Cyber law is associated with all the areas of business which have a technological bend. In this article, we will look at six areas of concern for a cyber law namely, e-commerce, online contracts, business software patenting, e-taxation, e-governance, and cyber crimes.
Cyber Law – e-commerce
In simple words, e-commerce is the commercial transaction of services in the electronic format. By definition, e-commerce is:
‘Any transaction conducted over the Internet or through Internet access, comprising the sale, lease, license, offer or delivery of property, goods, services or information, whether or not for consideration, and includes the provision of Internet access.‘
Further, in order to measure e-commerce, the US Census Bureau looks at the value of the services and/or goods sold online. They look at transaction over open networks like the internet and also proprietary networks running Electronic Data Interchange systems.
Browse more Topics under Cyber Laws
- Introduction to Cyberspace
- Cyber Appellate Tribunal
- Digital Signature
- Regulation of Certifying Authorities
- Classification and Provision of Cyber Crimes
- Electronic Record and E-Governance
- Information Technology Act, 2000
Cyber Law – Online Contracts
According to the Indian Contract Act, 1872, a contract needs a proposal and an acceptance of the proposal which transforms into a promise.
Further, a consideration supports the promise and becomes an agreement. Also, an agreement enforceable by law is a contract. In the online environment, a series of contractual obligations form online contracts.
Legally speaking, an online contract has the same pre-requisites as a physical contract. At its most basic level, an online contract needs an online proposal and its online acceptance by the other party.
Further, online contracts are naturally dynamic and multi-layered and the agreement might not occur at a single point in time. Usually, there is a chain of successive events which lead to the formation of a contract.
Cyber Law – Business Software Patenting
A patent protects a process. Copyright, on the other hand, protects an expression. Therefore, patents confer stronger rights than copyrights. Typically, a computer program has thousands of instructions.
Also, every program is unique since it is a combination of logically arranged algorithms. The copyright law covers programs, while the algorithms and techniques qualify for patenting.
For a very long time, programmers could not patent their software since it was believed that it is simply a string of logical instructions.
Further, they were required to store the software in the public domain as the basic tools of scientific and technological work.
However, subsequently, it was granted patent rights for industrial purposes. As the internet and e-commerce industry matured, business software patents evolved too.
Cyber Law – e-taxation
As e-commerce grew, commercial transactions across country borders increased too. This led to debates over the issue of taxation.
Many national tax administrations consider e-commerce as having the potential to create new revenue streams while presenting challenges to the national tax systems. This is because new technologies are creating possibilities for tax avoidance and evasion.
For accurate tax computation, the tax authorities need a system which provides information regarding the transacting parties, the volume of transaction and the date, time, and place of the transaction.
While many experts believe that the existing regulations (domestic and international) are enough for e-commerce transactions, there is a need for modifying and adjusting the existing laws due to the inherently global nature of e-commerce.
Cyber Law – e-governance
According to the World Bank, e-governance is the efficient use of information and technology by government agencies.
It helps them transform their relations with citizens, businesses, and other government agencies. Also, e-governance involves the use of technology-enabled initiatives for improving –
- The interaction between the government and citizens or businesses: e-services
- The government’s internal operations: e-administration
- The external interactions: e-society
Cyber laws support e-governance practices. They promote initiatives like electronic filing of documents with Government agencies, use of digital signatures, etc.
Cyber Law – Cyber Crimes
Cyber Crime is when an individual intentionally uses information technology to produce destructive and harmful effects on the tangible and/or intangible property of others.
It has no national boundaries and is usually a term for criminal activities involving a computer or a network as a tool or a target. Here are some common definitions of cybercrime:
Marc M Goodman – A computer crime (cybercrime) is classified into three categories:
- A crime where a computer is a target
- Crimes where a computer is a tool
- Crimes where a computer is instrumental
Nandan Kamath – Since the internet is composed of computers, crimes on the internet are computer crimes. Further, he classifies computer crime into these three categories:
- A computer is the subject of the crime – stolen or damaged
- A computer is the site of the crime – a fraud or copyright infringement
- Also, a computer used as the instrument of a crime – illegal access of other machines or hacking.
Suresh T Vishwanathan – He defines computer crime as:
- Any illegal action where a computer is a tool or object of a crime.
- Any incident associated with computers where a perpetrator intentionally tries to gain
- Computer abuse – any illegal unethical or unauthorized behaviour pertaining to automatic processing and transmission of data.
There are some authors who argue that cybercrime is one committed using the internet, abusing the features of the internet, and the absence of geographical boundaries. New technologies, unwittingly, promote cybercrime since they allow miscreants to access sensitive data easily like keyloggers, etc.
Solved Question on Cyber Law
Q1. Which are the six primary areas of concern for a cyber law?
The six areas of concern are e-commerce, online contracts, business software patenting, e-taxation, e-governance, and cyber crimes.