Thursday, January 12, 2012

India Must Stress Upon International Cyber Law Treaty

United States (US) has been working in the direction of making laws that are primarily targeted towards foreign websites. This means that foreign websites that are indulging in unethical behaviours like cyber crimes, intellectual property rights (IPRs) violations, etc can be forced to be taken down or blocked in US by US government.

While this is a policy decision of US that has been widely criticised yet very few have raised points regarding violations of IPRs by US companies of foreign nationals. For instance, if an Indian has to inform a US website of copyright violation, he has to essentially follow the provisions of Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) 1998. In fact, even those US websites that are themselves not following DMCA and are not entitled to “safe harbour” provisions are insisting upon DMCA notices.

Clearly, US policy towards IP violations of foreign nationals needs to be revised. On the contrary laws like Preventing Real Online Threats to Economic Creativity and Theft of Intellectual Property Act of 2011 (PIPA) and the "Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) has also been proposed. They target foreign nationals and websites with almost no additional liabilities for US websites and citizens. Clearly, US websites and companies are forcing US and other nations to enact laws like SOPA and PIPA by not taking down IPRs violating materials.

If the attitude of US websites and companies is not changed other countries may also consider enacting draconian laws like SOPA and PIPA. In the absence of reciprocal arrangement between US and India, the least India can do to prevent cyber crimes against and IPRs violation of Indian citizens is to block websites that engage in such activities. This is more so for those websites and Internet intermediaries that deliberately ignore compliances of Indian laws.

While laws like SOPA and PIPA are targeting foreign websites including Indian websites yet the foreign websites, including US websites, are not complying with Indian cyber law and copyright law. The Indian Copyright Act, 1957 and Indian Information technology Act, 2000 prescribes various civil, criminal and administrative penalties that are presently not implantable against such foreign websites. India must seriously discuss this issue with US as this also amounts to non compliance of the provisions of Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights Agreement (TRIPS Agreement).

The real problem in this regard seems to be that there is no International cyber law treaty that is universally followed. Different countries have different cyber laws and this result in confusion and non enforcement. Even there is no international cyber security treaty that can be followed globally. International cyber law treaty and Indian role cannot be underestimated in this regard.

India must stress upon formulation of an international cyber law treaty to safeguard the interests of its own citizens as countries like US are doing in the absence of mutual cooperation.