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Need of Regulation in CyberSpace

The internet, an effective means of social interaction that inevitably altered human life is the new normal. Its utility to humankind could not be overemphasized as much as its inherent peril could not be underestimated.[1]

Cyberspace refers to the virtual computer world, and more specifically, is an electronic medium used to form a global computer network to facilitate online communication. It is a large computer network made up of many worldwide computer networks that employ TCP/IP protocol to aid in communication and data exchange activities. Cyberspace's core feature is an interactive and virtual environment for a broad range of participants.[2]

Why Do We Need To Regulate Cyberspace?

Cyberspace spans worldwide, but it has no formal framework. It has no definite metes and bounds except the capacity of the hardware used for access. The lack of formal framework makes cyberspace nobody's domain. No single individual, entity, or government owns or controls cyberspace. In property law, cyberspace may be considered res nullius; it is incapable of private appropriation just like outer space.[3]

Regulation in cyberspace is an emerging challenge. According to professor Lawrence Lessig of Harvard Law School, the default in cyberspace is anonymity. Anonymity encourages and enhances the exercise of freedom. A child too shy to express himself in the physical space can feign to be somebody else in virtual space, and express himself freely.

The internet also provides speed and ease of transmission of both voice and data. The facility in communication greatly enhances global trade. Goods are traded over cyberspace in lieu of the traditional person-to-person mode. Huge amount of money is transacted through computers and even cellular phones. Paperless transaction has become common. Even court filings are shifted to electronic means. The volume generated by electronic business is enormous even as the temptation for white collar crimes is likewise immense.

Facility of publication and the potential of anonymity, however, can also be detrimental to the dignity or reputation of third parties. The internet is also a medium for character assassination, and purveyors of bogus news at no harm to the perpetrators.

Crimes of global repercussion are also committed with the use of the internet. Trafficking of persons, child pornography, kidnapping for ransom, and terrorism are perpetrated with the use of cyberspace. Freedom thus in cyberspace should not be exercised without the concomitant responsibility of its users.

Practical Problems In Extending The Traditional Laws To Cyberspace

The existing laws and regulation have their bases on physical world activities. "Consequence of digitization and automation is that many Internet activities are widely distributed, both among actors and jurisdictions thus making it difficult or impossible to apply existing laws to the Internet analogous of physical world activities." The major problems and challenges are as follows:

  1. Multiple Jurisdictions-Because of anonymity of the Internet user, absence of geographical boundaries in the cyberspace, and the cross border effect of Internet transactions, all legal systems face legal uncertainty.
  2. Legal Vacuum-The legal draftsman and the legislator have to, in some way, find a solution to the existing problems in cyberspace. But there are no appropriate model laws.
  3. Problem of Policing-The lack of technical knowledge, non-co-operation among different police organization etc., make the problem too difficult to be solved.
  4. Expensive Process-Training of law enforcement officers to solve the issue of cybercrime is very expensive.
  5. Obtaining Digital Evidence- Another instance where the policing of cybercrime becomes difficult is with regard to obtaining the digital evidence.[4]
  6. E-Contract - Various loopholes in e-contract are:
    1. Contracts by minors
    2. Misrepresentation through Online advertisements
    3. Mistake of law and mistake of fact
    4. Problem of enforcement
    5. Problem of being cost effective

The internet is a dynamic or ever-evolving work-in-process. What is in vogue today may be passé tomorrow. Such dynamism characterizes the architecture of cyberspace. Thus, it is indeed difficult for the government to regulate cyberspace based on its architecture. The best, and perhaps utmost, that the government can do is to regulate use of cyberspace. The emphasis of the regulation would be on the conduct of the user, and its consequent effect.



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