The article briefly talks about the interconnected disciplines of Science & Technology and Law; their inter dependence on each other, the crucial role they play in a developing society and the legalities related to the subject. Special reference has been given to the boon that technology proved to be amidst Coronavirus in the legal sphere.
“Convergence of technology and the judicial system is the need-of-the-hour. We need to go digital and adopt online analysis of legal cases. Dissemination of legal knowledge to the common man will also a go a long way in improving the law-and-order situation in the country.”- PM Narendra Modi
Both, law and technology are dynamic and evolving in nature. The law changes with the changing needs of the society and so does the technology advances with the progress in development. Both the fields are interconnected and seem inseparable in present scenario. The outbreak of coronavirus, lead to greater dependence on technology and forced majority sections of the society, including the law to switch to tech-savvy mechanisms. Large parts of society are sceptical about the intervention of technology in legal field, with fears like non-availability of resources, lack of knowledge, incapability of many to efficiently use technology and many more. However, it is pertinent to note here that technology has proved to be a great help in trying and tough times like coronavirus (pandemic). Keeping in mind the pendency before the judiciary and the need to deliver speedy justice, technology seemed as the only resort.
The concept of interlinkage between law and technology is not of recent origin but has its roots back to late 19th century. It is also important to understand that both Law and Technology work hand in hand and at the same time try to balance each other. Law is used as an effective tool to curb the ill-effects of advancing technologies and in order to ensure that the technology developments benefit all, equally. On the other hand, technology helps in ensuring effective seeping of laws and also helps in creating awareness of existing laws.
Social media, a gift of technology to humankind, is a powerful tool in spreading awareness about various laws and to make people realise their rights and duties as a responsible member of civilised society. However, the usage of all the technologies should be done keeping in mind the reasonable restrictions that prevail in the society and not to undermine the primary purpose of developing such innovations.
Role of laws in preventing the probable misuse of technology:
It is vital to understand that technology is like a two-sided sword, that needs to be used with extreme caution. Its misuse may result in fatal consequences that cannot be reversed. The legislature realised the dire need to regulate its use by the public in order to ensure optimum utilisation of resources and to protect the interests of all others. Several legislations were formulated globally to manage the impact of technology on the society. With the ever-developing technology and scientific temper, the interdependence of the two distinctive disciplines, Law and Science, could be observed. Laws relating to technology were formulated with the intent to procure its advantages to all and to manage issues like risks, threats and ethical biases that surround it.
Realising that technology is subject to development, making it ever-evolving in nature, acts and rules have been developing to meet the recent developments and the issues pertaining to the same.
Science and technology is a wide discipline and has several branches like:
Cyber and computing technologies that is advancement of pre-existing communications technology;
Technologies and innovations that aim to make life simpler and convenient like artificial intelligence and robotics, which is an extension and modification of mechanisation;
Food technology or Bio-technology;
Nanotechnology and many more.
Since the different branches of technology cater to different needs and segments of society distinctively, it is necessary that there are separate and elaborate laws that govern their functioning in the society.
This is the main reason for having different laws that regulate the varied kinds of technology. There are IT Laws that majorly deal with Information technology and cyber laws. Since the AI, biotechnology, nanotechnology and robotics are of recent origin, laws relating to these are still being worked upon. We have distinct laws that monitor food technology and medical technology.
Laws play a major role in providing the right direction to the developed technologies that would otherwise go unattended. In developing nations like India, effective partnership of laws and technology plays a key role in its global, economic and positional growth.
The Information Technology Act, 2000
The IT Act, 2000; occupies a cardinal position in India; which was formulated based on UNICITRAL Model Law, in order to regulate ‘electronic communications, storing of electronic information or data, electronic commerce and trade and computer related crimes.’
It entails provisions relating to offenses that may be punishable under the act and also talks about the remedies available to the victim, in case of infringement. Its application can be witnessed in several sectors like – filing and retaining records (data), preventing cyber-crime and making social media a safe place, promoting international trade and commerce and expansion of economic prospects. It aims to facilitate the organs of the government in developing a system of independence and digitalisation. The IT Act, 2000; helps government in e-filing of records for longer and better retention of data, easier computation; and facilitates filing of e-FIR by portals and also works to enhance the transactions that take place across borders.
Hence, it regulates the advanced Communication technology and aims to curb any menace resulting from its misuse.
Advantages of Information Technology- in times of Covid-19
The Information Technology proved to be the second greatest asset and contribution of technology to mankind, after the medical technology. It not just helped bridge the gap between people, in times like the outbreak of deadly coronavirus, who could not interact physically subject to the protocols; but also emerged as a great source of entertainment and means to stay connected. It helped a lot of people by acting as a powerful means and tool to spread information that could save lives, globally. Technology, these days has its root in the remotest possible areas and hence made it easier to cope with the unforeseeable challenges that were posed to businesses and the society as a result of the pandemic and crisis.
It made easier the delivery of justice to people, even in times like these, by mode of virtual courts and hearings. Recently, it was observed by the judges of the Apex Court that covid-19 made it possible for the Judiciary to switch and opt for enhanced mechanisms of dispute settlement like the hearing through video conferencing, that were earlier only practiced under special circumstances. It was a rare opportunity that knocked the doors of Indian Judiciary, in order to ensure that the judiciary continues to perform its functions and uphold the spirit of society.
Various online platforms, like e-Courts and Zoom sessions were organised by the judiciary to meet the current demands amidst the crisis- situation. New and enhanced softwares were developed to reach out to the majority, by keeping it simple and in the vernacular language, to ensure efficacy and better outcomes.
It has also been observed that handling disputes through intervention of Information Technology, made the process easier, convenient, inclusive, environment friendly and most importantly available at the comfort of your home.
The intervention of technology made it convenient for the authorities to reach to the masses with 24/7 helplines amidst the pandemic and effectively ensure vaccination of all, with proper records.
Disadvantages of Information Technology
The Information Technology blessed human race with ‘Social Media’, a powerful weapon that can easily influence masses around. This platform was seen to be manipulated and misused by some people in order to create a sense of fear and panic. Circulation of unverified and misleading information being a major concern, during the crisis. The ground reality was mocked by many on these platforms and people were also found violating the reasonable restrictions set forth by the fundamental Rights.
Another, demerit of IT is the huge amount of risks associated with it- risk of loss of Privacy, risk of loss of monetary value, risk of impersonation, etc. Uncountable instances of white-collar crimes or associated cyber crimes have been witnessed. Hacking, Phishing, Money-laundering, cloning of cards are some common offences that occur in this arena.
The third demerit of IT is its complex nature that makes it difficult for the less educated/ uneducated to connect with the appropriate authorities in cases of fraud or commission of offence.
Another disadvantage being the technical nature of the Information Technology that often makes it tough for the lesser privileged members of the society to enjoy the fruits of this development. The tangled network that IT operates on, makes it difficult to track-down the highly skilled offenders and very often results in the uneducated users being befooled in the hands of these perpetrators.
Having said that, it is pertinent to note that technology is a boon if used judicially and within the prescribed limits. It can have fatal and adverse consequences if exploited or used illegally.
Role of technology in promoting efficacy of implementation of Laws:
Technology has slowly and gradually acquired great importance in the field of law. Be it e-Filing of documents or effectively strengthening the farmers by providing them direct monetary help through e-transactions, or facilitating e- commerce, technology has aced in every possible branch of law. From forensic science to help catch criminals by techniques like narco-analysis or fingerprinting, to cyber – technology in order to enhance social networking, technology has significantly helped to enhance the law in all directions. It has helped cut down unnecessary paper filing costs and other expenses that accrued to the same, and has therefore played a vital role in preserving the environment as well.
Making law accessible to all is also a result of fruitful intervention of technology in the realm of Law. Technology has made it easier to enforce laws by use of Artificial Intelligence to record instances of offence in CCTVs, or by speed-monitoring cameras that help ensure implementation of traffic norms. In present times, technology has ensured speedy trials and delivery of justice to the victims. It has also helped in digitalisation of the developing nations to match steps with the developed nations.
However, the technology that was introduced in the field of Law to reduce the pendency and burden of the pillars of government, is sometimes misused by the hackers, or people with malafide intentions to trouble the innocent people and trap them in vicious circles of dearth and debt. Leaking of confidential information by computer resources, hacking the entire system and interfering with its functioning, bluffing people in name of advanced technology are some common ways in which technology is being misused by some in the society in order to gain wrongful advantage over less tech- savvy population.
On the basis of above reading, it can be concluded that, technology and law are inseparable. Technology and law have paved their way into each other’s arena, so deep and wide that now it seems impossible to imagine life in absence of either of the two. The mutual relationship between technology and law is very vital for ensuring smooth and fast- paced growth of a nation.
It is important to note that just like each coin has two faces, the interrelation of law and technology also has its own merits and demerits. However, the advantages of their interlinkage very well outweigh their disadvantages. It is therefore important to note that the relation between technology and law are indispensable part of the contemporary world. It can also be said that, both the disciplines facilitate each other in their respective fields while carefully striking balance between the two. Their interdependence is governed by the well-established principle of Checks and Balances, where one promotes and prevents the other to develop within safe limits. These limits are reasonable restrictions applied to the interlinkage in such a manner so as to support the advancement of both the disciplines, while simultaneously ensuring their judicial and safe use, in the best interest of all and ensuring ethical usage of the two disciplines.
The Information and Technology Act, 2000
Law, Policy and the Internet, Lilian Edwards, Hart Publications, 2018
The Future of Law and e-Technologies, Addi Rull, Springer Publications, 2016
https:/blog.ipleaders.in/relationship-law-science-technology-modern-society/,last visited on 03.06.2021
https:/economictimes.indiatimes.com/news/india/use-of-technology-amid-pandemic-gives-rare-opportunity-to-transform-legal-system-sc-judge/articcleshow/82880923.cms, last modified on May 23, 2021.
Legal Intern- May 2021 Batch.
(Fourth Year law student, BBA LLB, Fairfield Institute of Management and Technology, GGSIPU.)