E-Commerce under Cyber Law

Introduction

The Internet was born in 1953 but it was not so popular at that time. It was predominantly used for military communication purposes. It took 32 years when the internet had a real birth and it went public in 1989. Since then, the internet has governed every aspect of our life starting from education, socializing with friends, Gaming or shopping. The involvement of the internet in our life has increased exponentially in recent years.

Today buying and selling is widely done over the internet. E-commerce can be defined as any sort of transaction made over the internet. Buying over the internet includes direct buying or buying through affiliates or agents. Selling over the internet includes selling on your website, Selling on auction sites or selling on social networking sites. The growth of E- commerce in terms of business technology has created a ground for buying–selling of goods & services and it is driving key business processes inside the organization.

E-Commerce has its unique advantages where it gives tremendous amounts of possibilities to all kinds of business owners to grow their business exponentially. It provides reach to new markets over the web which will otherwise be impossible with their physical sales force. It brings commercial advantages to the businesses freeing them from huge investment on business space, traveling and investing time.

Cyber Law

Cyber Law, also called IT Law is the law regarding Information-technology including computers and internet. It is related to legal informatics and supervises the digital circulation of information, software, information security and e-commerce. IT law does not consist of a separate area of law rather it encloses aspects of contract, intellectual property, privacy and data protection laws. Intellectual property is a key element of IT law. The area of software licence is controversial and still evolving in Europe and elsewhere.

Cyber Crime and its impacts on E-Commerce

On one side where E-commerce is becoming an integral part and imparting convenience into lives, it is suffering from cybercrime. E-Commerce involves transaction of Money and Information. Both of these things are of great importance for the businesses. It is said that theft of information is more damaging then the theft of money. Cybercrime is rapidly growing under a covered business operated by criminals, who trade valuable stolen financial information from millions of innocent internet users every year, in the online black market. Cyber criminals do cyber-attacks on the computer systems through malware or malicious software, this takes control of the computer and gets access to the sensitive information  stored in it, without users knowing about it. In more simple words, cyber-crime is the use of computer resources to involve in unofficial or illegal acts. For example, telemarketing and Internet fraud, identity theft and credit card account thefts are considered to be cybercrimes when the unlawful activities are committed through the use of a computer and the internet. It brings serious threats to the integrity and existence of the businesses and thus makes the need for strong security methods and laws a top most priority.

Types of Cyber Crimes:

There are numerous types of cybercrimes. Some popular type of crimes are as below:-

Hacking

This is the most popular type of crime, which is related to unauthorised access to the computer system. The computer system is broken into so that the sensitive information can be accessed. This involves use of a variety of criminal software by hackers to gain access to a person’s computer without realizing it. This is different from ethical hacking.

Data theft:

This simply means stealing data, for normal or illegal usage. This happens when a person violets copyrights and steals music, movies, games and software. This type of crime is costing the copyright industry a huge money. The legal system is working on making stronger laws that prevent people from unlawful downloading.

Identity theft:

This is different from data theft. This produces a greater threat to the people using computers for transaction and banking services. This is used to steal money or buy things through accessing credit/ debit card, bank account or any other sensitive information, by criminals in an individual’s name. This results in major financial losses or even vanishing the credit history.

Cyber Stalking:

This involves use of a computer system to harass the victim. It has been defined as the use of information and communications technology, particularly the Internet, by an individual or group of individuals, to harass another individual, group of individuals, or organization. The behaviour includes false accusations, monitoring, the transmission of threats, identity theft, damage to data or equipment, the solicitation of minors for sexual purposes, and gathering information for harassment purposes.

Cyber Law in India

Cyber law is a term used to describe the legal issues related to the unlawful activities on cyberspace, i.e. the internet. In nutshell cyber law is an attempt to counter the challenges presented by human activity in cyberspace with a legal system of laws applicable to the physical world. In India, cyber laws are contained in the Information Technology Act, 2000 (IT Act) which came into force on October 17, 2000. The main purpose of the Act is to provide legal recognition to electronic commerce and to facilitate filing of electronic records with the Government.

IT Act 2000 has triggered amendments to existing acts to include IT offences related provisions. Below is the list of other main Acts which are amended by IT Act.

  1. The Indian Penal Code, 1860:- IT Act 2000 has amended the section dealing with records and documents in the IPC by inserting word ‘Electronic’ there by treating the electronic records and documents on a par with physical records and documents.
  2. The Indian Evidence Act 1872:- Prior to passing the IT Act, all evidence in a court was in the physical form only. With the IT Act giving recognition to all electronic records and documents. In the definitions part of the Act itself, the all documents including electronic records were substituted. Words like ‘digital signature’, ‘electronic form’, ‘secure electronic record’ ‘information’ as used in the IT Act, were all inserted to make them part of the evidentiary mechanism in legislation.

Types of E-Commerce

  1. Business to Business: Refers to all electronic transactions of goods and sales that are conducted between two companies, generally between the producers and wholesalers. The famous website acts as a catalyst between such wholesalers and producers, maybe India-mart.
  2. Business to Consumer: Various predominant e-commerce persisting in India wherein the customer gets a big market to purchase goods and services. Here, the E-commerce website serves as a platform for the sale of the goods directly to the end-consumer of the products. For instance Flipkart, Amazon, Myntra etc.
  3. Consumer to Consumer: Generally this model uses the online platform of money and various social media for its existence. The widespread known phenomenon of “OLX Pe Bech de” can be the best example to understand E-Commerce at the consumer to consumer-level basis. Example: eBay is one global example of this kind of e-commerce.
  4. Consumer to Business: When the Customer provides goods or services in exchange for money. For Ex. A customer review or the advertisement of a company by an influencer amongst his followers etc. 
  5. Business to Administration: This e-commerce category refers to the services and products offered by the companies to the Public Administration. For Instance: the small company providing IT support to the local administrative body.
  6. Consumer to Administration:  This heading includes all the transactions whereby there is a payment made electronically towards the public administration such as taxes, health appointments.

Advantages and Disadvantages of E-Commerce

Advantages:

  1. It’s a Business platform unaffected by the barrier of time and distance: The space of functioning E-commerce is the internet which may be accessed from any point of the globe with minimal setup required. The barriers conventionally faced by any business regarding the limitations of time and distance, is not there for the e-commerce houses.
  2. Lowers the Cost of sale: The availability of the big number of options at the very click allows to compare  the cost of various commodities and services and allows to select the best product at the best price.
  3. Less delivery time and less labour cost etc: The Fundamentals of the pricing of any products or services is the amount of money or sweat invested into it, the e-commerce by annulling the need of physical contact reduces the efforts which might have been otherwise required.

 Disadvantages:

  1. Fewer people using E-commerce: Indian trade depended heavily on the local traders and businessmen who were unorganised to run the show at the grassroots levels. Average household still prefers the physical market over e-market, there has been a great increase in the number of internet users but it has yet not attained the preference similar to the level of Local markets.
  2. Special and costly hardware and software are required: Although the presence in the digital world requires lesser investments than physically purchasing a place, the spending on the software then increases and so does the spending on the hardware.
  3. Not suitable for perishable commodities: The situation where the money has to be spent on e-commerce items ends up increasing the investment made by the seller hence reducing his profits. Hence e-commerce is not suitable for Perishable commodities. But the entities such as that of Big Basket have tapped into this market sector of the consumers already.

Conclusion

E-commerce though different in its digital presence from a brick and mortar business entity faces its own set of advantages and disadvantages. The legislation of the Information Technology Act, 2000 was made so as to make a cyber regulatory framework in accordance with the model laws passed in UNCITRAL. The advantages and disadvantages of e-commerce are the facets of the system which has to be understood while dealing with the e-commerce system. Ethics, as discussed towards the end of the article, plays a crucial role in establishing the entity’s image in the market.  

Reference:

  1. The Information Technology Act, 2000.
  2. E-Commerce Advantages and Disadvantages.
  3. www.lawresearchjournal.com
  4. https://www.geeksforgeeks.org/cyber-law-it-law-in-india/

 

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *