nformation created, received, and maintained as evidence and information by an organization or person, in pursuance of legal obligations or in the transaction of business
What information is
Information as defined under 2 (v) of IT Act 2000 as
Information includes (Data, Message, Text )
- Voice Code
- Computer Programmes
- Data basis or microfilms or
- Computer generated micro fiche;
This definition covers all the aspects of Information.
It is all encompassing general definition. It does not distinguish tangible or intangible form. Moreover it is also silent on the storage medium of information.
“Electronic Record” means data, record or data generated, image or sound stored, received or sent in an electronic form or micro film or computer-generated micro fiche. An electronic record is information recorded by a computer that is produced or received in the initiation, conduct or completion of an agency or individual activity.
Examples of electronic records include:
- E-mail messages,
- word- processed documents,
- electronic spreadsheets,
- digital images and databases.
Many electronic records are maintained as part of an electronic recordkeeping system, such as geographic information systems (GIS), digital image storage systems, computer aided design (CAD) systems, etc.
The Advantages of Electronic Document Management System
The goal of a paperless office continues to get closer, due to the rising popularity of digital document management systems. Document management systems use scanners to make digital copies of every document. These documents are coded to attach them to specific files or accounts and optical character reading, OCR, systems provide insight into the contents of each page. From the time it enters the organization, the digital version of the document is stored
and filed for future use.
- Easy Access
- Searchable Text
- Cost Savings
Authentication of Electronic Record
The Amendment Act, 2008, in order to maintain continuity with the regime of the digital signature has introduced the concept of ‘electronic signature. Interestingly, a digital signature is a sub-set of electronic signatures.
With the Information Technology (Amendment) Act, 2008, the lawmakers have introduced the concept of technology-neutrality meaning that the law would remain neutral vis-à-vis adoption of technology.
For example, under the Information Technology Act, 2000 it is mandatory for any subscriber to subscribe to digital signature based on an appropriate technology standard. If suppose, the said subscriber obtains a digital signature using any other technology not recognised under the Act, then such digital signature will not be considered as lawful. However, with the introduction of technology-neutrality a subscriber would have a choice to adopt/use any electronic signature.
Need for Preserving e-records
- Threat of Digital Obsolescence
- Huge amount of electronic data is being produced on account of Central and State level initiatives of e-governance across various domains
- Obsolescence of e-records is much faster on account of obsolescence of file format, storage media, database, software and vendor lock-in.
- The obsolescence of e-records and the evidentiary proofs can create problems in administrative, judiciary and legislative functions in addition to loss of valuable information, intellectual property and heritage.
- It is necessary to ensure that the e records which require to be retained for long duration are produced by incorporating the guidelines to ensure its long term preservability
Legal Requirement of Preserving e-Records
E-production of preservable e-records are defined in order to comply IT Act which specifies the requirements of electronic records (Section 7) where any law provides that documents , records , or information shall be retained for any specific period and it should have the followings:
- the information contained to be accessible for a subsequent reference
- the electronic record is retained in a format which can be represented in future
- he details which will facilitate the identification of the origin, destination, date and time of dispatch or receipt of such electronic record available in the electronic record
Use of electronic records and digital signatures in Government and its agencies (Section 6)
- If any law provides for –
- the filing of a form, application, or any document with any Government-owned or controlled office, agency, body, or authority
- the grant or issue of any license, sanction, permit or approval in a particular manner
- also, the receipt or payment of money in a certain way Then, notwithstanding anything contained in any other law in force such as filing, grant, issue, payment, or receipt is satisfied even if the person does it in an electronic form. The person needs to ensure that he follows the Government-approved format.
- With respect to the sub-section (1), may prescribe:
- the format and manner of filing, creating or issuing such electronic records
- also, the manner and method of payment of any fees or charges for filing, creating or issuing any such records
Retention of electronic records (Section 7)
(1) Let’s say that the law requires the retention of certain records, documents or information for a specific period. In such cases, the requirement is also satisfied if the retention is in an electronic form, provided:
- the information contained therein is accessible and also usable for a subsequent reference.
- the format of the electronic record is the same as the one originally created, received or sent. Even if the format is changed, then it must accurately represent the original information.
- the electronic record contains details to facilitate the identification of the origin, destination, and also the date and time of the dispatch or receipt of the record.
This is provided that the clause does not apply to any information which is automatically generated primarily for the purpose of enabling an electronic record for dispatch or receipt. Nothing in this section applies to any law which expressly provides for the retention of records, documents or information electronically.
Publication of rules, regulations, etc, in Electronic Gazette (Section 8)
Let’s say that law requires the publishing of official regulation, rule, by-law, notification or any other matter in the Official Gazette. In such cases, the requirement is also satisfied if such rule, regulation, order, bye-law, notification or any other matter is published in the Official Gazette or Electronic Gazette.
However, the date of publication of the rule, regulation, by-law, notification or any other matter is the date of the Gazette first published in any form – Official or Electronic.
Section 6, 7 and 8 do not confer a right to insist document should be accepted in Electronic form (Section 9)
It is important to note that, nothing contained in Sections 6, 7, and 8 confer a right upon any person to insist either the acceptance, issuance, creation or also retention of any document or a monetary transaction in the electronic form from:
- Ministry or Department of the Central/State Government
- Also, any authority or body established under any law by the State/Central Government
Power to make rules by Central Government in respect of digital signature (Section 10)
The IT Act, 2000 empowers the Central Government to prescribe:
- Type of digital signature
- Also, the manner and format of affixing the digital signature
- Procedures which facilitate the identification of the person affixing the digital signature
- Control processes and procedures to ensure the integrity, security, and confidentiality of electronic payments or records
- Further, any other matter which is legally important for digital signatures