Introduction to Law relating to e commerce and computer crimes in Sri Lanka
Introduction to law relating toElectronic Commerce and Computerbased crimes for Marketing Students in Sri Lanka By Maxwell Ranasinghe
• The invention of computer and Information technology related software and equipment has revolutionized the way we do things in many fields• Especially in the science, education, business and commerce it has made far reaching changes.• Without using a single sheet of paper, a lot of communications and transactions are done.
• Automation of businesses, financial institutions and the government records have become widespread.• Many transactions such as sale of goods, transfer of information, transfer of funds and even buying air tickets could be done through the use of computers.• The existing laws that governs transactions and information did not address such issues as they were made before the IT era.
• Therefore many countries including Sri Lanka had to formulate new laws to address issues that would rise as a result of the use of IT in business and society.• UNCITRAL* model laws have been taken as a guide lines in formulating IT related laws in many countries including Sri Lanka• (*United nations Commission on International Trade Law)
• There are more than a dozen new Acts relating to ICT and related matters but following could be considered as very important• Evidence ( Special Provisions) Act No 14 of 1995• Electronic Transactions Act No 19 of 2009• Computer Crimes Act No 24 of 2007• Payment Devices Frauds Act No 30 of 2006• Intellectual Property Act No 36 of 2003
Evidence (Special Provisions) Act No 14 of 1995• It was decided in Benwell Vs. Republic of Sri Lanka ( 1978-79) SLR Vol 2 p 194 that under law of Sri Lanka that computer evidence is not admissible under sec 34 of Evidence Ordinance.• Until Evidence (Special Provisions) Act No 14 of 1995 the status did not change. Under sec 3 of the Act computer evidence are acceptable.• Sec 6-9 of the Act provides the procedure to produce computer evidence.
• Act also defines computer “ any device the functions of which includes the storing and processing of information”• Sec 5 (1) further says that “ In any proceeding where direct oral evidence of a fact would be admissible any information contained in any statement produced by a computer shall be admissible as evidence…..
Computer Crimes Act No 24 of 2007• Our penal code is older than 125 years. By then the computers were not dreamt of and therefore covering something called computer based crimes was not an issue. As a result the provisions therein could not interpret elements of a computer based crimes as they were unique to the conventionally described crimes.• E.g. On cases of theft it has to be proved that there was a removal of movable tangible property. Therefore, student removing the examination paper before the exam and photocopying and keeping the exam paper on the same place later was not considered to have committed theft ( Oxford Vs. Moss 1968 – 68 Crm Appl Reports 183)
• Further in a case in Sri Lanka Nagaiah Vs. Jayasekera ( 28 NLR 467) the accused was charged with theft of electricity and was aquitted for the reason that it did not come under the interpretation of theft under Sec 366 of Penal code as electricity was not a tangible product. As a result Electricity Act has to be brought into deal with such matters.
• Even to prove criminal tresspass under penal code ( sec 427) one has to prove physical entry.• The computer term “ access” which is used to denote entry will not really come under “physical entry”• Therefore, new interpretations to words, new offences have to be covered by new law,( rather than amending the Penal Code) hence Computer Crime Act No 24 of 2007 is enacted.
• Part I of the Act deals with offences relating to cyber crimes – Unathorised access, Computer hacking, unauthorised modifications, using computers to commit crimes against national security, national economy, public order, offences as to obtaining information unlawfully, illegal interception of data, using illegal devices etc, unauthorised disclosure of information, conspiracy to commit computer related offences etc are described in the Act.
Electronic Transactions Act No 19 of 2006• Main intention of the Act is to facilitate domestic and international electronic commerce by eliminating legal barriers and establishing legal certainty.• To encourage use of reliable forms of electronic commerce• To facilitate electronic documents with government and to promote efficient delivery of government services• To promote public confidence in authenticity and reliability of data messages and electronic communications
• It also provides legal background and modalities to engage in electronic forms of contracting, including the recognition of an offer and acceptance in electronic form.• Under the Act an email is deemed have been dispatched when it enters an designated information system outside of ones control. It is deemed to have received by the other when it enters his designated system ( postal rule applies)
• However, one may stipulate a condition that the acceptance will happen only when he acknowledges the receipt of the email.• It also talks about Electronic Signatures in digital formats. Digital Encrypted signatures to verify the authenticity.
• However, Last wills, Contract of sale or conveyances of immovable property or any interest in such property, Power of Attorney are expressly excluded from Electronic transactions.• There are so many other provisions as to operation and facilitation it is not in our syllabus to deal them in detail
Intellectual Property Act No 36 of 2003• The law relating to copy rights, patent rights and trade marks are described in the above ACT.• The computer software, technologies etc are also covered under the above Act.(IPA)• Within the scope of literary, sceintific and artistic works computer programs are also covered under sec 6(1) of the IPA• ( we have dealt about this in another lesson)
Payment Devices Frauds Act No 30 of 2006• This Act is mainly deal with the legal background to create a safer environment to pay through credit cards/ debit cards and other devices of electronic payments• It has provisions to make certain activities iillegal and punishable under law• eg. Unlawful possesion of equipemnt that could fabricate or change or alter credit cards/debit cards or any other device• Implanting foreign objects or recording devices into swiping machines of credit cards to capture data and information etc.• Making multiple entries on transactions or bogus or fraudualnt entreis by merchants and many other offences are described in the act.• Further it also provide provisions to penalise credit Card holders who make transactions who tries to make a farud on the issuing banks and other financial institutions.
• This is only an introductory lecture to makemarketing students aware that Sri Lanka has changed their laws to suit the modern day transactions.• However, this is only an introduction and you are required to read an learn from the articles in the internet and books published on the subject• Read – Dr. Wickrema Weerasooriya – Commercial Law-• Mr. Kalinga Indatissa- Law relating to Computer Crimes.• Books and articles written by Mr. Sunil Abeyratne and Mr. Jayantha Fernando.• I must confess that I have obtained information from their books articles and Acts of Sri Lanka to prepare this short presentation for SLIM students and not for any legal practitioners or law