Laws to safeguard women against Cybercrimes in India

Cybercrime means any criminal or other offense that is facilitated by or involves the use of electronic communications or information systems, including any device or the Internet or both or more of them.

The most blatant cybercrime that the women are facing in India and challenges in the investigative process. Few of them have been discussed below:

  • Cyber Stalking

If a man pulls a women dupatta, he can be dragged to the police station for attempting to disrobe U/s 354(b) of IPC”

Stalking means to “pursue stealthily” and cyberstalking is a behavior in which an individual, group of individuals, or organization uses information and communications technology to harass one or more individuals. Cyberstalking is an online threat and there is no direct relationship between the victim and cyberstalker. It is believed that Over 75% of the victims are female. The motives behind are sexual harassment, for the obsession for love, revenge, and hate, and forego and power trips. This is necessary to increase the punishment to deter crime. U/S 354 D IPC stalking is a criminal offense punishable with imprisonment up to 3 years and penalty. 

  • Cyber Pornography

Rather than shaming the women for having her pictures splashed over revenge porn websites; people should extend their support and shame the criminal instead”

This would include pornographic websites; pornographic magazines produced using computers Cyber Pornography is considered an exceptional case that has been covered by the IT Act 2000 to ascertain extent by Section 67 of the IT Act 2000. The punishment is up to five years and fine. Along with IT Act, the perpetrator can be punished under various Sections of IPC, Section 290 for committing public nuisance, section 292 for sale of obscene books, etc and section 292A for printing or publishing grossly indecent or scurrilous matter or matter intended to blackmail, section 293 for sale, etc of obscene objects to young persons and then section 294 for doing or composing, writing, etc of obscene songs and finally under section 509 for outraging the modesty of women.

  • Cyber Bullying

“A girl sending you request on Facebook does not mean she is interested in you”

Cyberbullying is intimidation, threat, or harassment using an electronic form of contact by the use of computers, mobiles, and the internet. It is punishable under Section 506 of the IPC. It provides for imprisonment for a term which may extend to two years, a fine or both. If the threat is to cause death or grievous hurt, it can lead to imprisonment for a term which may extend to seven years. In an Ipsos survey in 2014, India topped the list of 254 countries for cyberbullying. Blue whale challenges and other viral challenges such as cinnamon are the most brutal form of bullying.

  •  Cyber sexual defamation

Defamation is another common crime against women in the net. This occurs when defamation takes place with the help of computers and the Internet. E.g. someone publishes defamatory matter about someone on a website or sends e-mails containing defamatory matters to others. With the invention of the internet the life of a common man has changed a lot. U/S/499 IPC imprisonment up to 2 years and fine is imposed in case of defamation.

  • Harassment via email

Harassment includes blackmailing, threatening, bullying, and even cheating via email. Email spoofing is a tactic used in phishing and spam campaigns because people are more likely to open an email when they think it has been sent by a legitimate source. U/S 67 A punishment up to 5 years is imposed for harassment via email.

  • Trolling

“If a girl received messages like ‘Hi, Hello, How Are You?’ from an unknown number. If she took screenshots of the messages the person is liable for harassment”

Trolls spread conflict on the Internet, criminal starts quarreling or upsetting victim by posting inflammatory or off-topic messages in an online community (such as a newsgroup, forum, chat room, or blog) with the intention to provoke victims into an emotional, upsetting response). Trolls are professional abusers who, by creating and using fake ids on social media, create a cold war atmosphere in the cyberspace and are not even easy to trace.

Where to lodge a complaint?​

A person aggrieved of the offense of cyber defamation can make a complaint to the Cyber Crime Investigation Cell. Cyber Crime Investigation Cells deal with offenses related to the computer, computer network, compute resources, computer systems, computer devices, and the Internet. It also has the power to look into other high-tech crimes. In addition, provisions have now been made for the filing of ‘E-FIR’ in most of the states.

Key points on how to protect yourself:​

  • Passwords Should Not Be Given To Others
  • Personal Information Should Not Be Disclosed.
  • Avoid Meeting Online People Alone.
  • WebCam Should Be Used With Care.
  • Agreement Terms Should Be Read.
  • Avoid Free Downloading Sites as their files may contain Trojans. 

Measures by Govt. of India​

The Information Technology Act, 2000, together with the Indian Penal Code have adequate provisions to deal with prevailing Cyber Crimes. It provides punishment in the form of imprisonment ranging from two years to life imprisonment and fine / penalty depending on the type of Cyber Crime. However, the Government has taken a number of legal, technical, and administrative measures to prevent incidents of cybercrimes. These inter alia, include:

  • Cyber Police Stations and Cyber Crime Cells have been set up in each State for reporting and investigation of Cyber Crime cases.
  • Ministry of Electronics & Information Technology (MeitY) has set up Cyber Forensics Training Labs in north-eastern States and cities such as Mumbai, Pune, Kolkata, and Bangalore to train State police officials and judiciary in cybercrime detection and collection, preservation and seizing of electronic evidence and dealing with cybercrime.
  • Various steps have been taken by the Ministry of Home Affairs, Meity, and State Government to modernize the setup and equip police personnel with knowledge and skills for prevention and control of cybercrime through various national and State Police academies/judicial academies and other institutes.
  • Ministry of Electronics & Information Technology has issued an advisory on the functioning of Matrimonial website on 6th June 2016 under Information Technology Act, 2000 and Rules made thereunder directing the matrimonial websites to adopt safeguards to ensure that people using these websites are not deceived through the means of fake profiles or misuse/wrong information posted on the website.
  • The Government has circulated Computer Security Policy and Guidelines to all the Ministries/Departments on taking steps to prevent, detect, and mitigate cyber-attacks.
  • A portal, namely www.cybercrime.gov.in has been developed by the Ministry of Home Affairs to allow the public to report cybercrime complaints.

Written By: Harshita C Jadhav

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