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Centre Blocks Mobile Messenger Apps Being Used By The Terrorists

Context:

The Central government has recently blocked 14 mobile messenger applications being used by terror groups.

  • These applications were mostly being used by Over Ground Workers of different terrorist organisations based in Jammu and Kashmir to spread the message and to receive notifications from Pakistan.
  • They were also being used to further terror propaganda and incite youths in Jammu and Kashmir.

Relevance:

GS III- Science and Technology

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. What is the IT Act?
  2. Section 69 of the IT Act

What is the IT Act?

  • The year 2000 saw the rise of IT Bill which it received assent of President and hence came to be the Information Technology (IT) act in which Cyber laws are contained.
  • The Aim of the Act was to provide legal infrastructure for e-commerce in India.
  • The Information Technology Act, 2000 also aims to provide for the legal framework so that legal sanctity is accorded to all electronic records and other activities carried out by electronic means. The Act states that unless otherwise agreed, an acceptance of contract may be expressed by electronic means of communication and the same shall have legal validity and enforceability.
  • In India, the Information Technology (IT) Act, 2000, as amended from time to time, governs all activities related to the use of computer resources.
  • It covers all ‘intermediaries’ who play a role in the use of computer resources and electronic records.
  • The role of the intermediaries has been spelt out in separate rules framed for the purpose in 2011- The Information Technology (Intermediaries Guidelines) Rules, 2011.

Amendment to the IT Acth4

  • The Information Technology (Amendment) Act, 2008 – An act to amend the IT Act 2000 received the assent of the President on 5th February 2009.

It dealt with various changes such as:h4

  • Data Protection –with no specific reference to Data Protection in 2000 Act, the ITA 2008 introduced two sections addressing Data Protection, Section 43A (Compensation for failure to protect data), and Section 72A (Punishment for disclosure of information in breach of lawful contract.
  • Information Preservation – Section 67C refers to the Preservation and Retention of Information by Intermediaries. According to Central Government, any intermediary who intentionally or knowingly contravenes the provisions shall be punished with an imprisonment for a term which may extend to 3 years and shall not be liable to fine.
  • Section 69 gives power to issue directions for interception or monitoring or decryption of any information through any computer source.
    • Section 69B authorizes to monitor and collect traffic data or information through any computer resource for Cyber security.

Section 69 of the IT Act

  • It confers on the Central and State governments the power to issue directions “to intercept, monitor or decrypt any information generated, transmitted, received or stored in any computer resource”.
  • The grounds on which these powers may be exercised are:
  • In the interest of the sovereignty or integrity of India, defence of India, the security of the state.
  • Friendly relations with foreign states.
  • Public order, or for preventing incitement to the commission of any cognizable offence relating to these.
  • For investigating any offence.

Procedure for Blocking Apps

  • Powers to Block: The Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MeitY) has been given the power to block access to information, similar to the Ministry of Information & Broadcasting, since 2009.
  • IT Rules: The powers of the MeitY are derived from the IT Act, and the procedure for blocking access to information is explained in the Information Technology (Procedure and Safeguards for Blocking for Access of Information by Public) Rules, 2009 or the IT Rules, 2009.
  • Review Committees: The IT Rules include provisions for review committees, fair hearing opportunities, strict confidentiality, and record maintenance by designated officers.
  • Pre-decisional Hearings: However, there have been no recorded instances of the MeitY providing individuals with pre-decisional hearings.

March 2024
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