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The future of the Internet?

"Two- thirds of world's Internet users are from developing world. Globally, there are 4 billion people not yet using the Internet and more than 90 % of them are from the developing world", says the 2014 ICT facts and figures of International Telecommunications Union. Though plausibly contradicting, the figures with Indian position are only positively astonishing. With a population of 5,000,000 users in the year 2000, India has crossed over 195,248,950 internet users by the end of 2013. Now, India is world's third largest internet user after the U.S and China. Today, internet is an equitable necessary facility to all of its users available on reasonable rates and ratios. Thus the future of Internet in India, though secured or not, is but only showing tempting corroboration.

"Access" is the keyword of Internet usage, which is what with its users have found utility for. Internet in India has opened easy access routes to vital service platforms including education, commerce and information technology. However, to induce development of the nation, the transactions via internet has to be suitably regulated with law. The rates of fraud, offences and crime within internet activities are also alarming in India. Cyber law awareness as well is a concern of lesser interest for internet users in India. Unlike in the conventional modes of data communication & transaction, potential threats are more probable through internet. Most of the existing safeguards under the current legal framework lack professional touch of expertise.

Electronic Commerce, Social networking and Data communication are three current hotspots of internet utility in India. Electronic Commerce has brought speedy and cheaper services for a consumer. The Information Technology Act, 2000 is the first and foremost Cyber law of India. But the implications of Indian cyber laws over online transactions are lesser known to Indian consumers. They are unaware as to how their rights are protected through these cyber laws. Like the Consumer Protection Act, 1986, the law governing online transactions are also a must education for a 'consumer' of online services. With such state of affairs, the status and legal prospects for E-Commerce transactions in India is now swaying into uncertainty.

Social networking is a parallel plot for internet utility to E-Commerce in India. A report on social media in India by the internet and Mobile Association of India (IAMAI) and Indian Market Research Bureau (IMRB) indicates that the number of social media users in urban India reached 62 million by December 2012. This rising internet corroboration is now easily possible with the affordability of smart phones. True, technological advancement is the foremost factor which sustains a developed nation. However, the channelization of internet utility is not utterly productive in India due to technological enslavement. This requires change in attitude of the users.

The legal regulation of Internet activities in India should be a concern of priority for the Government. The I.T Act, 2000 is known for its lack of foundation as a beneficial piece of legislation. Though it defines many concepts in one spine, modeled from the UNCTITRAL Model Law on Electronic Commerce Transactions, it only pays little effort to encourage an environment to make laws regulating E-Commerce or internet activities to be transparent and effective. The Indian Contract Act, 1872, Indian Penal Code, 1860, The Consumer Protection Act, 1986, Law on Intellectual property and taxation etc has to be read alone for a comprehensive regulation of internet activities which makes the regulatory aspects scattered over pieces of legislation. In its current form, the IT Act is almost inadequate to perform as a comprehensive Cyber law of India. It is in the better interest of India that there be efforts to fashion the IT Act into a substantive Cyber law and thereby leveling itself to its global counterparts.

The difficulty to trace evidences and proving the genuineness of the same in courts has been a hindrance to lower the cyber crime rates in India. The expertise in operating hardware and software systems is also lacking in regulatory sectors. To overcome the hindrances, the need of the hour would be a collective action from all of the stake holders so as to cut out an effective techno-legal framework governing the productive internet activities.

C.P Sabari