The Information Technology Act of 2000 created the legal infrastructure and recognition for e-Commerce in India which greatly propelled Bharat into the modern age. The Act put government laws online and is essentially the framework of India’s cyber laws. The Information Technology Act of 2000 provides information on digital signatures, e-Transactions, e-Governance, e-Banking, the penalty for obscene content, and the prohibition of publishing and/or transmitting corruptible material electronically. This law is still active as a core piece of legislature; it had been amended in 2008 and 2011 due to vague language. This law effects India gaming and other enacted Indian gambling laws.
How The Information Technology Act of 2000 Affects Gambling in India
This Act provided a lot of difficulties in terms of truly understanding what the law meant for gambling. Its overall vagueness did not assist in providing clearer laws toward gambling as many had hoped. Some argue that the language applies to internet wagering however the language is not explicit. Currently, the IT Act of 2000 applies to state-based online gaming, which some say is e-Gambling and applicable to the original law which prohibits the publication and transmission of content which can corrupt individuals. However, this legislation does not clearly provide any information on legally licensed offshore online gambling and due to its difficulty to interpret, therefore online gambling has been permitted in that way only. Although many have challenged this, the original Act i.e. The IT Act of 2000, did not explicitly forbid legal offshore online gambling for Indian players which are licensed by an authoritative and respectable international jurisdiction. However, we say original because there have been multiple amendments to the Act.
What Was the Original Intent of The Law
This Act was created to provide the Indian Parliament power to actively counter cybercrimes, cyber terrorism, cyber stalking, cyber forgery, IPR infringement, cyber fraud, hacking, and other malicious or obscene acts online. This Act specifically targeted hackers, sex traffickers, illegal gambling operators, terrorists, and ill-intended acts committed by a person(s) or group. This Act was put in place to protect India’s government, people, and property.
How The Information Technology Act of 2000 Is Outdated
Many oppose the Act as it allowed for the corrupt use of power in terms of illegal arrests against innocent people for objectional content, specifically words against political party leaders. Many are outraged at the abuse allowed by sections of the Act which state vague regulations for censorship i.e. section 66A, 69A, and 79. Those who have challenged the law argue who is to decide what content should be censored, as it is subjective to a person to person basis as well as cultural basis. The Act became controversial as laws began to regulate social media posts and criminalized the free speech of individuals. This created many cyber rights activist groups which spoke out against the Act’s outrageous sections until they were finally repealed.
The Act failed to effectively deal with the legal issues that arise from online gaming. The issue between central laws vs state laws led to spotty jurisdictions and legality of gaming activities within India. There was no aide to clarify the issue as the Indian Supreme Court refused to comment on legality of online poker, online rummy, online card games in India. The Act suggested blocking gaming sites but did not deal with or remedy the issues as simply blocking a website and moving on is not a good long-term solution. This is due to players being able to bypass geo-location tracing through proxies and VPNs, as well as, the issue with gaming operators creating new domains to continue operations.
The Act was amended in 2008 in order to provide clearer language than its original version. This amendment directly prohibited the sale, hire, distribution, exhibition, and circulation of any obscene object or content. This amendment also allowed for legislative action against cybercrimes. However, this new amendment was not perfect and left numerous grey areas. The abuse of power by police and local governments instilling the Act revealed the need for carefully worded documents and sections, future-planning, and clear explanations. It left many criminal legislations open to interpretation, especially those subjected to internet regulations and allowed for the frivolous classification of a criminal, which was heavily abused against innocent patrons. Comprehensive and clear legislature had never been more in need.
In 2011, another Amendment was made at the federal level, this tasked Indian internet service providers with blocking online betting websites and heavily discouraged the activity of gambling. This amendment would target suspicious sources ‘relating to or encouraging money laundering or gambling’ and it was hopeful that the amendment would curb payments to illegal websites. This gave the Indian government power to block access to online gambling coming from outside of India. Persons of other nationalities could also be indicted under this law if the crime involved computer or network located in India. This law is believed to outlaw all kinds of state-based online gaming in India. However, state authorities maintain the power to choose how they will proceed with website blocking.
It is often said that the need for these amendments came from the lack of true enforcement from the original Act which was “toothless” and not completely effective in issuing penalties or sanctions against criminals who misused cyber space. Even more so, the previous version allowed for online operators to walk over requirements as few internet gaming brands followed the original acts provisions. However, due to the Federal amendment of the Information Technology act in 2011, offshore online casinos can legally serve Indian players if they comply with all of India’s gaming and internet laws.
What Does the Act Consider Obscene Content?
Content is considered obscene, as deemed by the Supreme Court, when it is “offensive to modest or decency; lewd, filthy, repulsive” or “corruptible”. Further explanations of offensive behavior or actions are covered under the Indian Penal Code.
- Illegal weaponry sales
- Illegal India-based online gambling
- Online child pornography
- The trading of sexually expressive material over the internet
What Laws Must Online Gaming Providers Follow?
In order to be in agreeance with the Indian government, online operators must follow traditional gaming laws, India’s Internet Intermediary Liability Compliance Law, Cyber Law Due Diligence and applicable state laws.
Why Is the Act Still in Place?
While the Information Technology Act of 2000 is outdated it provides a key framework for new internet-based gaming legislation. Not only that, where the IT Act of 2000 fails to provide clear laws for gambling there remain important subjects within the original IT Act that are being utilized for India’s online industry. The IT Act of 2000 provides core information for how India’s e-Commerce, e-Governance, and online protection should be managed, overseen, and dealt with.
Does the Information Technology Act of 2000 Make Offshore Online Gambling Illegal?
The Act did not specifically provide information on the legality or illegality of offshore online gambling. The lack of specification and overall vagueness of the original legislature leads us to believe that the IT Act of 2000 did not outlaw offshore online gaming in any form so long as the international gaming sites retained an active license from an authoritative offshore jurisdiction and followed international gaming guidelines.