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“Cyber” is a prefix used to describe a person, thing, or idea as part of the
computer and information age. Taken from Kubernetes, the Greek word for
“steersman” or “governor,” it was first used in cybernetics, a word coined by
Norbert Wiener and his colleagues. The virtual world of the internet is known as
cyberspace and the laws governing this area are known as Cyber Laws and all
the netizens of this space come under the ambit of these laws as it carries a
kind of universal jurisdiction. Cyber law can also be described as that branch
of law that deals with legal issues related to using inter-networked information
technology. In short, cyber law is the law governing computers and the

Cyber law is important because it touches almost all aspects of transactions
and activities and involving the internet, World Wide Web, and cyberspace.
Every action and reaction in cyberspace has some legal and cyber legal

Cyberlaw encompasses laws relating to –

  • Cybercrimes
  •  Electronic and digital signatures
  •  Intellectual property
  •  Data protection and privacy

First Cyber Crime

The first recorded cyber crime took place in the year 1820! That is not
surprising considering the fact that the abacus, which is thought to be the
earliest form of a computer, has been around since 3500 B.C. in India, Japan
, and China. The era of modern computers, however, began with the analytical
engine of Charle Babbage. In 1820, Joseph-Marie Jacquard, a textile
manufacturer in France, produced the loom. This device allowed the repetition
of a series of steps in the weaving of special fabrics. This resulted in a fear
amongst Jacquard’s employees that their traditional employment and livelihood
were being threatened. They committed acts of sabotage to discourage Jacquard from further use of the new technology. This is the first recorded
cyber crime!

Need for Cyber Law

In today’s techno-savvy environment, the world is becoming more and more
digitally sophisticated and so are the crimes. Internet was initially developed as
a research and information sharing tool and was in an unregulated manner. As
time passed by it became more transactional with e-business, e-commerce,
e-governance and e-procurement etc. All legal issues related to internet crime
are dealt with through cyber laws. As the number of internet users is on the
rise, the need for cyber laws and their application has also gathered great

In today’s highly digitalized world, almost everyone is affected by cyber law. For

  • Almost all transactions in shares are in Demat form.
  • Almost all companies extensively depend upon their computer networks
    and keep their valuable data in electronic form.
  • Government forms including income tax returns, company law forms, etc.
    are now filled in electronic form.
  • Consumers are increasingly using credit cards for shopping.
  • Most people are using email, cell phones, and SMS messages for
  • Even in “non-cyber crime” cases, important evidence is found in
  • computers/cell phones e.g. in cases of divorce, murder, kidnapping, tax
    evasion, organized crime, terrorist operations, counterfeit currency etc.
  • Cyber crime cases such as online banking frauds, online share trading
    fraud, source code theft, credit card fraud, tax evasion, virus attacks,
    cyber sabotage, phishing attacks, email hijacking, denial of service,
    hacking, pornography, etc are becoming common.
  • Digital signatures and e-contracts are fast replacing conventional
    methods of transacting business.


In India, cyber laws are contained in the Information Technology Act, 2000 (“IT
Act”) which came into force on October 17, 2000. The main purpose of the Act
is to provide legal recognition to electronic commerce and to facilitate the filing of
electronic records with the Government.
The following Act, Rules, and Regulations are covered under cyber laws:
1. Information Technology Act, 2000
2. Information Technology (Certifying Authorities) Rules, 2000
3. Information Technology (Security Procedure) Rules, 2004
4. Information Technology (Certifying Authority) Regulations, 2001

Penalties and offenses under the IT Act, 2000

Offence Section under IT Act,
Tampering with Computer source
Hacking with Computer systems, Data
Sending offensive messages through
communication service, etc
Retains any stolen computer resource
or communication device
Fraudulent use of electronic signature Sec.66C
Cheats by personating Sec.66D
Publishing obscene images Sec.66E
Cyber terrorism Sec.66F
Publishes or transmits unwanted

Offences under other legislations

Offence Law
Sending threatening messages by
Sec.503 IPC (Indian Penal
Sending defamatory messages by
Sec 499 IPC
Forgery of electronic records Sec.463 IPC
Bogus websites, cyber frauds Sec.420 IPC
IMPORTANT WEBSITES & ADDRESSES – Department of Electronics and Information Technology,
Govt. of India – Cyber crime investigation cell – National Crime Records Bureau – Cyber Appellate Tribunal – Indian Computer Emergency Response Team – Controller of Certifying Authorities – Safescrypt – National Informatics Centre – IDRBT – TCS – MTNL – GNFC – e-Mudhra

Controller of Certifying Authorities
Electronics Niketan,
6 CGO Complex, Lodhi Road,
New Delhi – 110003
FAX : 91-011-24369578

Cyber Appellate Tribunal,
Ministry of Communications and Information Technology,
Department of Information Technology,
Jeevan Bharti (L.I.C.) Building, Ground Floor,
Outer Circle, Connaught Place, New Delhi – 110001
Tel – 011-23355881

Indian Computer Emergency Response Team (CERT-In)
Department of Information Technology,
Ministry of Communications and Information Technology,
Government of India
Electronics Niketan,
6 CGO Complex, Lodhi Road,
New Delhi – 110003
Tel – 011-24368572

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