need to have a new digital law, the minister said that India should establish a data governance framework because India is an extremely data-intensive country.
"Now with over a billion Indians who are going to go online and be connected to the internet very shortly, the intensity of the public cloud, the expansion of the public cloud is going to be very, very fast in the next two-three years. So we are going to be sitting on huge amounts of data. A data governance framework, a data management, institutional framework, new digital law, data protection law -- these are to be seen as pieces of an overall overarching sort of jurisprudence that will allow both start-ups and innovation to continue to grow and prosper, as well as protect the user and the citizen from all of the risks and ills of the internet," he added.
While he didn't share the precise details and date for announcing the new structure, Chandrasekhar clarified that the government is fairly far along in the process of thinking. The objective of policymaking is that the internet should always be open and will be safe, trusted and accountable towards users and consumers, he said.
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