The Section 87 of the IT Act, various rules and reulations are being formulated by the Central Government. Under Section 87(2)(b) & 87(2)(c), the following rules are to be formulated.
87(2)(b): the electronic for in which filing, issue, grant or payment shall be effected under sub-section(1) of section (6).
87(2)(c): the manner and format in which electronic record shall be filed or issued and the method of payment under sub-section (2) of section (6).
While framing the above rules, a view point emerged that the use of the open source technology for electronic filing of the records could also be explored and it may not be restricted to proprietary software.The details of the different opinion are enclosed herewith for your reference.
Different opinion on the procedure to be followed for electronic filing of records under Section 87(2)(b) and 87(2)(c):
An electronic record may be filed with any office, authority, body or agency owned control by Central Government provided the said electronic record is a secure electronic record, is in portable document format and has been created using approved open source software. While for the use of secure electronic record and portable document format could be an acceptable norm, there is an apprehension on the use of open source software.
There would be more issues related to security in the open source softwares as all the developers who are hosting source document on the web do not generally take the responsibility. The infrastructure also as such is not available for approving the particular type of software from the various varieties of software available in the market. Open source software may not be acceptable to public at large and it could become a legal issue.
The relevant open source software for creation of PDF files could be easily created in short span of time by the government bodies. Trojanized software could be a major threat to national security and the use of approved open source software is the best precaution agaist trojans. Using the proprietary software for government filing system could be dangerous as the non-availability of source code could make it impossible to evaluate the software for hidden threats. Since the use of open source software is not proposed to be made compulsory for transaction between private parties and hence there could be no apprehension about legal issues on the use of open source software.
An opinion is sought from all the members of the public knowledgeable on the above subject whether the open source software should be used for electronic filing, issue, grant or payments taking into consideration the opinion I and opinion II above.
The replies may be sent before 30th November 2003.