Author – Kajal Mathur (New Law College, Pune)
The research done in the study is a qualitative research. This paper includes Case Laws, Judgments and Legal principle. The researcher also studied various Articles, Blogs and other Research papers. Review of data is on the basis of primary information retrieved from Journals/Publications and expert opinions, various Government as well as International Websites, available on the internet.
We’ve already entered the year 2020 which was supposed to be the great year with new technologies advancements. Two decades ago, we thought to enter 2020 as a new era of technology where cars can fly and everything will be done digitally and many more. But the COVID-19 pandemic is running rampant in sight. This pandemic has taken us to a new path, the path of digitalization. It is necessary to initiate and appeal at this time of crisis, to turn to technologies like the internet and artificial intelligence, which have been widely adopted and seen such tremendous social and financial investments in recent years. However, it is important to ensure that these technologies help, rather than hinder, public health and social trust. The researcher, here has highlighted the key areas where digitalization has taken a new way in this pandemic. It also includes the legal framework or legal aspects in using digital platforms. The last part of this paper includes conclusion.
KEYWORDS: DIGITAL PLATFORMS, LAWS, TECHNOLOGY, DIGITAL INDIA
Technology, a branch of knowledge dealing with innovations, creations for effective use of work. It simplifies the lives of people. In this Dynamic nature of world, innovations play a very important role, proven as necessity in today’s time. Many things that were mere visions of the future, are now reality. In current situation, where we are confined in our houses, digital platforms and E-services performs a vital role in providing us those necessities.
Not only has the country India, WHO has received overwhelming pro-bono support from technology companies to fight with the pandemic. This pandemic has triggered on unprecedented demand for digital health technology solutions. India’s technology advancements are not as good as it should be but there are many programs and initiative by the government through which India is now able to tackle the challenges face in this pandemic.
“DIGITAL INDIA is one of the initiatives proven useful”
In year 2015, the Government of India, came up with a program: DIGITAL INDIA visioning to transform India into a digitally empowered society. It has three essentials factors: Universal Digital Literacy, Delivering Government Services Digitally and Development of Secure and Stable Digital Infrastructure. Digital India is a bridge between Digital “Haves and Non-Haves”. It also ensures that Government services availed by each and every Indian Citizen so that achieved a long-durable development in the country. This pandemic is indirectly helping the Centre’s vision of digital India as many service providers have significantly reduced their offline operations and are asking their customers to embrace the digital form for any assistance. Technology interacts with social, economic and legal frameworks to set the basics ‘affordances” and constraints of human activity over time. Law is and will continue to be a major domain in which the condition of tomorrow is negotiated, and hence Law still prevail over the technology advancements which will provide Reasonable Restrictions to it.
POSITIVE ASPECT OF DIGITALISATION
The COVID-19 pandemic gives us a chance to re-evaluate the worth of digitalization. COVID-19 brings in higher automation and digitalization on Indian sectors.
Let’s study the key areas of Digital consumption which are most affected by this pandemic.
- News Consumption: Compared with the normal days, visits to websites and mobile apps in “News Category” increased by 61%, a high increase than ever. A Smartphone App used by over 60 Million people.
- Government Websites: Consumers have shown increased interest in content hosted on “Government Sites. Compared with the week of March 2020, Websites and Mobile Apps belonging to the Public Sector saw an increase of 29%. Engagement in terms of visits increase by 39% and Time spent on them increase by 27%.
- Health Care Facility: Visit to Health Information Application has been increased by 25%. As people sought Information about the Illness or any other disease and measures to prevent it. Visitation to Health Care Retail Sites has increased by 146% from February to March 2020.
“AROGYA SETU” app, an initiative by Government of India to facilitate quick identification of persons infected by COVID-19, or at risk of being infected, thus acting as a shield for Individuals and the Community.
- E-Sports/Online Gaming: This Pandemic has caused major loss in the Sports Department as many events and tournaments have been cancelled. Here comes E-Sports/ Online Gaming as a savior. Visits to online playing sites have increased by 21%.
- Social Media: Social Media is one of the best ways to share News or alert people of something serious in a very quick manner. Social Media Platforms like Facebook, Instagram, Twitter etc., encourages people to try new things or new challenges to keep themselves busy and entertained. Visiting on Social Media sites app has increased by 61%.
- Online Payment: Many banks are encouraging consumers to use online banking by introducing its benefits including the ease of carrying out any transaction 24/7. UPI and PAYZAPP are some online payment apps which saves time and are convenient to both consumers and servicer.
- E-Contracts: The global outbreak of COVID-19 has changed the way in which business performs. One of the biggest challenges for any transactions or commercial negotiation is signing of documents. Only possible solution to overcome this problem is adoption of electronic contracts. The IT Act 2000 provides legal recognition to electronic records. The Madras High Court in TAMIL NADU ORGANIC PRIVATE LIMITED V STATE BANK OF INDIA Observed that “Contractual Liabilities could arise by way of electronic means and that such contracts could be enforced through law.”
- Virtual court system: Courts are essential part of civil society. The COVID-19 has resulted in extraordinary crisis which has posed many challenges on the ability of the administration of judiciary and justice. Due to alarming up shots in number of new cases, Virtual Court come as savior. In SWAPNIL TRIPATHI V. UNION OF INDIA, the Supreme Court of India has allowed live streaming of court proceeding in all the matters except in rape cases and matrimonial disputes. Till now, 325 judgments have been delivered through video conferencing or online court system.
- E-Education: Due to this pandemic, education system has experienced some major changes, whereby teaching is undertaken remotely and on digital platforms. Due to demand many online learning platforms are offering free access to their service. The move to remote learning has been enabled by several online teach stack such as GOOGLE CLASSROOM, BLACKBOARD, ZOOM etc.
DIGITALISATION AND LAW
Advancement in the Technology has always proved its existence and no industry or sector has been left untouched by it, so the legal sector also. Technology has impacted the Legal Sector in a great manner. As a result, many new technologies and innovations have been found in the Indian legal sector. The impact has rapidly changed the practices in legal field as now Courts and Legal firs are more aware in terms of digitalization and technology.
A. E-Contracts and enforceability by law:
Under the provisions of IT Act, 2000, particularly in Section 10-A, it is clearly mentioned that electronic contracts are valid and enforceable. E-Contracts are those contracts which give aid to Drafting and Negotiating contracts for the consumers and E- commerce. An electronic Contract signed and draft in a digital form and here all the provisions of violations are under the Information Technology Act 2000.
PROVISION IN INFORMATION AND TECHNOLOGY ACT, 2000
Section 11, 12, 13 of IT Act 2000, deal with laws governing E-Contract. One of the main features of E-Contract is digital signature availability. When a contract is entered by the parties through online mode, it is necessary to make it enforceable in the eyes of law. To test its genuineness and to prove that this contract is originated by the originator and accepted by the acceptor, The Digital Signature is taken into the consideration. It is an encryption of an electronic document which is used by the private key.
PROVISIONS IN INDIAN EVIDENCE ACT, 1872
Some provisions of E-Contract were found in Indian Evidence Act 1872, in which the term ‘DOCUMENT” includes any information contained and electronic record which is printed on a paper or recorded in the media in the computer. Such information are in conformity with the SECTION-65B of the Act which states that “The documents shall be admissible in any proceedings, without any further proof or production of the original document before the concerned authority and shall be considered as an evidence of any content of the original or any fact stated therein of which direct evidence would be admissible.”
VALIDITY OF E-CONTRACTS IN INDIA
The Indian contract act 1872 recognizes the traditional concept of contracts which includes essential elements which makes the contract enforceable in the eyes of the law, herein this act does not prohibit the validity of E-Contracts. The essential of valid contract are as same as in the e-contracts. There is no scope for negotiation on e-contracts. There are various cases in which Court has dealt with the provisions and legality of E-Contracts.
In LIC INDIA vs. CONSUMER EDUCATION AND RESEARCH CENTRE, the Supreme Court of India held that “In dotted line contracts there would be no occasion for a weaker party to bargain as to assume to have equal bargaining power. He has either to accept or leave the service or goods in terms of the dotted line contract. His option would be either to accept the unreasonable or unfair terms or forgo the service forever.”
In India till date there is no defined legislations or guidelines which protect the buyer and seller who are using e- contracts or any electronic medium. However, several laws and provisions are there which define E-Contracts, their medium, validity and, hence, provide remedy in case of breach. These several provisions are in:
- INDIAN CONTRACT ACT, 1872
- CONSUMER PROTECTION ACT, 1986
- INFORMATION TECHNOLOGY ACT, 2000
- INDIAN COPYRIGHT ACT, 1957
- INDIAN EVIDENCE ACT, 1872
A. E-BUSINESS AND VALIDITY IN LAW
This pandemic has taken us to the way of online which leads us to online business or E-Business. India’s E-Commerce market is expected to grow to $150 billion by 2021. This rapid growth of use of internet has brought India to the number of issues which has to be faced by the legal guardian of the country. So, the security issues related to E-Commerce id dealt by the various laws which are as follow:
INFORMATION TECHNOLOGY ACT, 2000: Authentication and identification that the E- Signature should be of the authority and party to the contract. If identity was found to be fraudulent or signature found to be fraudulent than, the IT Act prescribes a penalty of imprisonment of up to 3 years and fine up to Rs 1 lakh
In case of Wrongful disclosure of personal information, the IT Act prescribes a penalty of imprisonment of up to 3 years and a fine of up to Rs 5 lakh
CONSUMER PROTECTION ACT, 1986: This Act deals with the liabilities arises when there is deficiency in the service or any defects in the goods. This liability imposes various sanctions such as:
- Replacement of goods
- Return of price paid
- Pay compensation as may be awarded, and
- Discontinue the unfair trade practices
INTELLECTUAL AND PROPERTY RIGHT: This act deals with the copyright, trademark patents etc. Copyright to protect design, content graphics etc., trademark to protect domain name, product name, tagline etc. patents to protect the functionality of software, source code, programs etc.
Civil remedies are given if IP are violated or infringe like:
Damage to the extent of lost profit,
Order for accounts of profit,
Destruction of infringe material etc.
CHALLENAGES FACED IN THE WAY:
Many learners and peoples do not have good access to the internet nor sound mobile network and connection which holds them back in using the online platforms.
The digital divide falls along existing line of socio-economic inequality, those who are poor and lives in less affluent areas pay more for less reliable service.
Case related to fraud can be rewarded in higher number than before, because in E-Business there are no face to face relations, where all we have to do is click a button for our needs or services, hence, there is no guarantee of the quality of products.
One of the main challenges we face in online mode is safety and security measures. Due to increase in use of internet it is difficult to provide security and safety at every step, which can lead to the path of numerous fraud cases. Like Zoom App, which was violating the privacy of person.
Virtual Courts are facing many challenges like Video conferencing in those cases where there are number of witness or representative is not possible and challenges to those stakeholders of judiciary who have limited access and understanding of technology.
Looking at India’s technology advancement it is difficult to provide 24*7 service of internet in various fields.
Due to digital platforms the possibility of cyber bullying and harassment on various platforms is likely to be increase.
In this era where there is need to improve the technology advancement, COVID-19 is helping the country in indirect way through which we are now able to test our compatibility and ability in this online or modern era. We are now somewhere in between the era which will be wholly depend upon the electronic means or modes, it is necessary for us to adopt the online medium and cope up with this. All is need to be done on the part of the government is that they should aware the people or consumer about the online system by the ways of webinars or sessions, aware the consumers about the benefits of the online system. The other thing should be done the part of the consumer that they must not take bad advantages of this system or misappropriate the use of the system. Together we stand together we unite, this should be the motto of the country and because of the harmonious balance of government, producer, provider and consumer we will be able to achieve success in the path of online or electronic platforms.