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Cyber Sovereignty and Legal Aspects

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With the rapid development and application of network information technology, the Internet has already become a necessary basic factor for the survival of the peoples and an indispensable infrastructure for all countries in the world[1]. It has become the fifth dimension in addition to land, sea, air and sky. Network technology has been widely used in the management of political, economic, social, military and other aspects, and the cyber is seen as the “neural system” on which sovereign states depend for survival and development.

Cyber security issues have been emerging in various countries recently, and countries around the world are beginning to build their own cyber security systems. The origin of all cyber security activities come from the “Cyber sovereignty”. “Sovereignty” refers to the supreme and exclusive power of administration over matters within a certain jurisdiction. “Cyber sovereignty” is a natural extension of national sovereignty in the cyber space.

There are different opinions on the cyber security building. When the meaning of “Internet freedom” is significant, we believe that the words “cyber sovereignty” are the first and foremost in the cyber security system building. And cyber sovereignty itself is a foundation of all corresponding activities. Theoretically, the cyber space has no boundaries, but legally, it is not out of reach of law. It is impossible for any country to get absolute security. Emphasizing the role of cyber sovereignty in the cyber security building does not mean shutting down the cyber and secluding the country from the outside world.

The international community should build a new cyber governance order based on mutual respect for cyber sovereignty and sovereign equality. Shared governance should be the future of cyber sovereignty.

BASIC PRINCIPLES OF CYBER SOVEREIGNTY

 The relationship between national cyber sovereigns is essentially the relationship between sovereign states. Respect for cyber sovereignty means respecting other countries’ right to cyber independence and not taking actions to disrupt the independent operation of other countries’ cyber. Mutual non-aggression means not to attack other countries’ cyber. Non-interference in each other’s internal cyber affairs means not to interfere with a sovereign state’s cyber jurisdiction. The equality in cyber sovereignty means that sovereign states are equally entitled to cyberspace co-governance, rather than adopting the “stakeholders” model to deprive some countries of the right to cyber co-governance while offering others the power to control the global cyberspace. To have all countries jointly build a new order of cyber governance through sharing and co-governance is the direction of the future development of cyber sovereignty.

Laws for Cyber Crime in India

After the adoption of Policy of LPG in 1991, the Indian has grown tremendously in the field or Import-Export and other related ancillary business activities, including the IT Sector. Owing to the need and seriousness of the Cyber Crimes, Hon’ble Parliament of India enacted Information and Technology Act, 2000 which was notified on 17 October, 2000. As from the name itself it can be widely inferred that the Act was having it’s purview and ambit only in the cases dealing with Cyber Crime and Crimes related to the Electronic Commerce.

Here are some of its sections that empower Internet users and attempt to safeguard the cyberspace:

Section 65 – Tampering with computer Source Documents

A person who intentionally conceals, destroys or alters any computer source code (such as programmes, computer commands, design and layout), when it is required to be maintained by law commits an offence and can be punished with 3 years’ imprisonment or a fine of 2 Lakhs INR or both.

Section 66 – Using password of another person

If a person fraudulently uses the password, digital signature or other unique identification of another person, he/she can face imprisonment up to 3 years or/and a fine of 1 Lakh INR.

Section 66D – Cheating Using computer resource

If a person cheats someone using a computer resource or a communication device, he/she could face imprisonment up to 3 years or/and fine up to 1 Lakh INR.

Section 66E – Publishing private Images of Others

If a person captures, transmits or publishes images of a person’s private parts without his/her consent or knowledge, the person is entitled to imprisonment up to 3 years of fine up to 2 Lakhs INR or both.

Section 66F – Acts of cyber Terrorism

A person can face life imprisonment if he/she denies an authorized person the access to the computer resource or attempts to penetrate/access a computer resource without authorization, with an aim to threaten the unity, integrity, security or sovereignty of the nation. This is a non-bailable offence.

Section 67 – Publishing Child Porn or predating children online

If a person captures, publishes or transmits images of a child in a sexually explicit act or induces anyone under the age of 18 into a sexual act, then the person can face imprisonment up to 7 years or fine up to 10 lakhs INR or both.

Section 69 – Govt.’s Power to block websites

If the government feel it necessary in the interest of sovereignty and integrity of India, it can intercept, monitor or decrypt any information generated, transmitted, received or stored in any computer resource. The power is subject to compliance of procedure. Under section 69A, the central government can also block any information from public access.

Section 43A – Data protection at Corporate level

If a body corporate is negligent in implementing reasonable security practices which causes wrongful loss or gain to any person, such body corporate shall be liable to pay damages to the affection person.

CONCLUSION

The sovereign rights and interests of no sovereign state should be violated. The development of Internet technology should never infringe upon the information sovereignty of other countries.

Information sovereignty is one of important contents of national sovereignty in the Internet era, which is the development of the national sovereignty in ideological aspect and a reminder to all that no matter how advanced a country’s technology is, it cannot harass other states nor violate their cyber sovereignty.

All countries in the network field have the power to maintain their own information security. We can not allow a world where one or some countries are safe while all or some other are not, or a certain state sacrifices the security of other states to seek its own absolute security.

This is not only the principle of maintaining cyber sovereignty, but also the principle that should be adhered to in cooperation on international governance.


[1]  Hillary Clinton once called communication networks a “new nervous system for our planet”.

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