Cyber crime, as the name suggests, is a type of crime that is committed in the cyber world. This crime is a new type of crime that has expanded its roots to almost every aspect of life of the Netizens. Our Indian law has not defined the term cyber crime as such, however, an act has been introduced in order to tackle with these types of crimes, which we know as the Information Technology Act 2000 or the IT Act 2000.
The term cyber crime is a very wide term and therefore cannot be defined in just one to two sentences. However, if we look at the nature of this crime, it can be said that it is that type of crime in which computers and computer networks are put into use or more specifically, abuse, and the crime is committed either ‘through’ them or ‘to’ them or both. According to a survey by Ipsos, the frequency of complaint filed by Indians are much higher, that is, 32% higher compared with that of the U.S., U.K. and other technologically advanced countries where it ranges only about 11-15%. The 32% data is for the complained cases let alone the non complained ones.
One of the main causes of such rapid increase in the cases of cyber crimes is our dependency on it, even for the most basic things like shopping, making payment, ordering food, etc. and where there are such uncontrollable dependency some people out there are definitely going to take advantage of it.
Some reasons are listed below:
- Easy money without revealing the identity because they use hacked computers and fake or stolen I.P. Address.
- The complex technologies and coding increase the chances of error which the criminals take advantage of.
- They know how to easily fool the bio-metrics, they even use force to do that.
- The evidences which are usually in the form of data can be easily destroyed without leaving behind any trace.
Due to all such reasons, most such cases remain inaccessible.
We come across different cases of cyber crimes being committed almost on a daily basis in the newspaper or on the television or through any other person. There they usually narrate the whole procedure through which the crime was committed, these crimes are usually what we technically call as phishing where the fraudsters earn huge amount of money by misleading the victim by acting as a bank manager where they ask for sensitive bank details. But this is not it, cyber crimes are way more advanced than this. Criminals also commit non cyber crimes with the help of cyber stuffs. Now a days, every third person has a social account and they tend to regularly update about their daily life, their personal information like their address, etc. These personal information that a social media account holder gives on his account works as a tracer to the criminals and it becomes easier for them to harm that person, maybe by kidnapping them as they now know about the whereabouts of that person. The other very popular cyber crime is hacking.
It has now become so common that even the highly secured websites of government bodies get hacked, let alone the social media accounts of common people. The most common method of hacking is that the hacker usually sends some links to the email or any social account of the victim and the moment the user clicks open that link, the hacker gets access to the computer system of that user. We can also witness such cases where we get spam messages in our e-mails reading that we have won some amount of prize money and in return they ask us about our bank details. This is where many people fall into the trap, even the educated ones. These types of cyber crimes are something that we see on a daily basis. Research has shown that every eight out of ten people have in some or the other way fallen into such traps of cyber crimes and have been victimized
All the above examples were something which are way common and something which anyone can do. But like in all other areas, cyber crime has also given birth to some of the very famous cyber criminals of the world who can also be referred to as ‘cyber crime celebrities’. The very famous criminal Paul le Roux can be connected to cyber crime as he used his advanced programming skills in drugs and arms dealings. He was a get programmer who dropped out of school just like mark Zukerberg and bill gates, but chose to put his skills to contribute to the opioid epidemic in the U.S.A by supplying the drug to the common citizens of the U.S.A.
The very recent case of Julian Assange, who was derived out of the Ecuador Embassy and arrested in London, is the founder of the famous website Wikileaks, where supposedly confidential information of the government websites were leaked and published. These personalities are famous international cyber criminals who contributed their technical skills to something which is unlawful. While there are international level criminals, surprisingly, a data has shown that in recent years, more than half of India’s crimes committed by fraudsters posing as bank managers and extracting money (phishing) come from a small district of Jharkhand called Jamtara.
Home secretary Rajiv Gauba referred to it as a cyber crime hub, where the number of arrests in 2017 crossed 100. The police said that such crimes were generally committed by school and college dropout kids which puts light on the fact that such crimes are not at all complicated to commit and even someone who is not decently educated can commit it. But more than that, even the educated individuals fall in such traps in spiteof plethora of awareness programsheld by the government.
Now the question that arises is that how did this epidemic evolve so strong that it is now even able to attack the power guards, impact the financial institutions and also as it is said, corrupted the very controversial Electronic Voting Machines in India, as claimed by self proclaimed cyber expert, Syed Shuja who said that EVMs could be hacked, which, if true, could disrupt the very basis of democracy. In the early eras, crime relatedto computers were only physical attacks on computers and destroying it physically. There were no cyber crimes as such. During the 1870s, initial cases of cyber crimes appeared wherein the teenagers were known for telephone phrasing. By the 1990s, the internet was seen as a unique medium of fastest speed in human history and increased reliance on technology. In 1992, the first cyber crime appeared wherein the first polymorphic virus was released. In India, one of the very first cases of cyber crime was that of Yahoo v. Akash Arora.
This case occurredin 1999. In this case, the defendant Akash Arora was accused of using the trademark or domain name ‘yahooindia.com’ and a decree of permanent injunction was sought. The other case is ofVinod Kaushik and ors. v. Madhvika Joshi and ors. In which it was held that accessing of e-mail accounts of husband and father in law without their permission is unauthorized under section 43 of the IT Act, 2000. This case was decided in 2011. All these cases refer to the fact as how did the cyber crime evolve, especially referring to evolution in India.
Eventually, as social networks popularized, the rate of cyber crime started increasing as the criminals got more easy access to the personal life of the user. With this evolution, rose one of the most barbaric forms of crime, that is, Non Consensual sharing of Intimate Images (NCSIA). According to national crime record bureau, 569 cases out of 5987 cyber crime cases were motivated by sexual exploitation in 2015-2016. in such types of cases, obscene images of the victim are put on the internet without the consent of the person. It is also known as non consensual porn.
According to the reports of NCRB, in recent years the circulation of such images on the internet has increased to 104%. Most of such cases end up being unreported certainly because the family wants not to disrupt privacy or do not want to get involved into police and courts, and more than that the victim tends to keep such cases up to herself/himself out of fear that everybody is going to blame the victim. The criminal knows about these facts and takes advantage of it. This is a crime that can traumatize whoever suffers it, be it a big celebrity just like the recent case of Hollywood actress Bella Thorne, or some common girl. In India especially its a big issue which should be worried about because there is not particular special laws dealing with such crimes. Maybe because, most of the cases go unreported the law makers do not yet know about the intensity of this crime. If such a case ever comes up then we have few provisions in the Indian Penal Code (IPC) and the IT Act to help deal with such cases.
Some provisions are mentioned below:
Section 67A of the IT Act which sentences the person a maximum of 5 years term imprisonment with fine.
Section 354C of the IPC in which the capturing of any such image has to be consensual but its dissemination is non consensual. But one thing to be noted is that this provision does not undertake morphed or photo-shopped images which may have the similar effect. Section 292 of the IPC wherein circulation of any obscene object is punishable.
Section 66E of the IT Act which makes transmission of images of private area of a person punishable, given that even the capturing of such an image should be non consensual.
Now the problem is that one or the other such provisions has some kind of loopholes in it, especially section 66E of the IPC where it has been mentioned that the capturing should be non consensual and as opposite to that, it has been seen that most of the such cases have the images captured with consent in the past, of which the convicted person took advantage. This sub branch of NCSIA is called as revenge porn where the person, out of jilt or in order to take revenge uploads the images or videos. This is usually done by the ex partner. Also, the maximum punishment is of mere 5 years whereas the trauma that the victim goes through remains almost the lifetime. Also the images and videos keep on circulating on the internet. In a case of west Bengal, the judge of the court referred to this crime as ‘virtual rape’.
After realizing the seriousness and gravity of these crimes, the law makers put into force the Information Technology Act of 2000 which went through number of amendments to correctify and cover up the loop holes present in the previous one. But even after the amendments, loopholes still exist and the growing number of cyber crime cases are proof of it. In the very famous case of Shreya Singhal v. Union of India, Mr. Tushar Mehta, learned Additional Solicitor General from the defendant’s side, contended that any matter which is posted on the internet or made available to the netizens is certainly more universally accessible than any other media, it is not confined to any particular boundary, unlike other medias. It therefore becomes obvious that this requires more regulations. The growing crime rate is becoming difficult to tackle with the current law systems.
More amendments and more strict laws will be required, some of which are given below:
It requires more time to collect evidences in cyber cases, as evidences can be easily destroyed, therefore more time span should be given to the investigating authorities.
As Mr. Tushar Mehta said, any matter on the social media media is not confined and can be accessed from anywhere, the lawmakers should impose restrictions on the accessibility, or limit it so that the abuse decreases. Specific laws should be made on matters such as cyber bullying, children, NCSIA which should consist of all the possible provisions and counterattacks of loopholes so that other numerous acts and laws are not looked for.
More advanced training should be given to the police officials on this subject. Judicial proceedings on such matters should be specified. A special court, if possible, should be introduced so that such cases are dealt separately and also there will be no unwanted accumulation of cases, which we already have. The term of imprisonment should be increased for some crimes.
Excessive advertisements pop ups on many websites and apps should be regulated.
Apart from all the legal aspects, something which is very important is that there should be an awareness on an individual level. Unless each person do not become aware and cautious, it will be difficult to regulate these crimes. Laws along with individual awareness can help to make India free of cyber crime.
-(Varsha Mishra, India).