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
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
Check to state you have read and
agree to our Terms and Conditions

Terms & Conditions and Privacy Statement (the Website) is owned and managed by Mondaq Ltd and as a user you are granted a non-exclusive, revocable license to access the Website under its terms and conditions of use. Your use of the Website constitutes your agreement to the following terms and conditions of use. Mondaq Ltd may terminate your use of the Website if you are in breach of these terms and conditions or if Mondaq Ltd decides to terminate your license of use for whatever reason.

Use of

You may use the Website but are required to register as a user if you wish to read the full text of the content and articles available (the Content). 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 & conditions or with the prior written consent of Mondaq Ltd. You may not use electronic or other means to extract details or information about’s content, users or contributors in order to offer them any services or products which compete directly or indirectly with Mondaq Ltd’s services and products.


Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers make no representations about the suitability of the information contained in the documents and related graphics published on this server for any purpose. All such documents and related graphics are provided "as is" without warranty of any kind. Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers hereby disclaim all warranties and conditions with regard to this information, including all implied warranties and conditions of merchantability, fitness for a particular purpose, title and non-infringement. In no event shall Mondaq Ltd 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 or performance of information available from this server.

The documents and related graphics published on this server could include technical inaccuracies or typographical errors. Changes are periodically added to the information herein. Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers may make improvements and/or changes in the product(s) and/or the program(s) described herein at any time.


Mondaq Ltd requires you to register and provide information that personally identifies you, including what sort of information you are interested in, for three primary purposes:

  • To allow you to personalize the Mondaq websites you are visiting.
  • To enable features such as password reminder, newsletter alerts, email a colleague, and linking from Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) to your website.
  • To produce demographic feedback for our information providers who provide information free for your use.

Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) do not sell or provide your details to third parties other than information providers. The reason we provide our information providers with this information is so that they can measure the response their articles are receiving and provide you with information about their products and services.

If you do not want us to provide your name and email address you may opt out by clicking here .

If you do not wish to receive any future announcements of products and services offered by Mondaq by clicking here .

Information Collection and Use

We require site users to register with Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) to view the free information on the site. We also collect information from our users at several different points on the websites: this is so that we can customise the sites according to individual usage, provide 'session-aware' functionality, and ensure that content is acquired and developed appropriately. This gives us an overall picture of our user profiles, which in turn shows to our Editorial Contributors the type of person they are reaching by posting articles on Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) – meaning more free content for registered users.

We are only able to provide the material on the Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) site free to site visitors because we can pass on information about the pages that users are viewing and the personal information users provide to us (e.g. email addresses) to reputable contributing firms such as law firms who author those pages. We do not sell or rent information to anyone else other than the authors of those pages, who may change from time to time. Should you wish us not to disclose your details to any of these parties, please tick the box above or tick the box marked "Opt out of Registration Information Disclosure" on the Your Profile page. We and our author organisations may only contact you via email or other means if you allow us to do so. Users can opt out of contact when they register on the site, or send an email to with “no disclosure” in the subject heading

Mondaq News Alerts

In order to receive Mondaq News Alerts, users have to complete a separate registration form. This is a personalised service where users choose regions and topics of interest and we send it only to those users who have requested it. Users can stop receiving these Alerts by going to the Mondaq News Alerts page and deselecting all interest areas. In the same way users can amend their personal preferences to add or remove subject areas.


A cookie is a small text file written to a user’s hard drive that contains an identifying user number. The cookies do not contain any personal information about users. We use the cookie so users do not have to log in every time they use the service and the cookie will automatically expire if you do not visit the Mondaq website (or its affiliate sites) for 12 months. We also use the cookie to personalise a user's experience of the site (for example to show information specific to a user's region). As the Mondaq sites are fully personalised and cookies are essential to its core technology the site will function unpredictably with browsers that do not support cookies - or where cookies are disabled (in these circumstances we advise you to attempt to locate the information you require elsewhere on the web). However if you are concerned about the presence of a Mondaq cookie on your machine you can also choose to expire the cookie immediately (remove it) by selecting the 'Log Off' menu option as the last thing you do when you use the site.

Some of our business partners may use cookies on our site (for example, advertisers). However, we have no access to or control over these cookies and we are not aware of any at present that do so.

Log Files

We use IP addresses to analyse trends, administer the site, track movement, and gather broad demographic information for aggregate use. IP addresses are not linked to personally identifiable information.


This web site contains links to other sites. Please be aware that Mondaq (or its affiliate sites) are not responsible for the privacy practices of such other sites. We encourage our users to be aware when they leave our site and to read the privacy statements of these third party sites. This privacy statement applies solely to information collected by this Web site.

Surveys & Contests

From time-to-time our site requests information from users via surveys or contests. Participation in these surveys or contests is completely voluntary and the user therefore has a choice whether or not to disclose any information requested. Information requested may include contact information (such as name and delivery address), and demographic information (such as postcode, age level). Contact information will be used to notify the winners and award prizes. Survey information will be used for purposes of monitoring or improving the functionality of the site.


If a user elects to use our referral service for informing a friend about our site, we ask them for the friend’s name and email address. Mondaq stores this information and may contact the friend to invite them to register with Mondaq, but they will not be contacted more than once. The friend may contact Mondaq to request the removal of this information from our database.


This website takes every reasonable precaution to protect our users’ information. When users submit sensitive information via the website, your information is protected using firewalls and other security technology. If you have any questions about the security at our website, you can send an email to

Correcting/Updating Personal Information

If a user’s personally identifiable information changes (such as postcode), or if a user no longer desires our service, we will endeavour to provide a way to correct, update or remove that user’s personal data provided to us. This can usually be done at the “Your Profile” page or by sending an email to

Notification of Changes

If we decide to change our Terms & Conditions or Privacy Policy, we will post those changes on our site so our users are always aware of what information we collect, how we use it, and under what circumstances, if any, we disclose it. If at any point we decide to use personally identifiable information in a manner different from that stated at the time it was collected, we will notify users by way of an email. Users will have a choice as to whether or not we use their information in this different manner. We will use information in accordance with the privacy policy under which the information was collected.

How to contact Mondaq

You can contact us with comments or queries at

If for some reason you believe Mondaq Ltd. has not adhered to these principles, please notify us by e-mail at and we will use commercially reasonable efforts to determine and correct the problem promptly.