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Important cyberlaw trends in 2012

Pavan Duggal  |  New Delhi 

The year 2012 has dawned. As the world passes through a distinctly unique time in history, and cyberspace are increasingly making huge advances in the forward direction. With the economic, political and social developments of 2011 as the background canvas, 2012promises to be an year that is likely to face numerous Cyberlaw challenges and trends. It is always hard to do crystal-gazing and that too accurately. However, based on the development of jurisprudence and emerging trends as on date, one can try to see some broad Cyberlaw trends that are likely to emerge in the year 2012.

The year 2012 is likely to further consolidate on the technological advancements made in 2011. This year is likely to add huge numbers of new Internet users to the Internet bandwagon. Not only will the numbers of Internet users increase tremendously, but even the number of people migrating to mobiles and smart phone platforms will rise significantly. With increased usage of the digital format and the digital environment, Cyberlaw is likely to see various emerging trends that will have to be appropriately addressed by law makers.

Cyber security legal issues

The first major Cyberlaw trend that 2012 is likely to bring forward is increased attacks on networks and the need for coming up with appropriate legislative frameworks for enhancing, preserving and promoting cyber security. As Cyber incidents and breaches of cyber security are likely to increase dramatically in the year 2012, lawmakers across the world will be faced with the challenge of how to come up with appropriate enabling legal regimes that notonly protect and preserve cyber security, but also further instill a culture of cyber security amongst the netizen users. Large number of existing cyber legislations across the world, do not yet address important issues pertaining to cyber security. This year is likely to bring in more renewed focus and emphasis on coming up with effective mandatory provisions which would help protect, preserve and promote cyber security in the context of use of computers, computer systems, computer networks, computer resources as also communication devices.

Mobile law challenges

The year 2011 saw lot of activities in the mobile ecosystem. As different players competed with each other in the year 2011 to come up with new models of communication devices, mobile phones and tablets, the year 2012 is further going to see an escalation of the saidtrend. As more and more people move on to the mobile ecosystem, the use of mobile devices and content generated therefrom are likely to bring forth significant new challenges for cyber legal jurisprudence across the world. A number of jurisdictions across the world donot have dedicated laws dealing with the use of communication devices and mobile platforms.As increasingly people use mobile devices for output and input activities, there will be increased emphasis on meeting up with the legal challenges emerging with the use of mobility devices, more so in the context of mobile crimes, mobile data protection and mobile privacy.

Spam galore

The year 2012 is further likely to see more growth of spam, not only in the context of email spam but also in the context of mobile spam. Already countries like India have reached the top spot for generating spam. As more and more users get added to the Internetand mobile bandwagon, spammers will find increasingly innovative methodologies and procedures to target at digital users. Law makers are likely to be under pressure to come with up effective legislative provisions to deal with the menace of spam.

Cloud computing – legal issues

As the world increasingly moves towards the adoption of cloud computing, various important legal challenges pertaining to cloud computing will continue to seek attention of Cyberlaw makers across the world. Cloud computing brings with it, various distinctive new challenges including that of data security, data privacy, jurisdiction and a variety of other legal issues. The year 2012 is likely to see more and more countries being consciousof various legal challenges raised by cloud computing. There is likely to be increased pressure on cyber legislators to come across with appropriate enabling legal frameworksthat could help industry and relevant stakeholders to not just benefit from cloud computing revolution but also to provide effective remedies in the event of misuse of cloud computing.

Social media legal issues

The year 2012 is further going to be dedicated to increasingly significant legal issues and challenges raised by social media. Already, social media is beginning to have its social and legal impact. As per one study, Facebook is responsible for one third of the divorcesthat have been filed in recent times. As social media websites continue to become the fertile ground for targeting by all relevant lawyers, law enforcement agencies and intelligence agencies, social media continues to become the preferred repository of all data.

As such, social media crimes are likely to increase dramatically. Inappropriate use of social media is further going to increase , thereby leading to various legal consequencesfor the users. The concept of privacy in the context of social media is going to be greatly undermined, despite efforts to the contrary made by some stakeholders. Cyberlaw makers across the world will have to face the unique challenge of how to effectively regulate the misuse of social media by vested interests and further how to provide effective remedy to the victims of various criminal activities on social media.

There is likely to be an increase in litigations across the world, which have connection, association and nexus with the output of social media in one form or the other. Already, social media defamation litigations have started. Further, various matrimonial actions havestarted across the world which use the output of social media. The year 2012 is further likely to see the enhancement of litigations across the world as far as use of output of social media, being data and information resident on social media networks, will be concerned.

The aforesaid are some of the important Cyberlaw trends that are likely to emerge in the year 2012. These are based on an analysis of the emerging jurisprudence in Cyberlaw up todate. Given the rapid pace of growth of technology, it is not possible to overrule any other new or major technological trend emerging which could have a direct impact upon the growth of Cyberlaw.

All in all, 2012 promises to be an year that is likely to witness various important and interesting challenging threats that will emerge in the area of cyber legal jurisprudence.This is an interesting space to follow this year.

The author is an Advocate in the Supreme Court and a leading Cyberlaw expert in Asia



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First Published: Wed, January 11 2012. 13:40 IST