In the cyber age of the twenty-first century, everything has shifted to virtual platforms. Information technology has drastically changed the lives of people. Excess computing has even resulted in people involving in various cyber crimes in India.
The blend of “Cyber” and “Crime” refers to the crimes committed through the computers and internet. Where indulgence in cyberspace has provided people with wonderful opportunities, overindulgence has resulted in the misuse of such a technology. To protect individuals from the various crimes committed through the internet, the Government of India set up a Cyber Crime Cell.
What is Cyber Law when it comes to cyber crimes
Today not only individuals but government and corporate houses also heavily depend upon IT to run their operations. Thus, increased dependence on technology requires security measures to run smoothly and legitimately. However, in the age of the darknet, it sometimes becomes difficult to protect the data and other relevant information provided online.
Consequently, the digital age keeps the law enforcers on their toes to perpetually lookout for cyber laws.
The alarming nature of information technology and computing makes it necessary for the government to educate people about cyber law and security practices to prevent potential cyber fraud.
Such security practices include preserving sensitive data, records and transactions and executing security technologies like firewalls, anti-virus software, intrusion detection tools and authentication services to shield the sensitive data available on the computer systems.
Thereby, it becomes necessary for individuals using the internet to be aware of cyber laws to prevent the threat of cybercrimes.
Need for Cyber Law in India
Cyberspace is the computer-generated realm of the world wide web. The laws governing it get referred to as Cyber Laws, and all visitors of this space are subject to these legislations as such legislations have global jurisdiction.
Likewise, Cyber laws in India deal with cyber crimes in India and legal complications stemming from the usage of related information technology. In a nutshell, cyber law governs computers and the internet.
The accentuated use of electronic commerce has prompted the need for more active and effective regulatory frameworks to enhance further the legal infrastructure that is utterly important for the success of existing laws.
As it covers practically all transactions and activities related to the internet, World Wide Web and cyberspace, cyber law is fundamental. In cyberspace, every activity and reaction has inevitable judicial and cyber legal consequences.
Neither the Information Technology Act of 2000, the National Cyber Security Policy of 2013, nor any other Indian statute defines Cyber Crime in India. However, Cyber Crime might get described as a blend of crime and computers. Thereby, any act or crime involving the use of a computer is a cyber-crime.
Even a minor offence like theft or pickpocketing can be classified as cybercrime if it involves violating such data.
In today’s modern era of technology, society is getting digitally polished, and so are the crimes. The fortuitous inception of the internet as a stage for research and knowledge exchange got increasingly transactional as time progressed with e-business, e-commerce, e-governance, and e-procurement, among other things.
To regularise and legalise such a platform dealing with digital transactions and crimes, enacting competitive Cyber laws became necessary.
As the number of internet users escalated, so does the demand for cyber laws and their implementation. As a result, in today’s primarily digitalised society, cyber law tends to safeguard everyone.
Types of Cyber Crime In India
The list of cybercrimes in India is inexhaustive. Any crime involving computers, cyberspace and the internet would result in cybercrime. However, for better understanding, such crimes are categorised into three major types. Such categories of cybercrime are:
Cyber Crimes against persons
Cyberstalking is the use of the web or other technologies to follow or stalk another person online. This online harassment is a sort of cyberbullying, and in-person stalking could occur through e-mails, text messages, social media posts, and other forms. It could be systematic, purposeful, and persistent.
Dissemination of Obscene Material
These type of cyber crimes in India encompasses indecent exposure or pornography content, essentially paedophilic material, and administering a website that contains this forbidden content. Such indecent materials might impair the adolescent’s mentality and tend to deprave or taint their mind.
An act of imputing an individual to cast down the person’s virtue by hacking their mail account and sending emails using indecent language to unknown individuals mail account.
Hacking denotes illegitimate access to computer systems and hacking operations that could destroy data and computer programmes. Hackers commonly target telecommunications and mobile networks.
Tampering with personal and confidential data of an individual by breaking into their computer system without their sanction and knowledge.
An email misrepresenting its origin is known as spoofed e-mail. Such an email does not give away its origin.
Spoofing is the suppression of unsolicited and unauthorised messages via spam. The transgressor obtains an individual’s mobile phone number and sends an SMS over the internet, and the recipient receives the SMS from the victim’s mobile phone number. It is a severe cybercrime committed against any individual.
It involves the wrongdoer’s illicit use of fake ATMs to withdraw the victim’s money through their card fraudulently.
Cheating & Fraud
Intentionally stealing and cheating the passwords or essential data over the internet leads to fraud and cheating and is one of the cyber crimes in India.
Physical exploitation of a juvenile via computer networks, the internet and cyberspace by creating, distributing and accessing the materials related to exploitation of such juvenile
Assault by Threat
An assault results in terrorising an individual with concern over their life or the lives of their family over a computer network, such as E-mail, videos, or phones
Cyber Crimes against Property
With expanding global commerce, companies and individuals would increasingly incorporate technology to generate, transfer, and retain information in electronic form rather than conventional paper papers. It attracts criminals to violate such a significant property resulting in the following crimes-
Intellectual Property Crimes
An intangible property created through human intellect refers to as intellectual property. Such a creation of intellect needed to be protected, and hence, to safeguard, they are bestowed various rights.
Thus, the violation of these rights results in crimes against intellectual property. Software piracy, infringement of copyright, trademark, patents, designs and service mark violation, theft of computer source code are common types of IPR crimes.
It refers to illegal registering and using unique IP addresses that would be confusingly similar to trademarks, service marks, corporate names or personal names of other users. Therefore, cybersquatting registrants purchase and utilise domain names in bad faith to profit from the goodwill of the legitimate trademark owner.
Vandalism refers to intentionally harming the property of others. Thence, cyber vandalism would refer to intentionally harming the data present in cyberspace and computing systems over the internet.
These types of cyber crimes in India might include physical harm done to an individual’s computer system. Even the thefts committed on the computer system finds their place under the crime of cyber vandalism.
Computer System Hacking
Gaining unauthorised and illicit access by breaking into other computer systems to gain monetary or other benefits is computer hacking. It even includes hacking individuals social media platforms like Instagram, Facebook, Whatsapp and others.
Viruses and other malware that latch themselves to a computer or a file and keep on spreading to other files and computers on a network
They frequently have an impact on the data on a computer by modifying or removing it. Worm assaults have a significant effect on people’s computerised systems.
Like hacking, cyber trespass also refers to gaining illegal access to someone’s computer without their expressed and implied authorisation. Unlike hacking, the trespasser does not disturb, alter, misuse, or damage data or system using a wireless internet connection.
Internet Time Thefts
Hacking even encompasses internet time thefts. It refers to the illicit usage of Internet hours purchased by another individual. The person obtaining access to another person’s ISP user ID and password, either through hacking or unlawful methods, use it to access the Internet without the other person’s knowledge.
Time theft could get identified if your Internet time has to be recharged frequently, despite occasional usage.
Cyber Crimes against Government
Certain infractions committed by many participants attempting to endanger the governments by exploiting internet facilities results in cyber crimes against the government. It includes:
Cyber terrorism is a big domestic as well as international problem. Terrorist assaults on the Internet typically take the shape of distributed denial of service attacks, hate websites and hate e-mails, attacks on critical computer networks, and so on. Cyber terrorist operations jeopardise the nation’s sovereignty and integrity.
It refers to malicious hacking and surveillance for political purposes. It is a type of information warfare that sometimes gets compared to conventional war. However, this comparison is debatable due to both its accuracy and political intent.
Dissemination of pirated software
It entails transferring pirated software from one computer to another to erode official records and information.
Cyber Crimes against Women and Children
The easy usage and availability of the internet make cyberspace more accessible. Lack of know-how about the working of cyberspace and cyber law accentuates the criminal element in it. Cyber illiteracy often leads people to commit crimes.
The complex environment of cyberspace establishes a relationship between people, software, and services assisted by the global distribution of Information and Communication Technology (ICT) devices and networks. Increasing penetration of technology in society and ICT innovations exacerbates cyberspace’s crime against women and children.
Such crimes against women and children in cyberspace have the following characteristics:
- Act as a digital analogy to the crimes committed in the physical world.
- Advance and speedy, thereby requiring timely prevention and detection.
- Difference of criminal mentality in cyberspace from that in the physical space.
Major cyber crimes committed against women and children are:
- Cyber pornography and obscenity
- Cyber Stalking
- Cyber Bullying
- Cyber Morphing
NCRB’s data count for cyber crimes against women and children during the past three years (2017-2019) are:
Number of registered cases
Further, NCRB states that prime cyber crimes against women and children have been cyber blackmailing and threatening, cyber pornography and hosting, cyberstalking and bullying, defamation and morphing, fake profile.
Cyber Crime Reporting Portal
The Cyber Crime Reporting Portal is a project initiated by the Ministry of Home Affairs, Government of India under the National Mission for the Safety of Women that allows victims or complainants to register online for concerns of cybercrimes in India.
Presently, the site handles online complaints concerning Child Pornography (CP)/Child Sexual Abuse Material (CSAM) or sexually explicit content like Rape/Gang Rape (CP/RGR).
If individual wishes to report something other than cyber crime incidents, or an emergency, call the local police department at 100.
Complaints submitted on this portal get handled by the appropriate police authorities of the states/UTs depending on the information provided in the complaints.
Advantages of Cyber Laws
The following are some of the benefits of cyberlaw in preventing cyber crimes in India:
- E-commerce Security for Starting an Online Business.
- Site security is provided via a digital certificate.
- Unwanted Digital information can get blocked.
- Proper traffic monitoring.
- Protection against common scams.
- Introduction of new security agencies such as Cyber Cell Software and Hardware security
- Effective usage of E-Forms, as directed.
- Email is a legitimate means of communication that has been allowed by the Courts.
Punishment for Cyber Crimes in India
The following are some frequent cyber-crime scenarios that can lead to prosecution under the IT Act 2000 (as modified in 2008) Act’s fines and offences-
- Harassment with a fake public profile on a social networking site: A fake public profile of a person is made on a social networking site with the correct address, residence information, or contact data, but they get labelled as a ‘prostitute’ or a ‘loose character.’ As a result, the victim gets harassed.
Sections 66A and 67 of the IT Act and Section 509 of the Indian Penal Code are relevant.
- Online hate community: An online hate communities formed to incite religious groups to act or adopt objectionable legislation.
Provisions of sections 66A, 67 of the IT Act, and Section 509 of the Indian Penal Code get applicable to it.
- Email account hacking occurs when a victim’s email account is compromised, and obscene emails are sent to persons in the victim’s contact book.
Sections 43, 66, 66A, 66C, 67, 67A, and 67B of the IT Act applies to it.
- Credit card fraud: Unsuspecting people would make internet purchases using compromised laptops.
Sections 43, 66, 66C, and 66D of the IT Act, as well as Section 420 of the IPC, are relevant.
- Web defacement: It occurs when a website’s homepage gets replaced with a pornographic or libellous page. On significant days, government websites frequently get targeted by hackers.
Sections 43 and 66 of the IT Act and 66F, 67, and 70 of the IT Act are relevant in some instances.
- Instilling viruses, worms, backdoors, rootkits, trojans, and bugs: All of the above are harmful programmes used to destroy or gain access to electronic data.
Sections 43, 66, 66A of the IT Act and Section 426 of the Indian Penal Code. are applicable here.
- Cyber Terrorism: Increasingly usage of virtual (G-Drive, FTP sites) and physical storage devices (USBs, hard drives) to conceal information and records from their unlawful activities by terrorists refers to cyber terrorism.
Provisions that may apply: Conventional terrorist legislation, as well as Section 69 of the IT Act, may apply.
- Online sale of illicit articles: Facilitating the sale of narcotics, drugs, firearms, and animals through the internet
Provisions that apply: In most circumstances, standard laws apply.
- Cyber pornography: This is one of the internet’s most lucrative enterprises. While pornography is not banned in many nations, child pornography is.
Sections 67, 67A, and 67B of the Code apply.
Role of Cyber Crimes Cells
The cyber crimes cell plays a significant role in solving and preventing cyber crimes in India. Cybercrime cell provides a platform to file cyber complaints and redress the victims.
Though India introduced cyber laws to shield individuals and the data online, such enacted legislation does not suffice with the dynamic nature of cyberspace. It falls short to save the victims in the event of the happening of the crime.
To rectify the situation, Information Technology Act 2000 made specific changes in the provisions of the Criminal Procedure Code and the Evidence Act and further implemented new regulations to fulfil the requirements of cybercrime investigation.
Steps to file Cyber Crime Complaint
Cybercrime complaints in India could get filed in the following simple steps:
- Registering a written complaint with the cybercrime cell. With regards to the IT Act, cybercrime has global jurisdiction. Such a complaint could get registered with any of the cyber cells in India, irrespective of where committed originally.
- Filing a written complaint to the Head of the Cyber Crime Cell of the city where the complaint gets filed and personal details like name, contact details, and email address.
- Reporting the complaint to the police station with the help of legal counsel along with certain documents depending on the nature of the crime.
- In the absence of access to the cyber cell, an FIR could get registered at the police station.
Steps to file complaints related to Social Media Cyber Crimes
- Apart from the above steps, it is necessary to register such a complaint on the corresponding platform where the cyber crime in India got committed.
- Social Media platforms lay down procedures for reporting any abuse or other offences. It is beneficial to report such crimes at the initial stages of their occurrence. It would enable the concerned social media platform to take immediate steps to block further activities and protect your information privacy.
- Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat and YouTube have formulated strict and clear redressal mechanisms to protect users from online abuse and cybercrimes.
Case Study Involving Cyber Crimes in India
In 2013, India received its first cybercrime conviction. It all started with a complaint filed by Sony India Private Ltd, which operates www.sony-sambandh.com, targeting Non-Resident Indians. After paying online, NRIs may ship Sony items to their friends and family in India via the website.
The firm agrees to deliver the items to the appropriate recipients. According to the cybercrime case study, in May 2002, someone registered onto the website as Barbara Campa and bought a Sony Color Television set and a cordless earphone. She provided her credit card information and requested that the things be sent to Arif Azim in Noida. The credit card company cleared the payment, and the transaction was completed.
The materials got delivered to Arif Azim after the business followed the necessary due diligence and inspection processes.
The firm took digital images of the package received by Arif Azim at the time of delivery. The transaction was completed at that point, but after one and a half months, the credit card company notified the firm that this was an unlawful transaction since the valid owner denied making the purchase.
The corporation filed a digital fraud report with the Central Bureau of Investigation that launched an investigation under Sections 418, 419, and 420 of the Indian Penal Code.
Arif Azim got detained once the case got investigated. Investigation revealed that Arif Azim had authorisation to the credit card number of an American national while working at a contact centre in Noida, which he utilised on the company’s website.
In this one-of-a-kind cyber fraud case, the CBI retrieved the colour television and the cordless headphone. The CBI had evidence to establish their case in this instance. Therefore the accused accepted his guilt. The court convicted Arif Azim under Sections 418, 419, and 420 of the Indian Penal Code, making him the first guilty of cybercrimes.
On the other hand, the court thought that because the accused was a young kid of 24 years old and a first-time prisoner, a liberal approach was required. As a result, the accused was sentenced to one year of probation by the court. The decision has enormous ramifications for the entire country.
Aside from being the first conviction in the case of cybercrime, it has demonstrated that the Indian Penal Code may get effectively used to some forms of cybercrimes not covered under the Information Technology Act of 2000. Second, such a decision sends a clear message to all that the law cannot get manipulated.
The internet and cyberspace have reduced the distance between people and turned the world into a social village in the technological age. However, the excessive intrusion of technology in the life of people has opened up new paths to complicated crimes known as Cybercrimes.
The recent addition to the criminal list, the cybercrime could harm anyone sharing the data online, but the women and children are hit hard by such crimes. Cyber crimes in India could shape into cyberbullying, cyber molestation, cyberstalking, pornography, identity theft and even more.
The Central Government introduced cyber laws to safeguard society and prevent crime from shaping into more severe forms to control the situation. But, the laws fall short in their approach despite serious changes made to both cyber and criminal laws. Therefore, such a severe issue at hand requires thorough study to prevent its happening.
FAQs on Cyber Crime
When was the first cybercrime cell set up?
In the year 2018 in New Delhi
Is it possible to file a Cyber Crime complaint based on WhatsApp chat?
Yes, it is possible.
Could a cybercrime report be withdrawn?
Yes, only if an FIR is not registered.
Where could an online cybercrime cell be registered?
An online complaint could get filed at the National Cyber Crime Reporting Portal.
Which statute governs cyber crimes in India?
Information Technology Act 2000 and the Indian Penal Code provides rules and punishments for cyber offences in India.