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-Varsha S. Pillai

The seemingly borderless, transnational and enhancing scope of internet has created a demand
for regulation of cyberspace. The prevalent idea that “you cannot regulate the internet” is being
proved a myth by the governments across the world. This is being done by the governments
and the judiciary of the countries in cooperation with each other, either through Acts passed by
the parliaments or through decree’s which have precedential significance. The perspectives of
the world regarding the Information Technology Age may differ but it is in consensus to the
requirement of legislation to control and curb the misuse of the internet.

The second fallacy is to believe that the Internet is solely electronic, which is indeed strenuous
to control. But we fail to realise that internet communications are not just a matter of signals
but they are signals sent by people and institutions. The communicators including the senders,
recipients and intermediaries are living, breathing people, who live somewhere in real space in
flesh and blood rather than virtual ones, or they are legally organized institutions with physical
domiciliary origins and physical hardware. For example, even though there is no actual
physical representation during the proposal of a contract by the offeror through e-mail, it is still
a valid offer and if the offeree chooses to acknowledge and accept it, again the acceptance can
be conveyed through e-mail and once the communication of acceptance is received by the
offeror, the contract is said to be valid. Hence the arms of law can extend to them. It may be
possible to evade such law, but the same is true when it comes to any of the regulation. Just
because a law cannot exhaustively stop an activity, it does not prove that such law is ineffective
or undesirable.

Even as the Information age has opened the door to a digitalized and improvised era, same as
Newton’s third law of motion which states “every action has an equal and opposite reaction.”
The Information revolution also has its own share of counter-revolution to offer. Every time
there is a supreme change in the society it affects all social, economic as well as judicial
institutions of a country. The information revolution was no exception to this rule. Hence, to
protect the people from the counter-effects of the revolution due to large scale launch of the
internet was the ideology behind the introduction of regulations in cyber space.

Over the past decade internet has metamorphosed from a research tool to a forum for popular
culture. The global computer network comprises of the internet, World Wide Web, together
with a whole host of other means for communication such as chat rooms which has attracted
millions of regular users. The number of internet users are increasing as the technology
becomes ever more accessible. As the number of the users increases, the purpose for which
they turn to the internet has also diversified. It is common to use the Internet or Web as a library
or information source, for one-to-one communication and more open discussion, as a market
place for buying and selling of goods, services etc. (E-commerce) and as a means for
facilitating other experiences via participation in the new “worlds” which have their existence
only in the medium of cyberspace such as social media websites like Facebook and Twitter.

The internet can be referred to as a collection of technologies or an international network of

networks. It comprises of a number of different ways to organize, transmit and access data.
Due to the multiplicity of systems which incorporates characteristics of several other media
and communication systems including print, broadcast and postal systems. Thus as it is the
combination of various systems and since we have laws governing issues related to each of the
other systems, it seems only suitable that there be a set of laws or tools to regulate the issues
which arise in cyberspace (or Internet).

The internet today is a unique way of communication which allows the users to express their
ideas, views and opinions directly to the world audience, and provide access to the views and
opinions of others as well and information otherwise which they do not have access to. It is the
only mass media medium wherein it has the ability and potential to give each one of us a voice
with the reach of a Newspaper or Television but with the intimacy and responsiveness of
telephone. Here also the principle of conflict and disagreement applies, exactly as in personal
and general laws we have rules to regulate and dissolve conflicts, in cyberspace it is
fundamental that, there be regulations to keep a check on the usage and users as well. Then the
question which can be raised is - Why is there a need for a separate legislation or regulation,
Why can’t cyberspace be regulated with the already existing laws? The answer rests in the
identification of jurisdiction and determination & classification of offences which can be
committed in cyberspace (cybercrimes)1, again for which we need rules. Hence the requirement
for regulation in cyberspace is more than ever. Among cybercrimes’ the ones which have
become a major nuisance in recent times are sexual exploitation of minors through social
media, propagation of anti-national schemes and organizations, hacking national security files
(unauthorized access), e-commerce disputes and further the privacy issues.

If we track the growth of regulations regarding cyberspace in India, we conclude that we need
to avoid rushing into legislation where none is needed, or where the need for it is not yet been
clearly demonstrated, that is very few cases have been decided in courts dealing with issues
identified as likely to cause problems in electronic commerce. India is actively engaged in
projects which have the potential to notably influence the direction of internal regulation in a
number of areas apposite to electronic commerce.

The necessity of regulations in cyber space has never been as evident as it is in this decade. It
is high time that we introduce more regulations like the Information Technology Act, 2000 or
other laws which supports or compliments the IT Act.