TK Viswanathan Committee (Cyber Security)

  • Committee was formed to assist government in establishing effective legal framework to deal with cybercrimes related to hate speech on internet.
  • The committee was formed after Supreme Court struck down Section 66 A of the Information Technology (IT) Act, 2000 in Shreya Singhal vs. Union of India.
  • Section 66 A of IT Act was added to criminalize sending of offensive messages through a computer or other communication devices.
  • It was tasked to study and examine existing domestic cyber laws and international cyber legislations and propose measures, amendments to present laws.
  • It was also mandated to recommend amendments to Information Technology Act, 2000 and corresponding provisions in IPC, CrPC and Evidence Act to facilitate establishment of strong legal framework to fight cybercrimes.
  • It was also mandated to draw a roadmap taking into account the need of legal competence and expertise on cyber laws from investigation, prosecution and judiciary angles.
  • No need to re-introduce Section 66A but strengthen IPC instead
  • The committee has recommended appointing cybercrime coordinators in all states and establishing cybercrime cells in each district.
  • They will deal with those fomenting trouble or spreading hate against anybody on rounds of religion, race, caste or community, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, language, place of birth or residence, disability or tribe through any means of communication.
  • It has suggested replacing some clauses of the IT Act, 2000 and amending some sections of IPC like 153 (want only giving provocation with intent to cause riot) and 505A (false and mischievous reports intended to upset public tranquillity) to deal with online hate crimes.
  • It has recommended punishment under amended clause dealing with prohibiting incitement to hatred of two years imprisonment or fine of Rs 5,000 or both.
  • It has suggested that offences under amended Section 505A be punishable with imprisonment of up to one year or fine or Rs 5,000 or both.
  • The committee suggested that state cybercrime coordinator should be an officer not below the rank of Inspector General of Police (IGP).
  • The district cybercrime cell should be headed by an officer not below the rank of sub-inspector of police.
Way Forward:
  • Section 66A was struck down as unconstitutional by the Supreme Court on the ground that it violated the basic freedom of expression of the citizens. There is need to balance the liberty of citizens while tackling the issues of hate speech, online harassment-hatred and national security.
  • The real purpose of the committee would be served only when the Parliament takes actions on these recommendations by keeping in mind the spirit of the 2015 Supreme Court judgement.

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