CYBERCRIMES: ARE WOMEN BEING SOFT TARGETS?
Author: Ekta Sood
Asst. Prof. Law, HIMCAPES College of Law, Una, HP
Today we cannot imagine our life without technology. Technology has become an integral part of our life. With the advent of technology, crimes have also increased and one such crime is cybercrime. Cybercrime is mostly related to computers. Anyone can be the victim of cybercrimes but mostly women and children became the target of this type of crime. One can be the victim of cybercrime sitting in her own house or while working in the office. Cybercrimes are also increasing due to the paucity of laws, the death of enforcement agencies and lack of awareness and education among peoples. Cybercrime is not going to stop until or unless we people do not become aware of its roots. We all are associated with the cyber world whether it is the use of phones or it is the use of computers. But most of the women are not aware of the dark side of this technology. The paper aims to understand the types of cybercrimes and how women are being the soft target of cybercrimes. The paper also targets the reason behind cyber crimes against women and what suggestive measures we should take to reduce such type of crimes.
KEYWORDS: cyber world, cybercrime, women, stalking, defamation, harassment.
CYBERCRIMES: ARE WOMEN BEING SOFT TARGETS?
Technology has made our life easier. The computer is part of that technology. Computers are being used for various purposes across the globe. Earlier, computers were part of big businesses and were used in a professional capacity. But, in today’s scenario, we can see that computers are common in the household. Be it kids, adults or aged people, everyone is using computers. Computers are popular in every age group. With the advent of computers, crimes related to computers and technology is also prevalent. This evolves the term ‘cybercrime’.
A very popular crime in today’s world is ‘cybercrime’ and is playing a devastating role in modern India. The wider interpretation of ‘cybercrime’ includes any illegal activity where the internet or computer is either a target or tool or both. The term ‘cybercrime’ is not defined in any statute. However, the term is judicially interpreted in some judgments pronounced by the courts in India.
This article is an attempt to highlight the issues of cybercrime-related to women. Women’s safety in our country is always an issue with the increase in crime against women. Earlier, women were considered safe in four walls of the house but the way cybercrime is increasing, women are becoming soft targets of such crimes. This is a major concern for them as they don’t feel safe anymore, anywhere.
CYBERCRIMES: DEFINITION AND TYPES
Cybercrime is a criminal activity that involves a network, a networked device or a computer. The purpose of cybercrime can be carried out either to generate profit for cybercriminals or to destroy or damage the computer device. Cybercrime also infects the computer by spreading malware or viruses. Cybercrime to generate profit can be carried out by stealing financial accounts, credit cards or any other payment information.
Definition of cybercrime
The US Department of Justice defines cybercrime by dividing it into three categories:
- A crime where computer devices are used as a target. E.g.- to gain network access
- A crime where computers are used as a weapon.
- Crimes where computers are used as an ancillary to crime.
The Council for Europe Convention on Cybercrime defines cybercrime as a malicious activity which includes the system interferences that compromise network integrity and availability, illegal obstruction of data and copyright infringement.
According to Merriam Webster, “Cybercrime is a criminal activity (such as fraud, theft or distribution of child pornography) committed using a computer especially to illegally access, transmit or manipulate data”
Types of cybercrime
- Financial crimes
Behind all the crimes, money is the most common motive. The same scenario works for cybercrime. Generally, it is being observed that the main motives for committing cybercrimes are financial motives rather than for ‘revenge’ or ‘fun’. With the increase in the use of the internet and mobile banking, dematerialization of shares, online share trading and securities, the trend of cybercrime is likely to increase unrelenting. Financial crimes include cyber cheating, money laundering, credit card frauds, accounting scams.
- Cyber pornography
One of the largest businesses on the internet today is cyber pornography. Millions of pornographic websites flourish these days on the internet. However, in some of the countries, per se is not illegal but child pornography is strictly illegal in most nations. Cyber pornography includes pornographic websites that are produced using computers.
- Illegal content
In today’s scenario, if we see the internet then we will find that it is full of illegal content. Such contents are prohibited by almost all international laws from around the world. Illegal content includes animal and child-related sexual content, selling of unapproved drugs, online prostitution services and copyrighted material such as videos, music, books, software, etc.
- Online gambling
Online gambling is offered by thousands of websites. However, in several countries, online gambling is legalized. So legally, the owners of such websites are safe in home countries. The legal issue arises only when a person residing in a foreign country like India (where online gambling is illegal) gambles on such a website.
The word ‘botnet’ is derived from two words ‘bot’ and ‘network’. The term ‘bot’ refers to a large number of controlled computers (bots) linked over a network (internet). Botnets are such type of networks which are controlled externally by remote hackers and are operated from compromised computers. Botnets are used by such remote hackers to send spam or attack other computers.
Stalking means the act or crime of repeatedly and willfully harassing or following another person in such circumstances that it would cause a person to fear, injury or death especially because of express or implied threats.
This kind of cybercrime involves online harassment such as a user is subjected to an excess of emails and online messages. Stalkers use search engines, websites and social media to threaten the users. Cyberstalkers know their target/victim and make the person feel concerned for their safety.
- Social engineering
It is one of the typical types of cybercrimes which can be launched against an individual or an organization. In social engineering, people are manipulated to extract valuable information from them that can be later on used to illegally enter into their secured network such as calls pretended to be from customer care to extract OTP or other passwords. The main motive of this type of cybercrime is often to steal data, financial information, money and other sensitive information.
In phishing, hackers send malicious email attachments to gain access to the user’s account or computer. Cyber criminals are becoming more prominent and emails sent by them are not flagged or spam. They tricked users through email claiming that they need to change their password or update their billing information which gives access to cyber criminals.
- Denial of service attack (DOS)
DOS attacks involve flooding a computer with more requests than it can handle which results in the crashing of computers and authorized users become unable to access the services offered by the computer.
Another variation is Disturbed Denial of Services (DDOS). In such types of attacks the perpetrators are many and are geographically widespread.
Most cyber criminals, who want to gain unauthorized access to the systems and steal important data, take advantage of viruses. Computer viruses are small software programs that are originated to spread from one computer to another to infect them or destroy them. Viruses can spread through the internet or removable devices.
HISTORY OF CYBERCRIME
It is a general fact that whenever any person holds some valuable information; criminals always look to steal that information for revenge or financial gain. Before the concept of the internet, criminals to gain access for an individual’s personal information had to dig people’s files or have to intercept their mails. Over the internet, stealing any information for any purpose is cybercrime. After becoming an essential part of our life, information leakage through computers has also increased. Today, the cybercrime has reached to the level of competition. Many organizations are spending millions and trillions to protect their user’s data from criminals.
In the late ‘70s, the first-ever computer virus known as ‘creeper’ was created. ‘Creeper’ virus targeted a telephone company to make free international calls. This was the first encounter with cybercrime which resulted in the launch of antivirus known as ‘reaper’. In 1988, the modern-day virus changed into a computer worm known as ‘Morris worm’ which was distributed via the internet. It was the first to gain media attention. Now the most widely used cyberattacks are ransom wire, point of sale attacks, phishing, network traveling worms, botnets, cyber warfare, etc.
At the beginning of this century, we saw a new malware emerge. The infamous I LOVE YOU worm infected 50 million computers in the year 2000. This malware is capable of corrupting data by exploiting user’s email contacts.
India recorded 9, 622, 11, 592 and 12, 317 cases of cybercrime in 2014, 2015 and 2016 respectively. The National Democratic Alliance government has set a goal of making India a $ 5 trillion economy by 2024. With the growing economy in India, the numbers of cyber attacks have also gone up and the majority of such attacks originate from China, Russia, Singapore and the Commonwealth of Independent States countries.
VICTIMS OF CYBERCRIMES
Based on the nature and purposes of the offences, cybercrimes have been classified into three categories depending upon the victims of the crime. It may be against government, property or person.
- Crimes against government
There is various numbers of instances of cybercrime against the government. The most significant example is the attack on the twin towers in Manhattan which was due to the significant contribution of computers. Other examples could be cyber terrorism, extortion or threat to disrupt services or shut down of essential services.
- Crimes against property
The common examples of crime against property are software and hardware piracy, Trojan horses, hacking, phishing, money laundering, denial of service attack, espionage, etc.
- Crimes against person
The significant examples of crime against a person are defamation, theft, gambling, cyberstalking, hate messages, cyber pornography, sale of controlled items, etc.
WOMEN AS A VICTIM OF CYBERCRIMES
Traditionally, in Indian society, women are given very high importance. Women were considered equivalent to ‘goddesses’ or ‘Devi’. Earlier, women used to occupy a vital role in society but while reaching the modern era, women were started to be considered as social objects. She is treated as inferior to men and this situation is created because of huge gender bias between men and women in various social spheres.
With the advancement of technology, cybercrime is increasing rapidly and cybercrime against women is on an alarming stage and it will pose a major threat to the security of a person as a whole. When we are referring to cyber crimes against women in India then it includes sexual crimes and sexual abuse on the internet. Specifically, women are becoming more prone to cybercrimes. Following are the details of cybercrimes which are specifically making women as their victims.
- CYBER HARASSMENT
According to the Canadian Human Right Commission, harassment is a form of discrimination and it includes any physical or verbal behavior which is unwanted and tends to offend or humiliates you. Harassment which is sexual in nature is known as sexual harassment. Indian law elaborated on the definition of sexual harassment through the Criminal Law Amendment (bill) 2013 which is known as The Sexual Harassment at the Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal) Act, 2013. According to the Act, sexual harassment includes-:
- Physical Contact and advances.
- Demand or request for sexual favors,
- Making sexually colored remarks
- Any other unwelcome verbal, non-verbal or physical conduct of sexual nature.
Cyber harassment can be harassment via e-mail in which criminal blackmails, threatens and constantly sends love letters in anonymous names to one’s email box. It is not a new concept and is very similar to sending anonymous letters as it happened at earlier ages.
The contributing factor which encourages harassment is that a very low percentage of women are active on the internet and knows how to operate online in computer networks. Hence, giving rise to male dominance on the net. It increases the frequency of harassment on the minority gender on the internet. Another important factor is jurisdiction to hear and resolve cases. Because of the wide reach of the internet, it is almost impossible to assess which court will have jurisdiction. As in cases involving an international claim, it is difficult to determine the jurisdiction.
In 2001, a young man, a student of 11th grade was convicted for making vulgar and indecent remarks about a female classmate on a website called amazing.com under section 509 of IPC. Section 509 makes any word or gesture intended to insult the modesty of women chargeable.
In our day to day life, we can see various instances of cyber sexual harassment cases. Facebook, WhatsApp, Snapchat, Instagram are a few examples of social networking sites where female users have to go through sexual harassment even without knowing it. Sending indecent graphics or the use of words through these social networking sites is very common. Most of the time, female users ignore such type of messages or are very reluctant to report it.
- Raju Iyer Versus Jawahar Lal Nehru University
In this case, the respondent had sent two mails on 11-4-2008 and 12-4-2008 carrying filthy and vulgar graphic contents which expressly asked for oral sexual favors. Respondent also made unnecessary phone calls at untimely hours and uses derogatory language to harass her. University’s disciplinary committee imposed the penalty of compulsory retirement on him, to which he filed an appeal in the High Court of Delhi. Delhi High Court upheld the disciplinary action, found him guilty and dismissed the petition.
- The Bhubaneswara case
The Xavier Institute of Management lodged a cybercrime complaint in December 2004. The complaint was that staff and students of the institution are getting numerous obscene emails. There is also a threat of online hacking and spamming. Police appointed technical staff to investigate and examine the matter but at that time the police were not trained enough to deal with the situation.
According to Chairperson of the National Commission for Women, Rekha Sharma, the National Commission also received lots of complaints and they are increasing day by day because of an increase in the use of social media platforms. According to herm, such reports were usually forwarded to the police. Sometimes, the concerned social media organizers were contacted and were asked to take down the objectionable pictures uploaded on the platform. As per Rekha Sharma, such cases were more in the city where the population of cyber literate people is higher.
- CYBER STALKING
Cyberstalking is one of the most popular internet crimes. According to the University of Virginia, stalking is a repeated behavior where an individual willfully engages in harassing conducts which torment, terrorize, and alarms the other person against such harassment. Cyberstalking is conducted where cybercriminals attempt repeated acts of harassment or threatening behavior towards the victim by using internet services. Usually, on the internet, stalking happens when the perpetrators follow the victim continuously by sending him/her unwanted messages. There can be four types of the motivation behind the act-:
- Obsession for love
- Sexual harassment
- Hate and revenge
Usually, we all receive the series of undesired emails which is simply a nuisance. Such types of uninvited emails are known as spam and this type of activity is known as spamming. The targets of spammers are nobody and they anonymously send emails to so many recipients. The arrival of the extreme situations is when such spammers try to harass his victim by sending disturbing messages. Such activity if done by an individual then it is known as cyberstalking but if the same activity is done by some corporate house that is termed as corporate stalking.
There is a distinction between ‘offline stalking’ and ‘online cyberstalking’. In ‘offline stalking’, most of the victims are women by men who have met them before. However, ‘online cyberstalking’ can happen in a small room as close as the victim or as far as in other states. In this era of the latest technology, it is easier for the stalker to harass their victim sitting in a very faraway place and without actually confronting them. Similar to ‘offline stalking’, ‘online stalking’ can be a terrifying experience. In some situations, online cyberstalking can result in offline stalking by making excessive phone calls, threatening the victim, sending obscene images, etc.
Stalkers are taking advantage of moderate use of communication, as the internet has become an integral part of our professional and personal lives; the intruding capability of the internet has increased the access to personal information. Usually, both men and women are stalked but the survey reveals that the majority of victims of cyberstalking are women. A survey conducted between 2000-2006 on cyberstalking cases and shows that in majority number of cases the culprits are male and they commit the crime through chatting (10%), message board (17%) and through email (38%).
The victims of cyberstalking are common people who use internet safety on the web and are inexperienced with the rules of netiquette and internet safety. It is usually more than 75 % female population who got stalked online through discussion groups, bulletin boards and chat rooms where personal information is readily available. However, the percentage is an assumed one as most of the cases go unreported. Women who are molested are followed by their perpetrators into the cyber world and such perpetrators watch them secretly without their knowledge. Victims of cyberstalking are just as scared as those who are being stalked in the real world. The stalker can be a known person or can be a total stranger. He can sit and stalk as far as in other countries or can be sitting in the next cubicle at work.
- Ritu Kohli’s Case:
India’s first case of cyberstalking was of Mrs. Ritu Kohli. She complained that a person was using her identity and he used it to chat over the internet on the website http://www.micro.com The stalkers were chatting on the net by using her name and giving her address. He talks in obscene language and encourages the other person to call her (Ritu Kohli) on odd hours. This created havoc in the personal life of Mrs. Kohli as she received 40 calls in three days and all on odd hours. She complained to the police, who traces the IP address and arrested the offender. This case was registered under Section 509 of IPC.
- Karan Giratra Vs State
This is the only reported case to date that reaches the judiciary on cyber stalking. This case is on an application to grant anticipatory bail. In this case, woman named Shivani Saxena, whose marriage was not consummated and as a result, filed for divorce by mutual consent. Amidst all this, she met a person on the internet, while chatting, Karan Grotra who told her that he loved her and wanted to marry her. On the false excuse of introducing to her family, Karan invited Shivani to his house. Over there, he drugged her and sexually assaulted her. After that night, Karan started sending her obscene pictures which were taken on the night of the assault and also assure her that he will marry her. He also threatened her that if she does not marry him then he will circulate the pictures. As a result, the engagement ceremony was performed between the two but after a few days he called off the engagement. Shivani filed a complaint under Section 66 A of the IT Act. The court ruled out in favor of Karan and observed that Shivani had failed to disclose her previous marriage to Karan. Court also took the view that Shivani had made a delay in filing the FIR and, shockingly, the court made the statement that allegation by Shivani is false as they had consensual sexual intercourse and when Karan refuses to marry her, she filed FIR.
A study titled ‘Cyber Stalking-Victimization of girl students: An Empirical Study’ by Megha Desai and K. Jaishankar conducted on 72 women states that 12.5 % of the total cases, the respondent had an intimate relationship with their stalker before the stalking started. According to this research, 62.5 % of harassment started through emails and online chats. According to NCRB 2016 statistics, amongst all South Indian Metros, Hyderabad leads with the maximum cases which are 74 followed by Bangalore with 45 and Chennai at last with 10 cases. This makes Hyderabad, the stalking capital of South India.
- CYBER PORNOGRAPHY
Morality has two types of aspects in society, i.e. sociological and psychological. It is an individual’s perception to accept certain things are good and reject certain things as bad in society. Obscenity is one such thing that is directly related to people’s notions of morality. Obscenity has the potential to destroy public order and can disturb peace and tranquility in the society. Obscenity expressed in a fixed form is often term pornography. With the increase in technology and the internet, cyber pornography is another major form of cybercrime that affects women and young girls at large.
The word pornography is derived from the Greek word ‘Porne” which means prostitute and ‘Grahien’ which means to write. Thus, ‘pornography’ refers to work of act or literature dealing with the sex or sexual act. Pornography is a visual or verbal representation of sexual acts. In pornography, there is the portrayal of people as sexual objects for the pleasure of others. It affects women’s reputation, dignity, and life and it trembles her moral conscience too. With the impact of technology, women are depicted as sexual objects. Thus, we can say that all the respect which is once provided to them is no longer given to them in this technological era.
In pornography, women characters are killed, bound, tortured, abused and mutilated as a means of providing sexual stimulation or pleasure to the male characters. Pornography directly leads to violence against women and is morally wrong. It is violent in a variety of ways such as:-
- In pornography, women are physically forced to do it.
- Women are forced into pornography is to make living.
- Pornography is violence against women as she lives in fear because of the atmosphere of terror it creates.
- Pornography is violence against those women who consumes it as they get trapped into the addiction of this same and might get affected in the future.
According to web metrics firm, internet access in India has grown from 5 million in 2004 to 40 million in the year 2007. It continues to grow at a rate of 17 % per year. In the Asia Pacific Region, India’s growth rate on the internet is the third highest. In addition to this, accessing pornographic material has also increased with 12 % and viewers are roughly spending 3000 to 4000 dollars per second. In all this, young individuals are more likely to use the internet for watching pornography and also for chatting.
Cyber pornography means using cyberspace to generate, distribute, display or import obscene material or to publish pornography. Cyber pornography is legalized in some countries and is forbidden in many countries. In India, cyber pornography is mentioned in the Information and Technology Act, 2000. In this law, cyber pornography has the grey region as cyber pornography is not illegal it is also not legalized either. However, child pornography is a punishable offence. However, perpetrators can be punished under various sections of IPC such as Section 290 for committing public nuisance, Section 292 for committing sale of obscene books, etc, Section 292 A for printing or publishing grossly indecent or scurrilous matter or matter intended to blackmail, Section 293 for sale of obscene objects to young persons, Section 294 for doing or composing, writing, etc of obscene songs and under Section 509 for outraging the modesty of women.
- The Airforce Balbharti School (Delhi) case.
In this case, the student of the school was teased by all of his classmates because of his pockmarked face. He, tired of cruel jokes on him, decided to punish and wants to take revenge, scanned photographs of his classmates and teachers and morphed them with nude photographs. He put morphed images on the website. The father of one such classmate came to know about this and complained about the police. He was then suspended by school authorities. The juvenile court allowed his bail prayer but he was charged under Section 67 of the Information Technology Act, Section 292-294 IPC and Indecent Representation of Women Act.
- State of Tamil Nadu Vs. Suhas Katti
This is the landmark case where the accused was convicted Under Section 67 of the IT Act, 2000. In this case, the accused wants to marry the victim and was his known family member. The victim was reluctant in marrying accused. As a result, the accused started harassing her by posting obscene, annoying and defamatory messages on the yahoo chat group. She started receiving annoying phone calls in the belief that she was craving for attention. She filed a complaint in February 2004 and the accused was arrested in Mumbai. The charge sheet was filed against him U/s 67 IT Act, Section 469 and 506 IPC. The accused was found guilty and sentenced for 2 years of rigorous imprisonment and fine.
- MMS Clip Case and Delhi Public School
A Delhi Public Schoolboy allegedly filmed MMS Clip or Multimedia Messaging Service clip where his girlfriend is involved in a sexual act with him on his cell phone camera. This video is then forwarded by him to his friends and his friends forwarded it to other people. Later on, it was available with roadside vendors at a very small price. An IIT student named Ravi Raj copied it to VCD and on sale by him. He put the clip on Mumbai based action website bazzee.com.
At first, accused Ravi Raj ran away and proceedings were carried against Avinash Bajaj, CEO of Bazzee.com., who was later on acquitted. Charges U/s 67 of IT Act, Section 201, 293, 294 of IPC was levied against Ravi Raj. He was given bail on furnishing personal bond of Rs 50, 000/- with two sureties and his passport was surrendered by him.
- Lt. Col. Jagmohan Singh Case.
He was posted in Western Command, Mumbai. He was arrested for downloading videos of child pornography and for uploading them on the German website. He was arrested on 6th May 2010. He was arrested by the cyber crime investigation cell of Mumbai Police’s Crime Branch. At the time of arrest, two hard discs full of child pornographic material was seized from him. His case was initiated by the Army under the Army Act.
- CYBER DEFAMATION
The internet, in today’s era, has raised the bar for the fundamental right of speech and expression as the internet is a global medium of expression. Internet is a medium that provides limitless opportunities to make ways for netizen’s speech and expression. In this way, the internet is equally powerful to use as well as misuse it. One such way to misuse the internet is online defamation and it is capable of harming the reputation of an individual.
Defamation is rightly explained in Section 499 of IPC and is punishable under Section 500 of IPC. According to Section 499, whoever, by words either spoken or written males or publishes any statement and if such statement harms the reputation of the person, it is said to be defamation. The oral form of defamation is slander and the written or published form is libel. The imputation concerning a person must be communicated to some other person other than the person about whom the imputation is made.
Cyber defamation can also be called cyber smearing and it can be understood as an intentional infringement of another person’s right to his good name. Cyber defamation can be done with the help of the internet or computers. Cyber defamation is considered to be more of a threat or hazard owing to its abrupt nature. On the internet, any defamatory material can be distributed over a large number of persons without much difficulty. In this act, women suffer the most because a single false rumor on the internet is capable enough to degrade the status or reputation of women in the eyes of the general public. In the Indian Societal structure, the reputation, modesty and social status of women are delicate enough that one wrong word can destroy her whole life. On the internet, people are allowed to speak their minds and are easy for them to leave a defamatory comment or post on the website as there are thousands of platforms available on the internet. Some such social media platforms are Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook, chat rooms, etc. and on some of the websites as the screening system is not well equipped to examine every post for defamatory content which ends up in so many defamatory postings.
There is no special provision in the IT Act regarding cyber defamation. It is to be dealt with under Criminal Law only. It is very important to give attention to instances of defamation against women as they are the most affected group in the cyberspace. Online defamation is very much different in nature, extent, and magnitude, unlike the traditional form of defamation which adds to more vulnerability. The existing case laws show that women are very much less inclined to bring up suit against cyber defamation as reporting any case makes it sensational. Online defamation of women has a comparatively higher effect on women as it can destroy the material relation of the women. Even having large no. of cases, legislators are still silent spectators and it is needed for an hour that the government should take certain steps to make this activity as a crime and to set up legal machinery against it.
- SMC Pneumatics India Pvt Ltd. Versus Jogesh Kwatra
In this case, the accused was the employee of the plaintiff’s company. He started sending defamatory emails to his employer and a different subsidiary of the company all over the world. The court allowed ex parte interim injunction restraining the defendant from pasting such remarks.
- KPMG India Pvt. Ltd. Versus National Commission for women
In this case the respondent no. 2 mentioned that she suffered cyber defamation which further violated her right to work and live with dignity. In November 2012, the Chief Metropolitan Magistrate directed the police to block the defamatory content on websites.
Another cybercrime related to women is morphing. In morphing, the original picture was edited by an unauthorized user. Morphing involves downloading the victim’s picture from any social media like Facebook, etc. by using a fake identity, edit it and again upload them on the internet. It is a common phenomenon to harass the women by editing the face of the victim with that of a naked body through the use of image editing software. The images are morphed just to tarnish the image of the victim women and to defame her character. It is a new trend in India that usually, celebrities’ pictures were morphed by criminals. But now days even an ordinary woman is also the target of a man who wants to take revenge from her. It can be because she rejected her love proposal or marriage proposal. Through morphing, the victim is being blackmailed by the accused because the victim knows that once the photograph is leaked, it will tarnish her image in society.
The case which falls under this category is the Air Force Balbharti School Case where the student of the school was teased by his classmates. He wants to take revenge so he morphed the pictures of his classmates and teachers with nude photographs. Two persons including a juvenile were arrested for morphing the photo of a girl who was passed out and circulating obscene MMS among his friends through mobile phone. A 24-year-old MBA who was employed under an automobile was arrested by the crime branch of New Delhi for hacking into women’s Facebook account and uploading her morphed nude photographs.
Such acts are penalized U/s 43 (Acts of unauthorized downloading/copying and destroying or altering data) and Section 66 (Various computer-related offences) of IT Act. Additionally, the charges can be framed U/s 354 A (Sexual Harassment), Section 268 (Public Nuisance), Section 292 A (Obscenity) and Section 501 (Defamation by printing or engraving matter).
REASONS FOR THE GROWTH OF CYBER CRIME AGAINST WOMEN IN INDIA
The ethereal jurisdiction of the internet causes a major threat to society in the form of cybercrime. The main victim of this crime is women and children. In the year 2009, India has 31 million active internet users. Among them, 8 percent are working women net users and 7 % non- working women net users and 37 % usage of all users accessing the internet through cyber café. Usually, owners of cyber café disclosed the personal and important information of the net surfer and use such information for illegal purposes. Although it is very important for the development of any country that one must have acquaintance with technology at the same time, it is also becoming the source of crime against the weaker section of the society. The reason for the increasing crime rate against women can be characterized under two main heads: Sociological and Legal.
Sociological reasons- Because of hesitation, shyness, and fear of defamation of family’s name, most of the cybercrimes remain unreported. Sometimes, women are made to believe that she is responsible for the crime done to her. Most of the women do not go to the police to report the case as they do not want to disturb their family life. Due to these fears, women often fail to report these crimes which give a boost to criminals to carry on with their crime.
Legal reasons- Most of the cybercrimes are covered under the IT Act and are supplemented by the Indian Penal Code. The main object for which IT Act is formed is to enhance e-Commerce and therefore it covers all the crimes related to commerce and finance but at that time safety of net users was not kept in mind by legislators. The majority of the cybercrimes are prosecuted under Section 66 (Hacking), 67 (Publishing or transmitting obscene material in electronic form), 72 (breach of confidentiality). IT Act has not expressly mentioned certain prevalent crimes such as cyber defamation, email spoofing, hacking, and trespassing into one’s privacy. Moreover, within the vastness of the internet, it is very difficult to reach out to criminals. The jurisdiction of cyberspace is very difficult to determine and we have no law which determines the jurisdiction in cybercrimes.
- Cyber laws are not formulated properly. There is no proper mechanism for a complaint. The procedure for registering the complaint is unknown to the women.
- Because of the technical procedure, women are not willing to file the complaint.
- Women are less proficient in using the technology and therefore, they are mostly unaware of privacy policies.
- There is an increase in instances of online abuse. To deal with it no digital police portal exists.
- As most of the cases of cybercrimes go unreported. Hence, the National Crimes Records Bureau (NCRB) does not have any record of cybercrime against women.
- Due to a lack of proper investigation, most of the cybercrime cases go unresolved.
- With the advent and increase in technology, the scope of cyber law is widened. The new acts like trolling etc. should be included in cybercrime.
- Cyber space is very broad. Sometimes, cybercrime crosses borders of the countries and Foreign Service providers are not co-operative enough to deal with it.
Various forms of cybercrime are faced by women in today’s scenario. In India, we do not have any specific law which deals with the emerging cybercrime but we do have IT Act and IPC to deal with a few cybercrimes. Today, every citizen, specifically women wants to use the internet safely and privately. It is the high time that women need not be depending on the law of the country for their safety. Here are certain steps or suggestions with which women can save them from being victimized in cyberspace.
- Indian Penal Code has specific provisions like offences against modesty of women (Section 509 IPC), however, under the IT Act which specifically deals with cybercrime does not even mention a word about ‘women’. However, under the amended IT Act, it does mention child pornography. Hence, it is the need of the hour that similar ideologies must be incorporated under the IT Act.
- It is very important to raise awareness among women. Women must be aware of their rights. They must raise the voice against such cybercrimes. In education level also, women and young girls must be educated regarding cybercrimes and how they can save themselves from these crimes. Every cybercrime needs to be reported.
- It is very important to change passwords frequently. Passwords should be set in such a way that it would be difficult for cybercriminals to decode it. Usually, women keep the password which is very easy to remember, but it is very easy for the hackers to decode it. Hence, tricky passwords must be kept to protect every account, cell phone, e-mails, etc.
- Today, every person has an easy approach to social networking profiles such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, youtube, etc. Women should be technology savvy. It is very important to check the privacy settings of all social media accounts. Women must be careful about what they are posting online. Once it is on the internet, it is permanently there.
- Today, women are frequently using mobile devices, but they are not aware that their mobile devices are also vulnerable to malicious software such as computer viruses. Any application must be downloaded from the trusted source only. Always use a screen lock so that your personal information could not be accessed by anyone.
- Sometimes, young girls and women are not even able to identify that they are victims of cybercrime. Therefore, it is very important to identify such acts. Women and girls usually ignore their abuses on the internet and it encourages the abuser to act further, every social media website provides the option of ‘block’. By blocking the abuser, women can be prevented from any further abuse. Such websites also provide the option to ‘report’. If you find that any act is inappropriate, then you can report it.
- Always keep reliable and secure backups for all your crucial data. Sensitive and confidential files must be stored in a secured location.
- Seminars and workshops must be conducted regularly at the grass-root level to understand all types of cybercrimes and how to report it.
STEPS TO TACKLE CYBERCRIME
- NCRB should assemble all the data related to cyber harassment and other cyber crimes against women and young girls separately so that legislators can frame law concerning this regard.
- It is very important to establish a certain digital police portal where women will be able to report their problems online.
- Complaint mechanisms should be made easy so that women and young girls would be encouraged to file a complaint regarding cybercrimes.
- Uniform and clear guidelines must be framed to fix the liability and accountability of internet service providers. ISP has a complete record of all the data being accessed by anyone surfing on the internet. They should be made to report any individual who is indulging in any suspicious activity.
- It is the need of the hour that stringent laws must be made which cover the cybercrimes relating to the weaker section of the society.
- Along with it, a specialized cybercrime court must be established as our traditional courts are already backlogged with cases.
- Cybercrime is not related to one country. It is an international problem; therefore, at the international level also, efforts must be taken to make a uniform law.
- Our police department also needs to be trained with modern technology so that they will be able to handle all the investigations relating to cybercrime.
Traffic in the virtual world has increased and there are chances of falling prey to cybercrime at large. In such a scenario, women are seen as soft targets. The laws formulated in India are not sufficient enough to deal with it. Our legislatures have to ensure that new technologies do not become a tool for exploitation. At the same time, individuals also have to take precautions while dealing with the internet. They must Opt for recourse if their rights are infringed. However, it is difficult to find a criminal in cybercrimes because the evidence can be lost or we do not have equipped officials to deal with such crimes, but, legislators with the advent of Criminal Law Amendment Bill (2013) tried to tackle this problem. However, several changes are still needed to be taken care of. People are still becoming a victim of cybercrime and especially women.
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