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Abstract

India's Information Technology Act (/TA) recognizes the legal validity of £-documents, £-signatures and £-contracts, and also promotes £-government. £-documents are not allowed in wills, trusts, sales of real property, negotiable instruments and powers-of-attorney. An £-document may be used to satisfy a statutory requirement of writing; authentication; retention; publication; and governmental filing, issuance or payment. A digital signature complies with a statutory requirement for a handwritten signature to be affixed on paper. The /TA includes £-contract rules relating to: attribution, acknowledgement of receipt, and time and place of transmission and reception of an electronic message. Rules are provided for the regulation of Certification Authorities (CA) and third parties whose duty is to vouch for the authenticity and integrity of an electronic message that has been signed with a digital signature. Those rules are implemented by the Controller. India has adopted a compulsory system of CA licensing; no party may offer certification services without a license. A CA is mandated to: publicly display its license; issue certificates to successful applicants; and manage outstanding certificates by keeping the information in them current, and suspending or revoking them if they contain inaccuracies. A CA 's license may be suspended or revoked for good cause shown. Subscribers are responsible for ensuring that all information given to the CA is accurate and that all information contained in the certificate is correct. Ordinarily, network service providers have limited liability. The /TA includes civil and criminal offenses and related penalties. The Controller appoints adjudicating officers to hear both civil and criminal cases relating to the /TA and to render decisions accordingly. Appeal may be taken to the Cyber Regulations Appellate Tribunal and eventually to the High Court. The federal government of India and the Controller are empowered to issue regulations necessary for implementation of the /TA. The objectives of this article are to: (1) introduce the reader to India's economy and E-commerce activity; (2) explain the role of electronic signatures; (3) explain the role of the evolution of electronic signature law; (4) analyze India's Information Technology Act (ITA); and ( 5) make recommendations for improvement of that statute.

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