Investigative Journalism and Cyberspace

From yesterday onwards Times Now is claiming to have exploded e-mail scandals of correspondances between Sushma Swarajji,Lalit Modi and Keith Waz, the British MP wherein Sushmaji has supposedly asked for favor for her kin from Lalit Modi.
As a numero uno channel with so claimed highest proprietory to Active journalism,I feel this channel has exceeded its limit in the name of investigative journalism. If the channel claims to have in its custody the emails exchanged between the trio, the natural question comes to my mind is How third party got access with the personal e-mails of these persons. Has Times Now engaged hackers to hack e-mail accounts or either of three willingly gave access to TIME NOW for accessing the said mails?
Secondly probability seems to be improbable and hence certainity about first possibility is obvious.

Information Technology Act under section 43 (a) says that if any person without permisssion of owner or any other person who is incharge of such computer,computer network or computer system accesses or secures access to such system then he shall be liable to pay damages. And if this act in section 43a is done with dishonest or fraudulent intention then he shall be punished with imprisonment or fine or with both.

Now keeping the political issue apart from this act of Times Now,the question remains How they accessed the e-mails without prior permisssion. Mr.Waz has made it clear that this act of Times Now in punishable under British Laws and Indian laws have similar provisions.

Does investigative journalism gives immunity for acts forbidden under law? If not then why legal action under section 66a should not be initiated?

Under RTI act also you can not seek someons personal information and in many matters even court has upheld privacy of the individual supreme. Even our Fundamental Rights does not compell someone to testify against himself so all persons have inherrent immunity against depositions about themselves.

Considering these logic ,the source of emails must be explained by Times Now and if they fail to disclose there souce then legal action should be initiated immedialtely against them.

Also when contacted with senior editor Mr.Praveen Bardapurkar,he opinioned that Nobody has given free run to invade anyone’s privacy and this act of Times Now has exceeded all the limits of investigative journalism.

IT Act also has provision to punish who assists in such criminal act and hence even Times Now have not hired the Hackers they should be punished under this provison of act.

The bigger issue is Can anybody’s privacy in Cyberspace is so fragile? And if yes then its an eye-opner for MISSION DIGITAL INDIA. Today its emails between politicians and tomorrow it could be emails between officials and day after it could be conversations between head of state.
Its high time to rethink about security in Cyberspace and laws and its implementation must be strengthened to such extent that cyber criminals will think twice before committing such misadventures.
There has to be a nation-wide debate amongst Law Enforcement Agencies, Politicians, Academicians, Legal Professionals and Telecom Service Providers on this issue, which is concerned with safety and security of the Nation as well as future of this Young India

 

Advocate Mahendra Limaye
Cyber Legal Consultant

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