Books

Law and code

Gulshan Rai | Updated on March 25, 2018

Cutline

A new book scans India’s cyber law scenario

NS Nappinai’s book Technology Laws Decoded bridges the gap in our collective understanding of cyber laws. The first impression the book left on me is not just with respect to the scope and depth of subjects covered in it — ranging from the interplay of cyber policies with the Constitutional precepts, cybercrime and electronic evidence to IPR and contracts — but also the in-depth analysis that the author undertakes in each such subject.

The author’s interpretation that cyber laws in India are not just compressed into one enactment i.e., the Information Technology Act, 2000, as amended, but that it is a jigsaw puzzle scattered around multiple enactments, is valid and points to the primary hurdle in effective criminal enforcement against cybercrimes. That said, it also offers a broader understanding of cyber laws and the interplay between multiple laws and provisions in the country.

The analysis of cyber policies in India in the first chapter gives the reader a perspective of the existing policies dealing with emerging technologies, and addresses the reasons behind the Government’s positions.

The comparative analysis of the policies of multiple jurisdictions, which is reflected throughout the book, further sets out how this field of law is evolving and how nations are now brought together through what she describes as the “cyber Pangea” — the coalescing of the world through the borderless cyber domain.

The detailed inputs on the cyber laws and policies from multiple jurisdictions, in the book, will help judges and lawyers as a cyber law reference, and the Government and authorities vested with the responsibility of framing suitable laws and regulations. The analysis of landmark judgments in the field of IT in a clinical and practical manner is also of great relevance. For instance, the author has expounded on the impact of the strike down of S.66A of the IT Act by the Supreme Court in Shreya Singhal v. UOI (2015), from the welcome recognition of the importance of free speech to the other extreme of justice having been denied to genuine cases falling squarely within the ambit of the said provision.

Similarly, Nappinai has addressed the need for a simple mechanism for proving electronic records. Her analysis of the Supreme Court’s interpretation of S.65B(4) of the Indian Evidence Act, in Anver v. Basheer (2014) is bang on. From the time of its inclusion till date, the provision, which was intended to make reliance on electronic records easier, has acted more as an impediment. The legislators and the SC ought to revisit the provision and its interpretation in the light of the arguments presented in the book.

India is now taking its cyber narrative seriously, while its borders are under constant threat and physical security has always been of concern. It has taken extensive steps to protect against the cyber incursions and constant attempts at disrupting peace. The book is an earnest work intended to give guidance on existing laws and policies while acting as a beacon on framing regulations in future.

The easy prose is bound to appeal to both the professional as well as the general reader and will certainly help in not just creating awareness but also ensuring better cyber security hygiene.

The reviewer is National cyber Security Coordinator, National Security Council Secretariat, Delhi

Published on March 25, 2018

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