India: Adequate Protection To Business Confidential Information: Time Stamping Could Be The Magic Recipe

Last Updated: 25 March 2015
Article by Priya Anuragini

As offices go digital and employees switch to paperless offices, one constant fear haunting the employers is: what if their employees are aiding and abetting snooping and transferring treasured data to their competitors. And their fears are not totally unfounded as not only digital medium facilitates information stealing by a mere mouse click but also there have been umpteen no. of cases where employees have been found sharing the confidential details including customer details, status of pending offers and technical details of their parent company with companies that may be the direct competitors of their business.1 While it is true that employers can initiate court action against erring employees, after all most of the employees have a Non-Disclosure Agreement (NDA) with their employers, the challenge of proving this subterfuge before the Court is sometimes too difficult to surpass, more so, in case of electronic documents.

An Overview of Current Provisions

In cases where Employers allege misappropriation of confidential information, it is important for them to establish that the employees of the company/organization/firm had access to/or possession of electronic documents at a certain point in time and the electronic transaction that is in question, took place. Further, it also needs to be ascertained that confidential data that is the subject matter of a misappropriation complaint has not been tampered with since the complaint took place or the employees would easily get away. Required thus is simple, secure, independent and portable proof of electronic record integrity.

If we look at the current legislative framework, for proving existence of electronic documents at a certain point in time, Section 16 of the Indian Evidence Act (Act) would come in handy. The Section lays down that that if there is a question whether a particular act was done, the existence of any course of business, according to which it naturally would have been done, is a relevant fact. For establishing, validity and integrity of the confidential data in question section 65B coupled with section 85 B and 88 A is important. Section 65B elucidates the conditions precedent for the admissibility of the electronic evidence and stipulates that any information contained in an electronic records and printed on paper shall be deemed to be a document for the purposes of the Evidence Act and admissible in any proceeding without further proof of the original (soft copy) if the technical conditions, pertaining to the information contained in the electronic record and the computer on which the information is produced, are met as specified in the section. Section 85B and 88 A are presumptive sections and enjoin the Court to draw a positive conclusion once electronic evidence is tendered before it. While Section 85 B mandates the courts to presume a secure electronic record to be secure since the time when it was first secure, section 88 A specifically deals with emails and lays down that Courts shall presume that the e-mail sent by the originator through the electronic mail server to the addresses is the same as that received. However no presumption as to who sent the mail will be made. This section presumes the authenticity of the electronic message but not the authenticity of the sender of the message. As is clearly apparent none of the sections clearly talk about the evidentiary value of time and date on these documents and whether even they would be presumed to be valid. Further, the authenticity of electronic documents can be proved in accordance with the provisions of the Information Technology Act, 2000 (hereinafter also referred to as 'IT Act'). Section 3 of the Evidence Act read with the Information Technology (Certifying Authorities) Rules, 2000 provides the manner in which electronic records may be authenticated by means of digital or electronic signature. However, the procedure provided for authentication of electronic records under the IT Act does not authenticate time or date when the transaction took place.

Time Stamping needed to eliminate gaps in the current Legislative Framework

In as much as the time on computers and severs may be easily tampered, establishing any case on breach/misappropriation of confidential information would require tendering strong legal evidence that the electronic document in question existed at the relevant point in time and has not been altered since then. And this is where the getting the documents time stamped by a Certifying Authority can prove to be crucial. An analogy here can be drawn from the use of digital signatures. Once a Digital Signature Certificate has been issued by a licensed Certifying Authority, it is a conclusive proof of the identity of the person in whose favour it has been issued and once it is affixed on any electronic document, it is also sufficient for authenticating electronic records. In the same manner, licensed Certifying Authorities may also time stamp the digital document with authoritative and reliable time stamp which will certify time ownership and integrity of content related to digital works. In fact time stamp may also be useful to certify priority in case of intellectual property and boost their protection.

India currently has around eight Certifying Authorities who already issue Digital Signature Certificates. It's time to mandate them to provide time stamping services as well. In fact both the Information Technology (Certifying Authority) Regulations, 2001 and Version 2.6 of the Interoperability Guidelines for Digital Signature Certificates issued under the IT Act lay down that licensed Certifying Authorities may issue certificates for the purposes of time-stamping albeit they do not make it mandatory. Also, the Department of Electronics and Telecommunications has issued Version 1.0 of Time Stamping Services Guidelines for Certifying Authorities in October 2012 which lays down standards and practices to be followed by Certifying Authorities in case they provide time stamping services. But since IT Act remains completely silent on the issue, both the Certifying Authorities and the business Organizations have given time stamping a cold shoulder and time has come to change the same.

1 Homage India Private Ltd. v. IMA AG Asia Pacific PTE Ltd, M.F.A No. 1682/2010 C/W M.F.A No. 1683/2010

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.

To print this article, all you need is to be registered on

Click to Login as an existing user or Register so you can print this article.

In association with
Related Topics
Related Articles
Up-coming Events Search
Font Size:
Mondaq on Twitter
Register for Access and our Free Biweekly Alert for
This service is completely free. Access 250,000 archived articles from 100+ countries and get a personalised email twice a week covering developments (and yes, our lawyers like to think you’ve read our Disclaimer).
Email Address
Company Name
Confirm Password
Mondaq Topics -- Select your Interests
 Law Performance
 Law Practice
 Media & IT
 Real Estate
 Wealth Mgt
Asia Pacific
European Union
Latin America
Middle East
United States
Worldwide Updates
Registration (you must scroll down to set your data preferences)

Mondaq Ltd requires you to register and provide information that personally identifies you, including your content preferences, for three primary purposes (full details of Mondaq’s use of your personal data can be found in our Privacy and Cookies Notice):

  • To allow you to personalize the Mondaq websites you are visiting to show content ("Content") relevant to your interests.
  • To enable features such as password reminder, news alerts, email a colleague, and linking from Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) to your website.
  • To produce demographic feedback for our content providers ("Contributors") who contribute Content for free for your use.

Mondaq hopes that our registered users will support us in maintaining our free to view business model by consenting to our use of your personal data as described below.

Mondaq has a "free to view" business model. Our services are paid for by Contributors in exchange for Mondaq providing them with access to information about who accesses their content. Once personal data is transferred to our Contributors they become a data controller of this personal data. They use it to measure the response that their articles are receiving, as a form of market research. They may also use it to provide Mondaq users with information about their products and services.

Details of each Contributor to which your personal data will be transferred is clearly stated within the Content that you access. For full details of how this Contributor will use your personal data, you should review the Contributor’s own Privacy Notice.

Please indicate your preference below:

Yes, I am happy to support Mondaq in maintaining its free to view business model by agreeing to allow Mondaq to share my personal data with Contributors whose Content I access
No, I do not want Mondaq to share my personal data with Contributors

Also please let us know whether you are happy to receive communications promoting products and services offered by Mondaq:

Yes, I am happy to received promotional communications from Mondaq
No, please do not send me promotional communications from Mondaq
Terms & Conditions (the Website) is owned and managed by Mondaq Ltd (Mondaq). Mondaq grants you a non-exclusive, revocable licence to access the Website and associated services, such as the Mondaq News Alerts (Services), subject to and in consideration of your compliance with the following terms and conditions of use (Terms). Your use of the Website and/or Services constitutes your agreement to the Terms. Mondaq may terminate your use of the Website and Services if you are in breach of these Terms or if Mondaq decides to terminate the licence granted hereunder for any reason whatsoever.

Use of

To Use you must be: eighteen (18) years old or over; legally capable of entering into binding contracts; and not in any way prohibited by the applicable law to enter into these Terms in the jurisdiction which you are currently located.

You may use the Website as an unregistered user, however, you are required to register as a user if you wish to read the full text of the Content or to receive the Services.

You may not modify, publish, transmit, transfer or sell, reproduce, create derivative works from, distribute, perform, link, display, or in any way exploit any of the Content, in whole or in part, except as expressly permitted in these Terms or with the prior written consent of Mondaq. You may not use electronic or other means to extract details or information from the Content. Nor shall you extract information about users or Contributors in order to offer them any services or products.

In your use of the Website and/or Services you shall: comply with all applicable laws, regulations, directives and legislations which apply to your Use of the Website and/or Services in whatever country you are physically located including without limitation any and all consumer law, export control laws and regulations; provide to us true, correct and accurate information and promptly inform us in the event that any information that you have provided to us changes or becomes inaccurate; notify Mondaq immediately of any circumstances where you have reason to believe that any Intellectual Property Rights or any other rights of any third party may have been infringed; co-operate with reasonable security or other checks or requests for information made by Mondaq from time to time; and at all times be fully liable for the breach of any of these Terms by a third party using your login details to access the Website and/or Services

however, you shall not: do anything likely to impair, interfere with or damage or cause harm or distress to any persons, or the network; do anything that will infringe any Intellectual Property Rights or other rights of Mondaq or any third party; or use the Website, Services and/or Content otherwise than in accordance with these Terms; use any trade marks or service marks of Mondaq or the Contributors, or do anything which may be seen to take unfair advantage of the reputation and goodwill of Mondaq or the Contributors, or the Website, Services and/or Content.

Mondaq reserves the right, in its sole discretion, to take any action that it deems necessary and appropriate in the event it considers that there is a breach or threatened breach of the Terms.

Mondaq’s Rights and Obligations

Unless otherwise expressly set out to the contrary, nothing in these Terms shall serve to transfer from Mondaq to you, any Intellectual Property Rights owned by and/or licensed to Mondaq and all rights, title and interest in and to such Intellectual Property Rights will remain exclusively with Mondaq and/or its licensors.

Mondaq shall use its reasonable endeavours to make the Website and Services available to you at all times, but we cannot guarantee an uninterrupted and fault free service.

Mondaq reserves the right to make changes to the services and/or the Website or part thereof, from time to time, and we may add, remove, modify and/or vary any elements of features and functionalities of the Website or the services.

Mondaq also reserves the right from time to time to monitor your Use of the Website and/or services.


The Content is general information only. It is not intended to constitute legal advice or seek to be the complete and comprehensive statement of the law, nor is it intended to address your specific requirements or provide advice on which reliance should be placed. Mondaq and/or its Contributors and other suppliers make no representations about the suitability of the information contained in the Content for any purpose. All Content provided "as is" without warranty of any kind. Mondaq and/or its Contributors and other suppliers hereby exclude and disclaim all representations, warranties or guarantees with regard to the Content, including all implied warranties and conditions of merchantability, fitness for a particular purpose, title and non-infringement. To the maximum extent permitted by law, Mondaq expressly excludes all representations, warranties, obligations, and liabilities arising out of or in connection with all Content. In no event shall Mondaq and/or its respective suppliers be liable for any special, indirect or consequential damages or any damages whatsoever resulting from loss of use, data or profits, whether in an action of contract, negligence or other tortious action, arising out of or in connection with the use of the Content or performance of Mondaq’s Services.


Mondaq may alter or amend these Terms by amending them on the Website. By continuing to Use the Services and/or the Website after such amendment, you will be deemed to have accepted any amendment to these Terms.

These Terms shall be governed by and construed in accordance with the laws of England and Wales and you irrevocably submit to the exclusive jurisdiction of the courts of England and Wales to settle any dispute which may arise out of or in connection with these Terms. If you live outside the United Kingdom, English law shall apply only to the extent that English law shall not deprive you of any legal protection accorded in accordance with the law of the place where you are habitually resident ("Local Law"). In the event English law deprives you of any legal protection which is accorded to you under Local Law, then these terms shall be governed by Local Law and any dispute or claim arising out of or in connection with these Terms shall be subject to the non-exclusive jurisdiction of the courts where you are habitually resident.

You may print and keep a copy of these Terms, which form the entire agreement between you and Mondaq and supersede any other communications or advertising in respect of the Service and/or the Website.

No delay in exercising or non-exercise by you and/or Mondaq of any of its rights under or in connection with these Terms shall operate as a waiver or release of each of your or Mondaq’s right. Rather, any such waiver or release must be specifically granted in writing signed by the party granting it.

If any part of these Terms is held unenforceable, that part shall be enforced to the maximum extent permissible so as to give effect to the intent of the parties, and the Terms shall continue in full force and effect.

Mondaq shall not incur any liability to you on account of any loss or damage resulting from any delay or failure to perform all or any part of these Terms if such delay or failure is caused, in whole or in part, by events, occurrences, or causes beyond the control of Mondaq. Such events, occurrences or causes will include, without limitation, acts of God, strikes, lockouts, server and network failure, riots, acts of war, earthquakes, fire and explosions.

By clicking Register you state you have read and agree to our Terms and Conditions