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How websites misuse your e-mail ID

Source: The Economic Times
Date: December 22, 2003

Cybercrime When I was new to the internet about two years ago, I visited a porn website and without realising the consequences I entered my e-mail address on that site. Currently, I am a Net professional. I still receive a lot of junk e-mails from that porn site and because of this it has been difficult to preserve my important mails. Can I take legal action against this site? What does the law say?


Your question relates to a typical problem faced by Netizens. When someone’s introduced to the Internet for the first time, he is often overawed by the medium and ends up giving his personal email IDs on various sites. These IDs are often sold for monetary and other consideration to spammers and companies interested in marketing their products.
This is what’s happened in your case too. And it’s why you are receiving constant junk emails from that website. I appreciate your problem of not being able to preserve your important mails, but you can’t take any very effective action against the website under the Indian cyberlaw. It is not clear from your question whether the porn site you visited is in India or outside. If it is in India , you can ask for an injunction restraining the website owners from sending you junk email.

If the website is outside India , you do not have any remedy because India does not have a law against spam. However, there seems to be some light at the end of the tunnel. There is a new anti-spam law in the US , which is likely to be implemented early next year. I hope, meanwhile, India also wakes up to the urgent need of legally regulating spam.
I am of the opinion that appropriate amendments need to be carried out under the Indian cyberlaw to incorporate effective remedies in this regard. The problem of jurisdiction does pose major obstacles, but we do need to keep our legal mechanisms ready and proactive so that as and when felt expedient, a law with the appropriate legal provisions can be brought into force immediately

Recently I bid for a product on abc.com & won. But now I have some financial problems and so I want to withdraw my bid. Please tell me what conditions would apply to me in this case?

Bidding is generally done under the terms of bidding given on the website concerned. Normal principles of contractual law would be applicable, and so you would be well advised to refer to the website as its specific terms and conditions alone will apply to you too.
Usually, when a bid is accepted as being successful, you are required under the terms and conditions of the site to fulfill it. If you do not, the accepted terms and conditions come into play. However, everything depends upon the peculiar facts and circumstances of each case.

I am a student of LL.M (II) at the Maharaja Sayaji Rao University Baroda , Gujarat . I am working towards my dissertation on “Cybercrime with special reference to pornography and obscenity”. I would be obliged if you could explain the need for provisions against obscenity in the IT Act when such cases are already taken care of under the IPC.

Obscenity has engaged the attention of lawmakers from the beginning of civilization. Lawmakers and societies have always endeavoured to control the distribution of pornography so that it doesn’t have any harmful effect upon the citizens of the country.
Consequently, we have always found discussions among lawmakers on what pornographic information would need to be penalized and what information could be exempt. In India , the law of obscenity has been effective from the British times: The Indian Penal Code has a provision to punish obscenity. However, that primarily relates to obscenity in the actual world and does not cover obscenity in the electronic form. That is why lawmakers felt the need for coming up with a special provision for regulating and preventing the publication and transmission of pornography and obscenity in the electronic form.

The lawmakers therefore introduced a distinct provision — Section 67 of the Information Technology Act which makes publishing and transmission of obscene electronic information an offence punishable on first conviction with imprisonment for five years and fine of up to Rs 1 lakh or both.
It is important to note that in case of a conflict between Section 292 IPC and Section 67 of the Information Technology Act, the Indian Cyberlaw will take precedence as it is a special law. As per the principles of interpretation and jurisprudence, the provisions of a special law shall prevail upon the principles of general law in case of any conflict.

So far we have seen limited use of the provisions of online pornography being used for booking acts of online obscenity. That is so because of the rampant use of obscene electronic information. As per one estimate over 50 per cent of the total content on the internet is pornographic in nature. Even in the actual world, we see that section 292 IPC is not very often resorted to.
It’s a fact that the law has avoided defining or even referring to pornography and has instead resorted to the usage of terms such as “lascivious” or “appeals to the prurient interests” to describe obscenity. It’s therefore apparent that the discretion of registering a case under the Indian Cyberlaw has been given to the Law Enforcement Agencies. The provisions relating to publication and transmission of obscene electronic information have still not been tested in judicial waters. However, it will be interesting to see how the law develops in this regard in the near future.

Original article

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