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You could be jailed if you comment on this post

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Well, its possible. You could go to jail if your comment is not in compliance with the dreaded IT Act.  If you have been watching the news lately, you know what this means. Here is the Information technology act of 2000, amended in 2008, in full, sourced from a government site (Meghalaya police site!). You want to find the things added in 2008, just search for "ITAA 2008" or "ITA 2008" in this document. The act was formulated in 2000, but the amendments made in 2008 have created this situation where its fairly easy to harass any heavy internet and social media user today.

Go to page 24 of this document, section "66 A" is what is being discussed around.

66 A Punishment for sending offensive messages through communication service, etc. ( Introduced vide ITAA 2008)  

Any person who sends, by means of a computer resource or a communication device,- 
a) any  information that is grossly offensive or has menacing character; or 
b) any  information which he knows to be false, but for the purpose of causing annoyance, inconvenience, danger, obstruction, insult, injury, criminal intimidation, enmity, hatred, or ill will, persistently makes by making use of such computer resource or a communication device, 
 

"Grossly offencive" or "menacing character" - anyone's call on how these terms are to be applied.

IT Act 2000 2008 amendments

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silkboard's picture

the original press release announcing this ...

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Interestingly enough, the PIB post that announced these amendments was pretty silent on 66A. Perhaps back then, they probably didn't think of 66A as a signnificant amendment.

On source: http://pib.nic.in/newsite/erelease.aspx?relid=53617 notice how there is no mention of section 66 at all. And the purpose of original act of 200 is stated like this:

The Information Technology Act was enacted in the year 2000 with a view to give a fillip to the growth of electronic based transactions, to provide legal recognition for e-commerce and e-transactions, to facilitate e-governance, to prevent computer based crimes and ensure security practices and procedures in the context of widest possible use of information technology worldwide.

One would think that the section 66A of 2008 goes towards the "computer based crimes" objective.

silkboard's picture

The expert committee didn't talk of section 66A!

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Right here (link to govt site) are the reports of expert committee that proposed amendments to IT Act 200.

Interestingly enough, here is what the summary report says (this doc), on page 3:

... Language of Section 66 related to computer related offences has been revised to be in lines with Section 43 related to penalty for damage to computer resource ... Sometimes because of lack of knowledge or for curiosity, new learners/Netizens unintentionally or without knowing that it is not correct to do so end up doing certain undesirable act on the Net.  For a country like India where we are trying to enhance the positive use of Internet and working towards reducing the digital divide, it need to be ensured that new users do not get scared away because of publicity of computer related offences.

Isn't it ironic that the expert committee wanted to ensure that new users don't get scared away, but now, exactly the opposite may be happenig!

If you see the other doc (the full recommendation), 66A as it exists today isn't there at all. Hope there is some documented history behind how 66A got added, and who were the experts that recommended it.

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