Are you someone who is interested in the internet space?
Does social media entice you?
Do you know you can make a career out of it?
In an interview with The Telegraph, Marc Andreesen once said, “The end state is fairly obvious – every light, every doorknob will be connected to the internet. Just like with the web itself, there will be thousands of use cases – energy efficiency, food safety, major problems that aren’t as obvious as smartwatches and wearables.”
His analysis cannot be called absolutely hypothetical. We are living in an era where even our gas stoves can be made to function on an internet application, pets can be fed and communicated with on the web, smart fridges can communicate with each other, and shopping services have never been this comforting. Right from getting cabs every day, to the communicating and networking, everything is being replaced by our mobile phones and laptops screen.
In the middle of this monumental societal shift, where are we as lawyers? We have slowly and gradually seen one system take over another. From traditional law schools we moved to National Law Universities, from written entrances we moved to online CLAT, from boring classroom lectures we moved to online courses offering practical insights, and now we are moving to space where dispute resolution can be amicably done online.
However, with such increase in technological marvels, we are also moving towards a continuous evolution of laws and policies which regulate the e-space. It is ironical to see that in the present era, where the government is trying to introduce more and more laws taking care of e-spaces – like content aggregation, data privacy, cryptocurrency etc., law school’s focus on courses focussing on cyberspace is extremely limited.
The biggest issue is that we are heading towards space where a field which could possibly have the most number of opportunities could produce the least number of talent if the current scenario continues. I mean, let’s try to take a headcount of the issues that our current judicial system hears on a day to day basis, and try to see what ‘future crimes’ might look like in the coming times:
1) Criminal Offenses
It is in the open that various crimes like thefts, defamation, privacy invasion are already present in abundance on e-space. However, a time where internet is in a position to incite hate crimes, political movements, abatement of suicides and other such crimes, is not far away.
Think about it yourself, sexual harassment – primarily outrage the modesty of women. Don’t you think in an era where most of the sexual gratification comes from the internet and with the introduction of sex toys and sex robots, wouldn’t a future definition of sexual harassment include abuse through electronic media too? Will a law which just imposes a ban on creation and publication of unpermitted, sexually graphic data suffice or will we need a broader definition?
Where individuals have, and are also extremely conscious, of their magnified social media image, will the current limited laws of defamation suffice? Won’t a social rapport abuse also attract similar penalties as physical abuse? Or is it too far-fetched?
We are living in an era where every movement and every moment of ours is being tracked. We get notifications in the morning stating the traffic on the route to our workspaces, our conversations, although encrypted, are still sent to third parties. In such a scenario, how safe are our lives? How easy is a cold-blooded murder, if a maniac gets a hold of such data? I leave it for you to judge.
2) Civil Crimes
It is not incorrect to say that we are living in a global economy. With the rise in the number of global contracts, cross-border transactions, endless license agreements, and now a rise in the usage of cryptocurrency, civil crimes are on a constant rise too, and this time truly international. We are living in an era, where we have moved from thumb impressions to digital signatures.
Can you imagine the magnitude of loss that one can bear if someone destructive gets a hold of it? There are automated websites which manage funds without even asking for the permission of the owner. For example, website goalwise creates auto fund channels, which after authorization once, appropriates funds automatically.
Although, I am not questioning the goodwill however we are witnessing a situation when the Supreme Court’s website is being hacked, can you imagine the consequences if a website like this gets hacked?
These are current situations, imagine the magnitude of it in future.
Opportunities now or in future!
Warren Buffett once said, “Only buy something that you would be perfectly happy to hold if the market shuts down for the next 10 years.” I would be lying if I said that you have immense opportunities right now. However, it is equally true that the opportunities have just started flowing in. I am not speaking in terms of global opportunities, let’s have a look at what are the leading headlines around us today:
- SC website being hacked
- Data Privacy/Protection
- Cambridge Analytica and Facebook
- Aadhaar which is again a data privacy case
- Artificial Intelligence
- Political wars on social media (Right Vs. Left wings)
- The revelation of the identity of a rape victim on media platforms
- Kejriwal apologizing for online defamation
- Internet shutdowns and WhatsApp being used for inciting riots
These are 11 major headlines, in the past month. It sure is a no-brainer that all of these issues are related to internet, technology or social media. This is at a point in time where we do not have effective cyberspace laws, data protection laws, e-contract laws or comprehensive IT laws. I want you to take a second and imagine, the possibilities that you can have in the future. Presently, Technology and IT practice is one of the biggest fields that you can delve into. Possibilities are innumerable, but are you ready to face the biggest problem?
So where lies the problem?
The biggest issue that we have today is that we are not well equipped in dealing with such situations. We are at a point where no university in India offers a comprehensive syllabus/module or a subject in all these three laws.
There are very few lawyers who have specific knowledge in these domains. Most of the cases are being fought on constitutional principles, however, that scenario is bound to change in the time to come. However, with new laws in place, will we be well equipped in dealing with them?
Possible solution, if any?
If you are someone who is interested in cyberspace laws, the solution lies within you. To what extent can you go? For example, when I was a law student and I wanted to go ahead and make a career in media laws, I wrote a research paper, published a few articles, attended a moot and interned with HT Media and Naik Naik and Company.
You have similar options.
Expertise comes from knowledge and practice. For knowledge, you can take up this comprehensive course which has an in-depth library for every possible topic which these three subjects can possibly have. It is the first course in India, that can teach you about cryptocurrency, which is an achievement in itself. The best part about it is, it is not restricted to knowledge alone. It also offers equal practical insights. For more insights, write and publish articles, take every moot possible, and intern at the right places.
Future is evolving, high time you do too.
All the luck!