What is the introductory background for Cyberlaws ?
the beginning of civilization, man has always been motivated by
the need to make progress and better the existing technologies.
This has led to tremendous
development and progress which has been a launching pad for further
development. Of all the significant
advances made by mankind from the beginning till date,
probably the important of them is the development of Internet.
To put in a common man’s language, Internet is a global network
of computers, all of them speaking the same language. In 1969,
America's Department of Defense commissioned the construction
of a Super network called ARPANET. The Advanced Research Projects
Agency Network (ARPANET), basically intended as a military network
of 40 computers connected by a web of links & lines. This
network slowly grew and the Internet was born. By 1981, over 200
computers were connected from all around the world. Now the figure
runs into millions.
real power of today's Internet is that it is available to anyone
with a computer and a telephone line. Internet places at an individual's
hands the immense and invaluable power of information and communication.
usage has significantly increased over the past few years. The
number of data packets which flowed through the Internet have
increased dramatically. According to International Data Corporation
("IDC"), approximately 163 million individuals or entities
will use the Internet by the end of this year as opposed to 16.1
million in 1995. If
left to its own measure, it is highly unlikely that such a trend
can reverse itself. Given this present state of the Internet,
the necessity of Cyberlaws becomes all the more important.
Why is there
a need for Cyberlaw ?
Internet was developed, the founding fathers of Internet hardly
had any inclination that Internet could transform itself into
an all pervading revolution which could be misused for criminal
activities and which required regulation. Today,
there are many disturbing things happening in cyberspace.
Due to the anonymous nature of the Internet, it is possible to
engage into a variety of criminal activities with impunity and
people with intelligence, have been grossly misusing this aspect
of the Internet to perpetuate criminal activities in cyberspace.
Hence the need for
What is Cyberlaw ?
is believed to be full of anarchy and a system of
law and regulation therein seems contradictory. However,
cyberspace is being governed by a system of law and regulation
called Cyberlaw. There is no one exhaustive definition of the
term “Cyberlaw”. Simply
speaking, Cyberlaw is a generic term which refers to all the legal
and regulatory aspects of Internet and the World Wide Web. Anything
concerned with or related to or emanating from any legal aspects
or issues concerning any activity of netizens and others, in Cyberspace
comes within the ambit of Cyberlaw.
The growth of Electronic Commerce has propelled the need
for vibrant and effective regulatory
mechanisms which would further strengthen the legal infrastructure,
so crucial to the success of Electronic Commerce. All these regulatory
mechanisms and legal infrastructures come within the domain of
What is the importance of Cyberlaw ?
is important because it touches almost all aspects of transactions
and activities on and concerning the Internet, the World Wide
Web and Cyberspace. Initially it may seem that Cyberlaws is a
very technical field and that it does not have any bearing to
most activities in Cyberspace. But the actual truth is that nothing
could be further than the truth. Whether we realize it or not,
every action and every reaction in Cyberspace has some legal and
Cyber legal perspectives.
Does Cyberlaw concern me ?
Cyberlaw does concern me. As the nature of Internet is changing
and this new medium is being seen as the ultimate medium ever
evolved in human history, every activity of yours in Cyberspace
can and will have a Cyberlegal perspective.
From the time you register your Domain Name, to the time
you set up your web site, to the time you promote your website,
to the time you conduct electronic commerce transactions on the
said site, at every point of time, there are various Cyberlaw
issues involved. You may not be bothered about these issues today
because you may feel that they are very distant from you and that
they do not have an impact on your Cyber activities. But sooner
or later, you will have to tighten your belts and take note of
Cyberlaw for your own benefit.
example, you may knowingly or unknowingly book a Domain Name,
say www.xyx.com which may be the trade mark of any other company,
person or legal entity in any part of the world, say B. Domain
Names are given to you on first come first served basis. But you
may be involved by the other party being B in a Cyber legal dispute
which may allege that you are deliberately involved in the practice
of Cyber squatting (the practice of knowingly registering the
trade mark of any legal entity, company or person with the intention
of holding on to it and thereafter selling the same to the said
legal entity, company or person at a handsome premium).
You may also be involved in Cyber litigation as the concerned
party, B, may approach the World Intellectual Property Organisation
(WIPO) for adjudicating the matter and WIPO by a summary procedure
may direct you to relinquish and release the said Domain Name
to B, the concerned party. Needless to say, it shall be incumbent
on the concerned party, B, to produce all documentary and other
evidence to substantiate its claim to the concerned Domain Name.
This is just one of the many examples that show the importance
of Cyberlaw for you.
What is the general awareness about Cyberlaw today ?
the awareness about Cyberlaw is beginning to grow.
Many technical experts in the beginning felt that legal
regulation of Internet is not necessary. But with the rapid growth
of technologies and Internet, it is crystal clear that no activity
on Internet can remain free from the influence of Cyberlaw. Publishing
a Web page is an excellent way for any commercial business or
entity to vastly increase its exposure to millions of persons,
organisations and governments world-wide. It is that feature of
the Internet which is causing much controversy in the legal community.
Is Cyberlaw constantly evolving ?
Cyberlaw is constantly being evolved. As new and new opportunities
and challenges are surfacing, Cyberlaw, being a
constantly evolving process, is suitably modifying itself
to fit the call of the time. As the Internet grows, numerous legal
issues arise. These issues vary from Domain Names, to Intellectual
Property Rights to Electronic Commerce to Privacy to Encryption
to Electronic Contracts to Cybercrime to Online Banking to Spamming
and so on. The list is very long.
What is the stage of development of Cyberlaw today ?
today, on a global scale,
is at an early stage of development. Just as different
civilizations and societies in history have taken time to develop
and refine their legal systems, in the case of Internet too, it
will take some time for Cyberlaws to be fully developed and refined.
Different countries in different parts of the world are adopting
their own strategies to this new field.
is an IP address ?
The Internet is a network of computers.
Each computer on the said network
has its own distinct entity and presence. That is the reason why
every computer is given a distinct Electronic Address called
the Internet Protocol
address or in short IP address. This IP address is given by
numerical values like 22.214.171.124.
The IP address is just like any telephone number which
identifies a particular computer on the Internet.
is a Domain Name ?
Since it is not possible to remember each
and every numerical value of an IP address, the system of
domain names evolved. Internet
domain names, in a common man's language, are used as an
easy-to-remember alias which point to a specific IP address.
The dominant purpose
of the domain name is simply to provide an easy method for remembering
another's electronic address. It's a unique name used to
identify, among other things, a specific Web site.
Thus a typical domain name would be http://www.indiainfoline.com.
are the components of a Domain Name ?
Any domain name consist of
two components, namely the top level domain name(TLD) and
a second level domain name. Thus in the said example, http://www.indiainfoline.com,
".com" would be the top level domain name while
"indiainfoline" would be second level domain name.
are the categories of Top Level Domain Names (TLDs)?
As on date, there are two categories of
top level domain names. In the first category comes the
domain names .com, .net, .org, .edu. When the system of
registering domain names
began, the norms were that
the .com name is
to be given to commercial organizations, while others
such as .org, .net, .gov and .edu
are to be assigned to non-commercial organizations, network
providers, government agencies and educational institutions respectively.
However, as time has passed, due to the enhanced volumes of domain
name registrations, the said norms have been abandoned and
today anyone can, without any restriction of any kind whatsoever,
can register any domain name.
second category of top level domain names
is the country code TLDs denoted by a two letter
country code. For instance, the top level domain name for
India is .in. The
responsibility for assigning the same is given in each country
to a specified country domain name registrar.
In India, the TLD.in is registered by NCST at Bombay.
registers Domain Names ?
The domain names were initially registered
by Network Solutions only, who had the sole monopoly to register
the said TLDs. This monopoly of Network Solutions continued for
many years and only in 1999, the Internet Corporation Assigned
Names and Numbers (ICANN) allowed other accredited registrars
to register domain names. Today there are more than 100 registrars
with whom one can register a TLD.
What is the unique feature of Domain Names ?
The unique feature of domain names is that
the said domain names are given on
"first come, first served" basis.
This feature of domain names gives rise to numerous
legal issues and disputes.
Thus the important thing in domain names registration is
speed. To take an example, the domain name www.microsoft.org was
available and was registered by Amit Mehrotra much before Microsoft
Corporation could think of it. This led to numerous ticklish legal
issues. Microsoft Corporation, despite having the trademark
Microsoft, could not get the domain name www.microsoft.org because
of the "first come, first served" criteria of domain
are Domain Names different from Trade Marks ?
To put it simply, Domain names are indeed
different from trademarks. While it is possible
that the same trademark may be registered
by different persons in different categories and
different lines of businesses, it may be possible to only
register one domain name corresponding to such trademark. This
aspect of domain names has led to numerous legal problems.
is Cybersquatting ?
Another legal issue surrounding domain names is
that of Cybersquatting.Cybersquatting is the practice by means
of which a person or
legal entity books up the trade mark, business name or service
mark of another as his own domain name for the purpose of holding
on to it and thereafter selling the same domain name to
the other person for valuable premium and consideration.
Cybersquatters book up domain names of important brands in the
hope of earning quick millions .
are the recent trends relating to tackling Cybersquatters ?
The Internet history has shown that while
some corporate players have been willing
to and have indeed coughed up money to get back their legitmate
domain names, the recent trend is more towards taking the cybersquatters
by the horns and fighting them out by legal processes. Courts
throughout the world, including in India,
have been proactive and have been granting injunctions
to stop cybersquatters from operating their web sites.
What is the latest most effective remedy against Cybersquatting
The latest breath of fresh air in the fight
against Cybersquatting has been the Uniform Domain Name
Dispute Resolution Policy which has been duly approved by
ICANN. Under the said Domain Names Dispute Resolution Policy,
a summary procedure is adopted to adjudicate the complaint of
any complainant relating to any domain name on payment of
processing fees. This policy has been in operation since the end of last
the Uniform Domain Name Dispute Resolution Policy, have the
Indian companies had
any success ?
the said policy, Indian companies
are also beginning
to get back
their legitimate domain names. The domain name www.theeconomictimes.com
and www.timesofindia.com have been won back under the said
policy. Two recent
success for Indian Companies under the
said policy include winning back the domain names www.tata.org
and www.philipsindia.com by TATA and Philips India respectively.
is Cybercrime ?
When Internet was developed, the founding
fathers of Internet hardly had any inclination that Internet
could also be misused for criminal activities.
Today, there are
many disturbing things happening in cyberspace. Cybercrime
refers to all the activities done with criminal
intent in cyberspace. These could be either
the criminal activities in the conventional
sense or could be activities, newly evolved with the growth
of the new medium. Because of the anonymous nature
of the Internet, it is possible
to engage into a variety of
criminal activities with impunity and people with intelligence,
have been grossly misusing this aspect of the Internet to perpetuate
criminal activities in cyberspace.
The field of Cybercrime is just emerging and new forms
of criminal activities in cyberspace are coming to the forefront
with the passing of each new day.
Do we have any one exhaustive definition of Cybercrime
There can be no one exhaustive definition
However, any activities
which basically offend human sensibilities, can also be included
in its ambit. Child Pornography on the Internet constitutes one serious Cybercrime.
Similarly, online pedophiles, using internet to induce minor children
into sex, are as much Cybercriminals as any others.
are the various categories of Cybercrimes ?
Cybercrimes can be basically
divided into 3 major categories being Cybercrimes against persons,
property and Government.
us more information about Cybercrimes against persons ?
Cybercrimes committed against
persons include various crimes like transmission of child-pornography,
harassment of any one with
the use of a computer such
as e-mail, and cyber-stalking.
The trafficking, distribution,
posting, and dissemination of obscene material including pornography,
indecent exposure, and child pornography, constitutes one of the
most important Cybercrimes known today. The potential harm of
such a crime to humanity can hardly be overstated. This is one
Cybercrime which threatens to undermine the growth of the younger
generation as also leave irreparable scars and injury on the younger
generation, if not controlled.
Is Cyber harassment also a Cybercrime ?
is a distinct Cybercrime. Various kinds of harassment can
and does occur in cyberspace, or through the use of cyberspace.
Harassment can be sexual, racial, religious, or other. Persons
perpetuating such harassment are also guilty of cybercrimes. Cyber
harassment as a crime also brings us to another related area of
violation of privacy of netizens. Violation of privacy of online
citizens is a Cybercrime of a grave nature. No one likes any other
person invading the precious and extremely touchy area of his
or her own privacy which the medium of Internet grants to the
are Cybercrimes against
The second category of Cybercrimes
is that of Cybercrimes against all forms of property. These crimes
include unauthorized computer trespassing through cyberspace,
computer vandalism, transmission of harmful programs, and unauthorized
possession of computerized information.
hacking a Cybercrime ?
Hacking and cracking are
amongst the gravest Cybercrimes known till date.
It is a dreadful feeling to know that a stranger has broken
into your computer systems without your knowledge and consent
and has tampered with precious confidential data and information.
Coupled with this , the actuality is that no computer system in
the world is hacking proof. It is unanimously agreed that any
and every system in the world can be hacked. The recent denial
of service attacks seen over the popular commercial sites like
E-bay, Yahoo, Amazon and others are a new category of Cybercrimes
which are slowly emerging as being extremely dangerous. Using
one's own programming abilities as also various programmes with
malicious intent to gain unauthorized access to a computer or
network are very serious crimes. Similarly, the creation and dissemination
of harmful computer programs or virii which do irreparable damage
to computer systems is another kind of Cybercrime. Software piracy
is also another distinct kind of Cybercrime which is perpetuated
by many people online who distribute illegal and unauthorised
pirated copies of software.
is Cybercrime against Government ?
The third category of Cybercrimes
relate to Cybercrimes against Government. Cyber Terrorism is one
distinct kind of crime in this category. The growth of Internet
has shown that the medium of Cyberspace is being used by individuals
and groups to threaten the international governments as also to
terrorise the citizens of a country. This crime manifests itself
into terrorism when an individual "cracks" into a government
or military maintained website.
Is there any comprehensive law on Cybercrime today ?
Since Cybercrime is a newly
specialised field, growing in Cyberlaws, a lot of development
has to take place in terms of putting into place the relevant
legal mechanism for controlling and preventing Cybercrime. As
of now, there is absolutely no comprehensive law on Cybercrime
any where in the world. This is reason that the investigating
agencies like FBI are finding the Cyberspace to be an extremely
difficult terrain. These various Cybercrimes fall into that grey area of Internet
law which is neither fully nor partially covered by the existing
laws and that too in some countries.
Is there any recent case which demonstrates the importance
of having Cyberlaw on Cybercrime within the national jurisdictions
of countries ?
The most recent case of
the virus "I love you" demonstrates the need for having
cyberlaws concerning Cybercrimes in different national jurisdictions.
At the time of the web publication of this feature, Reuters has
reported that "The Philippines has yet to arrest the suspected
creator of the 'Love Bug' computer virus because it lacks laws
that deal with computer crime, a senior police officer said".
The fact of the matter is that there are no laws relating to Cybercrime
in the Philippines. The National Bureau of Investigation is finding
it difficult to legally arrest the suspect behind the 'Love Bug'
computer virus. As such, the need for countries to legislate Cyberlaws
relating to Cybercrime arises on an urgent priority basis.
What is the approach adopted by
US Courts regarding Cybercrimes ?
The courts in United States
of America have already begun taking cognizance of various kinds
of fraud and Cybercrimes being perpetuated in Cyberspace. For
the victims of various Cybercrimes, there is no one healing remedy.
They can either file for civil damages or wait for the
culprits to be nabbed and then to be tried under provisions, existing
or envisaged which are not
comprehensive at all. However,
a lot of work has to be done in this field. Just as human mind
is ingenious enough
to devise new ways for perpetuating crime, similarly, human ingenuity
needs to be channelised into developing effective legal and regulatory
mechanisms to control and prevent Cybercrimes.
Why do we need to fight Cybercrime ?
We all must remember that
Cyberspace is a common heritage of ours which we have inherited
in our life times from the benefits of ever growing technologies.
This Cyberspace is the lifeline of the entire universe and given
its irreversible position today, it is the duty of every netizen
to contribute toward making the said cyberspace free of any trouble
or cybercrime. To
rephrase the famous words of Rabindra Nath Tagore in today's context,
"Where the Cyberspace is without fear or crime and the head
is held high, where knowledge is free, where tireless striving
stretches its arms towards perfection, ….. into that cyber heaven
of freedom, O my father, let our humanity awake."
any Cyberlaw query, Pavan Duggal can be contacted at his email
firstname.lastname@example.org , email@example.com.