Prior to the enactment of this Act, the law applicable to cyber offences was the Indian Penal Code which was enacted long back in 1860 when no one even thought of computer technology or cyber criminality.
With the coming into force of Information Technology Act, 2000, it became necessary to introduce certain consequential changes in certain provisions of the Penal Code as also in the Indian Evidence Act, 1872, in order to meet the new requirements of the cyber space crimes.
With a view to widening the scope of applicability of the provisions of the IPC so as to include within its ambit, offences involving electronic records, a new Section 29-A has been inserted after Section 29 of the Indian Penal Code which reads as follows:—
“29-A. Electronic Record:
The words electronic record shall have the meaning assigned to them in clause (1) of sub-section (1) of Section 2 of the Information Technology Act, 2000.”
Section 2(1) (t) of the Information Technology Act, 2000 defines “electronic record” which 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.”
As a result of this amendment in the Indian Penal Code, all the offences related to “documents” shall also include offences related to “electronic records” which are committed through cyber space or Internet.
The Information Technology Act is based on UNCITRAL Model Law on e-commerce, 1996 in furtherance of the U.N. General Assembly resolution urging the member states to enact or revise their cyber laws to create a uniform environment for regulating e-commerce at the international level.
The object is to “provide legal recognition for transactions carried out by electronic data interchange and other means of electronic communications commonly referred to as e-commerce which involves use of alternatives to paper based methods of communication and storage of information to facilitate electronic filing of documents.” The Act seeks to prevent offences which result out of e-commerce and e-governance.