The Information Technology Act, 2000 (also known as the IT Act) is an act of the Indian Parliament (No 21 of 2000) which provides legal recognition for transactions carried out by means of electronic data interchange and other means of electronic communication, commonly referred to as "electronic commerce", which involve the use of alternatives to paper-based methods of communication and storage of documents. The Act came into effect on 17 October 2000 and has since been amended thrice: in 2008, 2009 and 2019.
The Information Technology Act, 2000 was enacted to provide legal recognition to electronic commerce and to facilitate electronic filing of documents with the government. It also seeks to address issues related to digital signatures and cyber crimes, such as hacking and identity theft. The Act defines a digital signature as a method of authenticating an electronic record using a digital key. It is intended to be equivalent to a handwritten signature or a seal on a document.
The Act applies to the whole of India, and also applies to any offense or contravention committed outside India by any person, if the act or conduct constituting the offense or contravention involves a computer, computer system or computer network located in India.
One of the key provisions of the Act is the recognition of digital signatures as a secure and reliable means of authentication for electronic documents. The Act also provides for the issuance of digital certificates, which are issued by a certifying authority to authenticate the identity of the holder of a digital signature.
The Act also deals with issues related to cyber crimes, such as hacking, identity theft and cyberstalking. It provides for the establishment of a cyber-appellate tribunal to hear appeals against orders of the adjudicating officer, and to exercise such powers and perform such functions as may be prescribed by the central government.
The Act was amended in 2008 to provide for penalties for publishing or transmitting obscene material in electronic form, and for publishing or transmitting material containing sexually explicit acts in electronic form. It also provided for the establishment of a cyber regulation advisory committee to advise the central government on matters relating to cyber security.
In 2009, the Act was further amended to provide for the establishment of a cyber security coordinator to coordinate the activities of various agencies involved in cyber security, and to advise the central government on matters relating to cyber security.
The Act was again amended in 2019 to provide for the establishment of a Computer Emergency Response Team (CERT-In) to respond to computer security incidents, and to provide for the establishment of a National Cyber Coordination Centre (NCCC) to coordinate the activities of various agencies involved in cyber security.
In conclusion, the Information Technology Act, 2000 is a comprehensive legislation that provides legal recognition to electronic commerce and addresses issues related to digital signatures and cyber crimes. It has been amended several times to keep pace with the rapidly evolving field of information technology and to provide for the establishment of various agencies to deal with issues related to cyber security.