Karnataka govt lays 'digital trap'; brings online crimes under Goonda Act

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Bangalore, Aug 5: Do you live in Karnataka? Here is how it has become easier for the police and the government to arrest you under the IT Act.

A Bangalore Mirror report says you could be in jail under the Goonda Act even if not guilty under the Indian Copyright Act. Apparently, the Karnataka government has brought most crimes under the Information Technology Act, 2000, and Indian Copyright Act, 1957, under the ambit of the Goonda Act.

As per Goonda Act, the police could take into preventive custody people with a history of crimes like bootlegging, drug offences and immoral trafficking. Recently, the government added acid attackers and sexual molesters to the law. Lastly, the state government added another group to this law - 'Digital offenders' or people who violate copyright law. But the Bangalore Mirror report says that the new move is more dangerous than it seems to be.

The law was passed by Karnataka legislature on July 28. It is called 'The Karnataka Prevention of Dangerous Activities of Bootleggers, Drug-offenders, Gamblers, Goondas, Immoral Traffic Offenders, Slum-grabbers and Video or Audio Pirates, (Amendment) Bill, 2014'. The amendment adds, "Acid attackers, Depradator of Environment, Digital Offenders, Money Launderers and Sexual Predators", to the law.

The law applies not only to audio and video pirates, but to Facebook, twitter, Whatsapp users too. Here is how the report explains it : "If govt thinks you are planning to send a 'lascivious' photo to a WhatsApp group, or forwarding a copyrighted song, you can be arrested".

Now does that sound alarming?

If you are writing an opinion on a political issue or forwarding a copywrited song/video/e-book or anything big multinational corporates claim they have a copyright on, you can even be taken into preventive custody under the controversial Goonda Act and can be jailed for a year without being presented before a magistrate.

Who is a 'Digital Offender'?

Here is how law defines a Digital Offender.

"Any person who knowingly or deliberately violates, for commercial purposes, any copyright law in relation to any book, music, film, software, artistic or scientific work and also includes any person who illegally enters through the identity of another user and illegally uses any computer or digital network for pecuniary gain for himself or any other person or commits any of the offences specified under sections 67, 68, 69, 70, 71, 72, 73, 74 and 75 of the Information Technology Act, 2000".

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