IOA ropes in Legal Experts to analyse the Internet legal framework

MUMBAI: . The Internet & Online Association, a not-for-profit organisation registered under the Societies Act, 1896 has enlisted the help of top legal experts to ascertain the legal matrix within which players in the online and mobile industry operate.

IOA president Preeti Desai says, "The arrest of Avnish Bajaj despite the full cooperation extended to the police by him and other Baazee officials was a drastic step and has shocked the e-community, nationally and internationally. The criticism has been pungent since the law suffers from the inadequacies of uncertainty that resulted in the arrest and detention of a cooperative professional who was not directly involved in the wrongdoing. An example of the vacuous nature of the statutory provision under which Avnish Bajaj has been arrested is that the 'due diligence' which he allegedly has not undertaken is not defined in the law - even though claims to have taken the listing down of its own accord based on its due diligence and before the Police started any investigation. We at the IOA will convene a cohesive dialogue and build informed consensus amongst all stakeholders to facilitate the amendment of applicable laws and assist policymakers and civil society in achieving a better understanding of the legal environment needed for the facilitation of the development of the Internet and to drive economic growth".



In the light of the current Baazee case, IOA though it was imperative that they engage in consultations with top legal experts on the vital aspect of a legal framework for facilitating the growth of the Internet.

The legal experts include Shardul Shroff and his team at Amarchand Mangaldas as the legal consultants as well as Amit Desai to advise IOA on legal issues.

Amarchand Mangaldas will:

1). Prepare a memorandum analyzing the legal framework related to

a. The online and mobile publication of obscene and/or seditious material

b. The commission of fraud on the Internet

c. Suggest suitable amendments to the same.

2) Prepare a paper which will help IOA in their evangelizing efforts towards members pertaining to liabilities under IT Act 2000.

3) Conduct workshops along with IOA on these vital issues.

The sub-committee will review the memorandum and propose various workshops to the IT & Communication, Home and Law Ministry's.

The proposed amendments in the memorandum are as follows -

Mangaldas will analyse the liabilities of various players in the online publishing and advertising industry, ecommerce and the mobile content generation and transmission industry with specific references to laws governing pornography, sedition and fraud. On the basis of this analysis Mangaldas will prepare suitable submissions on behalf of the IOA, to be submitted to Government of India highlighting any deficiencies that may be present in the applicable laws and suggesting suitable measures to overcome any deficiency in the laws.

Evangelising efforts towards members on liability issues, the whitepaper for IOA members will discuss the liabilities of various players in the online publishing and advertising industry, ecommerce and the mobile content generation and transmission industry with specific references to laws governing pornography, sedition and fraud - with a specific section on click wrap licenses, dealing both with its enforceability under Indian Law as well as broad terms of use.



Also on the anvil are workshops for law enforcers organised by the IOA. IOC believes that this will be a crucial factor to initiate a process where along with law-enforcers, they help them understand in entirety how the online market functions so that they may be able to identify the role of the various players on the Internet and within the mobile industry, so as to distinguish between originators and intermediaries of potentially harmful content and evaluate the culpability of each link in the chain.

Amarchand Mangaldas managing partner Shardul Shroff says, "The absence of clarity is a deterrent to the business environment. The cyber world and cyberspace has created a boundary-less world and this necessitates an universalisation and commonality of standards and legal concepts to be applied so that India does not become an isolated island excluded from e-commerce activity. Legal uncertainty is detrimental to the comparative advantage of India, as a leader in the world of Information Technology and such a disadvantage ought to be urgently neutralized. The attempt of the Subcommittee on Legal Issues is directed to this end."

Counsel Amit Desai adds, "Internet broke down territorial boundaries across the globe. Whilst this created endless business opportunities it also created myriad legal issues. To ensure that there is clarity on liability issues; avoid misuse or abuse of these provisions especially for service providers so that neither the business nor the medium suffers. A second look at the gamut of the Acts and Rules governing this medium is imperative. The Baazee case has brought some of these issues in sharp focus".

IOA chairman Ramani avers, "The IOA would rightfully need to shoulder responsibility to address all these areas. We are glad to have found the right partner in Shardul and his team. We are driving towards finding the right resolutions through all these concerted efforts over the next few weeks."



IOA's activities include evaluating and recommending standards and practices, fielding research to document the effectiveness of the Internet and wireless as interactive mediums and educating the marketing and advertising industry about the use of interactive advertising and e-commerce.

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