Cybercrime and Cybersecurity are becoming important in the 21st century as every person in this world is addicted to digital technology. Cybercrimes and cybersecurity appeared as critical issues for society. Cybersecurity is known for protecting computer systems and protecting important information, or documents from unauthorized access and networks but cybercrime is using digital technology for digital crimes such as hacking, identity theft, Cross-site scripting, cyberstalking, Vishing, Cyber Trafficking, SMS spoofing, web jacking, malicious software, pornographic content, and online fraud. According to Pawan Duggal, “Cyber crime refers to all the activities done with criminal intent in cyberspace or using the medium of the internet. These could be either criminal activities in the conventional sense or activities, newly evolved with the growth of the new medium. Any activity, which basically offends human sensibilities, can be included in the ambit of cybercrimes.” The use of technology is rising, so there should be an effective judicial response for tackling online threats and frauds. Government is also responsible for the detention, anticipation, investigation, and prosecution of crimes with the help of their Law Enforcement Agencies (LEA). The judiciary can take measure steps for the cyber attack but as the networking is borderless there are still chances for a cyber attack.
THE EMERGENCE OF CYBERCRIME AND CYBERSECURITY IN INDIA
There is a rise in cybercrime in recent years. Bank Fraud, Social Media fraud, and Business fraud, Phonecall frauds are increasing in our country. Such an example of phone call fraud is happening in the last few days. A Phone call is made from numbers (+911409320671, 911409320661,911409320589,911409320655,911409320264), and as soon as the receiver picks up the phone it hacked the receiver’s bank account and withdraws the money illegally. Cyberattacks are more frequent for companies and online transactions. Cybercrime is growing in several factors in India. As the population is increasing it is difficult for cybercrime law enforcement to keep an eye on every online activity. In India, every business and transaction is happening online so, it is giving more chances of cyberattacks. Despite various challenges, cybercrime is still emerging in India but India has taken various steps to combat cybercrime and improve cybersecurity. In 2013, the Indian Government launched National Cyber Security Law for protecting consumers from cyberattacks. The government also launched specialized cybercrime units with law enforcement agencies and also partnered with foreign countries for the expertise and sharing of important pieces of information. Online harassment is increasing drastically in the 21st century.
Social Media Fraud – cyber fraudsters hack social media accounts for various purposes like conducting scams, personal information stealing and spreading fake news. Sometimes they make fake accounts or hack the original accounts of the users and post derogatory posts on their fake social media sites to harass the original user.
Cyber child sexual Abuse – In 2019, the National Crime Records Bureau surveyed that there were approx 24,000 cases filed that show crime against children which includes cyber child sexual abuse.
Cyber Bullying – Cyberbullying and online harassment is increasingly becoming serious issue in our country, mainly among women and children. In 2020, a teenager committed suicide because of cyberbullying and online harassment. She was a resident of Mumbai.
CURRENT LEGAL FRAMEWORK FOR CYBERCRIME IN INDIA
Information Technology (IT) Act, 2000 in India is a legal framework that is governed by the Indian Government. The IT Act, of 2000 is amended several times after its drafting and the last amendment happened in 2008. Under the Information Technology Act, of 2000 many offences are defined and acknowledged such as hacking, phishing, identity theft, cyberstalking, and outspread of online viruses. It also launched the Establishment of the Indian Computer Emergency Response Team (CERT-In) to deliver cybersecurity information and control cybersecurity issues. Not only IT Act 2000, but there are also various other laws available which deal with cyber-attacks. These comprise Indian Copyright Act, Indian Penal Code Act, and the Indian Evidence Act. All these legal frameworks help to address the issues of cybersecurity and protect online businesses and transactions from cyberattacks.
Cyberterrorism is one of the controversial cyberattacks which happen due to political and ideological differences. This cyberterrorism violence leads to the loss of life and bodily harm. Cyberterrorism is the combination of cyberspace and terrorism.
There are a few important sections that protect society from cyberattacks:-
Sec 66 A – Punishment for sending offensive messages through communication service, etc. -Any person who sends, by means of a computer resource or a communication device,-
(a) any information that is grossly offensive or has a menacing character; or
(b) any information which he knows to be false, but for the purpose of causing annoyance, inconvenience, danger, obstruction, insult, injury, criminal intimidation, enmity, hatred, or ill will, persistently by making use of such computer resource or a communication device; or
(c) any electronic mail or electronic mail message for the purpose of causing annoyance or inconvenience or to deceive or to mislead the addressee or recipient about the origin of such messages
shall be punishable with imprisonment for a term that may extend to three years and with a fine.
In simple words, Section 66A deals with cyber-related crimes such as cyber-terrorism, hacking, and denial of service attacks.
Sec 506 of the IPC states that – Word, gesture or act intended to insult the modesty of a woman.—Whoever, intending to insult the modesty of any woman, utters any word, makes any sound or gesture, or exhibits any object, intending that such word or sound shall be heard, or that such gesture or object shall be seen, by such woman, or intrudes upon the privacy of such woman, shall be punished with simple imprisonment for a term which may extend to one year, or with fine, or with both.
In other words, it awarded punishment for online harassment and cyberstalking which is caused to women.
The Judiciary system is trying its best to protect the citizen’s privacy and security. The introduction of imposition of strict liability, specialized courts, and proactive regulation of online activities focusing on the Judiciary’s commitment to protecting society from cybercrime.
National Cyber Security Policy (NCSP) is one of the important infrastructures for cyber security. It was introduced in 2013 and its main objective is to protect the nation’s information and communication framework against cybercrime. NCSP formats a graph which is the government’s vision of making a secure cyberspace in India. National Cyber Security Policy’s initial keys were the establishment of the National Critical Information Infrastructure Protection Centre (NCIIPC), National Cyber Coordination Centre (NCCC), and the formation of a Cyber Swachhta Kendra (CSK) to supply elements and resources for spotting and removal of malware.
JUDICIAL RESPONSE TO CYBERCRIME AND CYBERSECURITY CASES
The Bank NSP Case
In this case, a management trainee of a bank got engaged in marriage. The couple used to exchange many emails using the company’s computers. After some time they had broken up their marriage and the young lady created some fake email ids such as “Indian bar associations” and sent emails to the boy‘s foreign clients. She used the bank’s computer to do this. The boy‘s company lost a huge number of clients and took the bank to court. The bank was held liable for the emails sent using the bank‘s system
Shreya Singhal v. Union of India
It is a landmark case that plays a very vital role in the Indian legal system. It revolves around the fundamental right of ‘Freedom of Speech and Expression enshrined under Article 19(1) (a) of the Constitution of India, which challenges the constitutional validity of section 66A of the Information Technology Act 2000. The Apex Court struck down section 66A of the Information Technology Act, 2000 which provided provisions for the arrest of those who posted allegedly offensive content on social media or on the internet by upholding freedom of expression. The Supreme Court in Shreya Singhal v. Union of India also held that the Section was not saved by virtue of being a ‘reasonable restriction’ on the freedom of speech under Article 19(2).
While invalidating Section 66A in the case of Shreya Singhal vs Union of India, the Supreme Court not only gave a fresh lease on life to ‘Freedom of Speech & Expression’ in India but while deciding this landmark case of ‘Shreya Singhal vs Union of India’ the Hon’ble Apex Court has also successfully discharged its responsibility of being a constitutional court for Indian citizens.
S.M.C. Pneumatics (India) Pvt. Ltd. v. Jogesh Kwatra
It is India’s first case of a cyber defamation case, In this case, the defendant Jogesh Kwatra being an employee of the plaintiff company started sending derogatory, defamatory, obscene, vulgar, filthy, and abusive emails to his employers as also as different subsidiaries of the said company all over the world with the aim to defame the company and its Managing Director Mr R K Malhotra. The plaintiff filed a suit for permanent injunction restraining the defendant from doing his illegal acts of sending derogatory emails to the plaintiff. On behalf of the plaintiffs, it was contended that the emails sent by the defendant were distinctly obscene, vulgar, abusive, intimidating, humiliating, and defamatory in nature.
State of Tamil Nadu v. Suhas Katti
Decided by a Chennai court in 2004. The woman, a divorcee, complained to the police about a man who was sending her obscene, defamatory, and annoying messages in a Yahoo message group after she turned down his proposal for marriage. The accused opened a fake email account in the name of the woman and forwarded emails received in that account. The victim also received phone calls from people who believed that she was soliciting sex work. The police complaint was lodged in February 2004 and within a short span of seven months from the filing of the First Information Report, the Chennai Cyber Crime Cell achieved a conviction. Katti was punished with two years of rigorous imprisonment and a Rs. 500 fine under Section. 469 IPC (forgery for the purpose of harming reputation), one year’s simple imprisonment, and Rs. 500 for an offense under Section. 509 IPC (words, gestures, or acts intended to insult the modesty of a woman) and two years rigorous imprisonment and Rs.4000 fine for an offense under Section 67 of IT Act 2000 (punishment for publishing or transmitting obscene material in electronic form)
PROPOSED REFORMS TO IMPROVE JUDICIAL RESPONSE TO CYBERCRIME IN INDIA
With the establishment of the Cyber Appellate Tribunal under the Information Technology Act, of 2000 the Indian government took the initial steps a long time back. The Tribunal has been directed to hear the appeals against the order issued by the adjudicating officers which are written in the act and have the potential to impose penalties for online offences. The government has established various actions, like the Cyber Crime Reporting Portal and the National Cyber Crime Reporting System, to speed up the reporting and investigation of cybercrime cases.
To reduce the cyberattack in India, and to improve the Judicial response various reforms have been proposed. Some of the legal judicial responses for protecting from cybercrime in India are:
- Cyber Crime Cell – The government is planning to establish a crime branch unit in every district of the State. The crime branch cell will have specialized trained officers for cybercrime investigation.
- Judicial Officer Training – The Judicial officers will get specialized training for cybercrime investigation and prosecution to get them to understand the cases.
- Specialized Court for Cybercrime – The government is interested to establish a specialized court for cybercrime for a smooth process to handle cybercrime cases.
Ministry of Home Affairs has introduced a Cyber and Information Security (CIS) division that helps with cybercrime investigations, and the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) has introduced a Cyber Crime Investigation Cell. The IT Act was amended in 2008 and includes more cyber crimes such as cyber terrorism, identity theft, phishing, and hacking.
It is a good step taken by the government to reduce cybercrime in our country. Specialized court and crime cells will help the judiciary system speed up the pending cases of cybercrime and give justice to the applicants. The judiciary system is playing an important role in making people aware of cybersecurity and cybercrime in India. But more change needs to be done. For making the digital platform safe, the government needs to strengthen the law framework. The government needs to collaborate with the state police departments and other agencies for in-depth investigation and prosecution of cybercrime cases.