Thursday, June 9, 2011

Section 43 Of The Information Technology Act, 2000(amended in 2008) And Pollution Of Computers And Data
Internet is a window to me. Well, it is a window to millions of users like me. This window brings in good inflow of knowledge, some sweet breeze of friendships, economic inflow for some, and also dusty wind which carries viruses.  Even those, who do not access internet from their own computers, may bring to their own “safe computers” or to other’s computers all these unwanted pollutions by secondary methods like CDs, Pen drives, Floppies etc. I bet that every common man, woman or a school going child who uses computer, is afraid of pollution of computer.  There are hundreds of modes to pollute a computer ……nonetheless, hundreds of reasons too for doing this mischievous act. The Indian Information Technology Act recognizes two  most prominent modes of polluting the computer under section 43© , i.e introducing or causing to introduce computer contaminant and computer virus. Note that the mode is a two folded mode, i.e either directly introducing or causing to introduce.  This direct or indirect operation includes introduction of any computer contaminant and/or computer virus to the computer as a machine, computer system and the computer network as a whole.
Look at the draftsmen’s  particular observance on the distinguishing feature of ‘computer contaminant’ and ‘computer virus’….explanation to section 43 says under clause (i) that “computer contaminant” is a term which has been used to indicate “any set of instruction” which is designed to (a) modify, (b) destroy, (c) record, (d) transmit  any data or programme residing within a computer . The term also includes any set of instructions which is designed by any means, to  usurp the normal computer operations. This means that this provision penalizes any or the whole activity done in this course.
             Now, coming to the term “computer virus”, the first thing which came in my mind was the usage of the term “virus” in the very thought provoking movie “3 idiots”. The protagonist and others in the movie named the strict disciplinarian head of the institution “Virus”. It was a short form of his name “Veeru Shasrabudhhi”. But I felt that probably the movie wanted to establish the fact that “Virus” was polluting the minds of young aspirant researchers……………..exactly the way computer viruses pollute the data within the computers which may have been produced after real hard work. The legislation aforementioned in its explanation under clause (iii) clarifies what is meant by the term “computer virus”. It is explained as computer instruction, data or information or programmes that can either destroy, damage, degrade, adversely affect the computer functioning; or can attach itself to another computer resource and operate simultaneously when any data , instruction or programme is executed in that computer resource. The language of the legislation therefore indicates that ‘computer virus’ can include ‘computer contaminant’ too. Nonetheless, computer virus and computer contaminant could be the two prominent modes for hacking, besides monitoring and modifying the contents. Section 43 regulates such pollution of the computer (inclusive of computer contamination and polluting the computer through virus attack) by awarding pecuniary sanction of Rupees 1 Crore which the guilty person has to pay as compensation to the person affected as such.
Taking this provision as the base, hacking and modification of the content by such “pollutions” have also been regulated by Information Technology Act, 2008 under Section 65 (especially when the offense includes destruction , alteration of the computer source code which is required to be maintained by law for the time being in force) and section 66 (which includes all the offences as has been mentioned under Section 43, including ‘polluting’ the computer). Section 65 awards sentence which could be either imprisonment term up to 3 years or  pecuniary sanction which may extend to two lakh Rupees , or both; whereas section 66 awards sentence which could be imprisonment which may extend to three years , or pecuniary fine of  five lakh Rupees, or  both.
Hence do not take computer contamination or virus attacks lightly. If you are a programmer and you are asked to create any such programme, think again how it may affect you if you were the victim. If you are the victim, do not encourage any “techy” to beat the wrongdoer. The law is there to help…..however, how far it can be used and executed, remains still a matter of debates.
Please Note: Do not violate copyright of this blog. If you would like to use informations provided in this blog for your own assignment/writeup/project/blog/article, please cite it as “Halder Debarati. (2011), Section 43 of the Information technology Act, 2000(amended in 2008) and pollution of computers and data,9th June,2011 , published in

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