CYBER LAW – Introduction



“Cyber” is a prefix used to describe a person, thing, or idea as part of the computer and information age. Taken from kybernetes, 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 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 use of inter-networked information technology. In short, cyber law is the law governing computers and the internet.

The growth of Electronic Commerce has propelled the need for vibrant and effective regulatory mechanisms which would further strengthen the legal infrastructure, so crucial to the success of Electronic Commerce. All these regulatory mechanisms and legal infrastructures come within the domain of Cyber law.

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

Cyber law encompasses laws relating to –

  • · Cyber crimes
  • · Electronic and digital signatures
  • · Intellectual property
  • · Data protection and privacy


Defining cyber law Legal Identity


Important terms related to cyber law

Access” with its grammatical variations and cognate expressions means gaining entry into, instructing or communicating with the logical, arithmetical, or memory function resources of a computer, computer system or computer network. (Sec.2(1)(a) of IT Act, 2000)

Addressee” means a person who is intended by the originator to receive the electronic record but does not include any intermediary. (Sec.2(1)(b) of IT Act, 2000)

Affixing Electronic Signature” with its grammatical variations and cognate expressions means adoption of any methodology or procedure by a person for the purpose of authenticating an electronic record by means of Electronic Signature. (Sec.2(1)(d) of IT Act, 2000)

Asymmetric Crypto System” means a system of a secure key pair consisting of a private key for creating a digital signature and a public key to verify the digital signature. (Sec.2(1)(f) of IT Act, 2000)

Certifying Authority” means a person who has been granted a license to issue a Electronic Signature Certificate under section 24. (Sec.2(1)(g) of IT Act, 2000)

Communication Device” means Cell Phones, Personal Digital Assistance (Sic), or combination of both or any other device used to communicate, send or transmit any text, video, audio, or image. (Sec.2(1)(ha) of IT Act, 2000)

Computer” means any electronic, magnetic, optical or other high-speed data processing device or system which performs logical, arithmetic, and memory functions by manipulations of electronic, magnetic or optical impulses, and includes all input, output, processing, storage, computer software, or communication facilities which are connected or related to the computer in a computer system or computer network (Sec.2(1)(i) of IT Act, 2000)

Computer Network” means the interconnection of one or more Computers or Computer systems or Communication device through-

(i) the use of satellite, microwave, terrestrial line, wire, wireless or other communication media; and

(ii) terminals or a complex consisting of two or more interconnected computers or communication device whether or not the interconnection is continuously maintained. (Sec.2(1)(j) of IT Act, 2000)

Computer Resource” means computer, communication device, computer system, computer network, data, computer database or software. (Sec.2(1)(k) of IT Act, 2000)

Computer System” means a device or collection of devices, including input and output support devices and excluding calculators which are not programmable and capable of being used in conjunction with external files, which contain computer programmes, electronic instructions, input data, and output data, that performs logic, arithmetic, data storage and retrieval, communication control and other functions. (Sec.2(1)(l) of IT Act, 2000)

Cyber cafe” means any facility from where access to the Internet is offered by any person in the ordinary course of business to the members of the public. (Sec.2(1)(na) of IT Act, 2000)

Cyber Security” means protecting information, equipment, devices, computer, computer resource, communication device and information stored therein from unauthorized access, use, disclosure, disruption, modification or destruction. (Sec.2(1)(nb) of IT Act, 2000)

(o) “Data” means a representation of information, knowledge, facts, concepts or instructions which are being prepared or have been prepared in a formalized manner, and is intended to be processed, is being processed or has been processed in a computer system or computer network and may be in any form (including computer printouts magnetic or optical storage media, punched cards, punched tapes) or stored internally in the memory of the computer. (Sec.2(1)(o) of IT Act, 2000)

(p) “Digital Signature” means authentication of any electronic record by a subscriber by means of an electronic method or procedure in accordance with the provisions of section 3. (Sec.2(1)(p) of IT Act, 2000)

Electronic Form” with reference to information means any information generated, sent, received or stored in media, magnetic, optical, computer memory, micro film, computer generated micro fiche or similar device. (Sec.2(1)(r) of IT Act, 2000)

Electronic Record” means data, record or data generated, image or sound stored, received or sent in an electronic form or micro film or computer generated micro fiche. (Sec.2(1)(t) of IT Act, 2000)

Electronic signature” means authentication of any electronic record by a subscriber by means of the electronic technique specified in the second schedule and includes digital signature. (Sec.2(1)(ta) of IT Act, 2000)

Function“, in relation to a computer, includes logic, control, arithmetical process, deletion, storage and retrieval and communication or telecommunication from or within a computer. (Sec.2(1)(u) of IT Act, 2000)

Information” includes data, message, text, images, sound, voice, codes, computer programmes, software and databases or micro film or computer generated micro fiche. (Sec.2(1)(v) of IT Act, 2000)

Intermediary” with respect to any particular electronic records, means any person who on behalf of another person receives, stores or transmits that record or provides any service with respect to that record and includes telecom service providers, network service providers, internet service providers, web hosting service providers, search engines, online payment sites, online-auction sites, online market places and cyber cafes. (Sec.2(1)(w) of IT Act, 2000)

Key Pair“, in an asymmetric crypto system, means a private key and its mathematically related public key, which are so related that the public key can verify a digital signature created by the private key. (Sec.2(1)(x) of IT Act, 2000)

Originator” means a person who sends, generates, stores or transmits any electronic message or causes any electronic message to be sent, generated, stored or transmitted to any other person but does not include an intermediary. (Sec.2(1)(za) of IT Act, 2000)

Private Key” means the key of a key pair used to create a digital signature. (Sec.2(1)(zc) of IT Act, 2000)

Public Key” means the key of a key pair used to verify a digital signature and listed in the Digital Signature Certificate. (Sec.2(1)(zd) of IT Act, 2000)

Secure System” means computer hardware, software, and procedure that -:

(a) are reasonably secure from unauthorized access and misuse;

(b) provide a reasonable level of reliability and correct operation;

(c) are reasonably suited to performing the intended functions; and

(d) adhere to generally accepted security procedures. (Sec.2(1)(ze) of IT Act,


Subscriber” means a person in whose name the Electronic Signature

Certificate is issued. (Sec.2(1)(zg) of IT Act, 2000)








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