Saturday, September 17, 2005

ApiAp's feedback on the proposed draft revision on IT act 2000 in India

To, Hon’ble Minister for Communications and Information Technology, The Hon’ble members, The expert committee on the amendments to IT ACT 2000. At the outset, on behalf of the Association of Public Internet Access Provider, I compliment the esteemed members of the expert committee for their efforts in re drafting the IT act 2000 and inviting us the citizen of India to participate in this historic reframing of an important law. About us: Our organization offers the platform for numerous independent micro entrepreneurs offering shared Internet access in Public places, popularly termed as ‘Cyber Café’. With the ownership of computers and requisite software to be more than twice the annual income of a common man in India, Our members makes effort to bring in the various Information Communication tools to a price point acceptable to the common consumer thus our vast dispersed and marginal players contribute immensely in bridging the digital divide in our country. On behalf of these numerous micro entrepreneurs, I wish to draw the attention of the honorable members of the expert committee on a few issues related to our member’s trade. While a major effort of the expert committee has gone is redefining certain terminologies used in the act, prominently figured is change of word Digital to Electronic. I pray on the same pattern the revised act does not offer as a harbinger to the third draft where in the new terminologies are clarified. The case in point in the use & definition of terms like ‘Intermediate’, & ‘Cyber café’ Term 'Intermediary' has been defined in Chapter I, Section 2(w). "Intermediary" with respect to any particular electronic record means any person who on behalf of another person receives, stores or transmits that record or provides any service with respect to that electronic record; We feel the above definition does not clearly distinguishes nor represents the role of numerous participants in the Information Technology arena and may lead to ambiguity & may take the judiciary’s precious time in clearing the term this may impact the several regulations proposed on this definition. The role of various participants in the Information & Technology arena needs to be better understood and needs to distinguish their role as an Intermediary and/or Facilitator I quote Cambridge Advanced Learner’s dictionary: Intermediary noun [C] Someone who carries messages between people who are unwilling or unable to meet: & Facilitator noun [C] As enabling other people to work in the way that suits them best. Certain participant's role is as much as a facilitator like network service providers, Internet service providers, search engines including on-line auction sites, online-market places , shared Information, communication tools ( ICT) service provider. It is important that we appreciate, the opportunity that Internet offers to explore as a ‘facilitator’, which effectively makes information accessible which until now would not have been feasible for small players. Like online market place company E-bay has brought small merchandiser an easy access to the world market. The roles & responsibility do differ in delivery and execution of the contract . I request the honorable members to dwell further on the terminologies. Further Under the term ' Intermediary' you propose to: include, but not limited to, telecom service providers, network service providers, Internet service providers, web-hosting service providers, search engines including on-line auction sites, online-market places, and Cyber Cafes. Sirs, the nomenclature ' Cyber Cafe' is an undefined term but only a popular phrase which have a very broad interpretation. In the Western Europe, Cyber Cafe term, has been variously defined as "An Internet cafe--or cyber café--is a place where one can "rent" or use a computer with Internet access. Usually per minute or per hour fee is charged. In general, there is usually a drink service in an Internet cafe" (Retrieved : Retrieved on 17th Sept 2005, 6.27 pm ) Thus entertainment and fine dining is the quintessential reason of existence of a Cyber Café. In the Indian context, such a term is a misnomer. The high cost and lack of sufficient orientation of the use of ICT tools is raison d’être of shared computing access. The business model known popularly as cyber cafe is truly transient and may perhaps extinguish ones the costs are reached within the means and the orientation sufficiently acquired . Thus the term 'Cyber Cafe " should suitably changed to " shared ICT tools provider " and which should reflect the following attributes : "open to the general public to access the Internet, other network facilities and/or a variety of information communication technology tools on a temporary contract basis (pay per use) without the necessity for the users to own hardware or software themselves." ( Retrieved on 17th Sept, 2005 ) The current meaning attributed to " Cyber cafe " as in 2C " Cyber Café means a place where access to electronic form is provided to the public " may lead to multiple interpretation. " if a vendor who provided the service of copying video clippings on to the mobiles. may also technically be termed a Cyber Cafes. ( quote referred by: Adv Na.Vijayashankar on, news forum ) All the participants as defined as Facilitator as explained above may be brought under Section 79 for Exemption from liability of "intermediary" ( facilitator ) in certain cases. Sir , Further we wish to draw your attention : Whilst Computers & Internet revolution mushroomed by, the developers kept in mind an individual consumer’s need. The shared access concept that at best fits countries like ours with scarce resources were never kept in mind . The dominant players in the IT industry are now waking up to the need of a shared Public access version to a personal computer desktop. Cyber Cafes too play a role of facilitation: They offer the tools to the people who do not have access to the ICT tool for self-determination. A cyber café at just Rs 20/- an hour makes power of computer accessible for those who cannot afford to invest Rs 30000/-. At the click of the mouse button, the cyber café’s customer votes to visit the site of his choice. It is very much beyond the control of the café manager, as in the same way as the control of the Postmaster to scan every mail or the Telephone Company to check every conversation transmitted through the network. or a newspaper to track the veracity of every advertisement paid for publishing in advance. Today in India there are nearly as many cyber cafes as the number of post offices. The note worthy point is their sheer number & volume of transaction and the ticket value of the transaction. While accountability and trace ability is critical for the development of the Digital Society but unfortunately a feasible & viable technical solution is not yet visible. The Regulation should certainly look into this transition environment of a cyber society. Further it is important for the success of the ICT environment to be ubiquitous to realize its full potential but at the same time. The essential ICT tools as Desktop Computers , software, connectivity have not been notified as Essential goods, nor are their pricing can be insured as reasonable and within reach of every one. Fro example in India , A cost of essential software as Microsoft Windows And Office cost over 14 months per capita Income in India. The proposed revision under section 87, seeks to empower the Central Government to make rules, We seek the honourable members be reminded to see that in this transient environment where tools are yet being developed and tested and as well as the cost yet to be within a common Indian’s reach, do not thrust as many regulations as to make their business unviable. It is only due to the enterprise of the several young people of India that ICT tools have reached to them. every care and opportunity should be taken to nurture this young enterprise and let every citizen can reap the benefit of Information communication tools for development and progress. Respectfully Ashish Saboo President The Association of Public Internet Access Provider A self Help group for entrepreneurs operating Shared Internet Access in Public places URL: Blog: , Email :