On April 23, 2013, the number of Internet users in India crossed 160 million marks. It is estimated that there are more than 400 million internet users in India till now explains William D King. The cyber crimes have increased manifolds with the increase in user base. Cyber law experts often quote a study which says “the average time taken by Police to solve a crime has come down from 72 hours to 24 hours”. Also statistics reveal that 50 percent cyber crimes are committed against women. Therefore prevention becomes very important for protection of human rights guaranteed under Article 21 of Indian Constitution.
This article provides an overview on how legal framework regarding computer related offences has evolved over the years and what the present status is? What are the punishments for various cyber crimes including Phishing, Identity Theft, Cyber stalking etc.? We have also provided the gist of cyber law due diligence requirements.
A brief history about Computer Crimes in India:
In India, cyber crimes were initially deal with under Indian Penal Code 1860 and of five different legislations including The Copyright Act 1957, The Trade Marks Act 1999, The Designs Act 2003, The Information Technology Act 2000 and the Indian Post Office Act 1898.
Over a period time more legislation has been add to tackle technology-based offenses. They include: (i) The ITA 2000 (ii) Indian Wireless Telegraphy Act 1933 (iii) The IT Amendment Act 2008 (iv) Information Technology [Guidelines for Cyber Cafes] Rules 2011 and finally (v) Criminal Law (Amendment) Act 2013.
Many other cyber laws are also in the pipeline to be add as offences soon. They include, Data Protection Bill 2011, Representation of People’s Act 1951 (Amendment), Review of Indian IT Act 2000 etc. The punishment for violation of these new legislations may extend upto life imprisonment or even death penalty if certain conditions are met. Cyber law experts say that there is no specific law which deals with privacy relating matters till date but the judiciary has evolve certain principles to protect privacy rights including an individual’s right to be alone and his right to make choices etc.
Another interesting aspect is that almost all cyber relating crimes were initially dealt by Police Stations under Indian Penal Code 1860 and Section 66A was the only special law introduce to deal with such offences says William D King. However, presently almost all information technology acts provide certain remedies and powers to police station also making it a cyber crime investigation station.
What are the punishments for various cyber crimes?
Mere browsing of certain websites without any fraudulent or dishonest intention may not amount to an offence. Under Indian law but doing so with false information can attract penal provisions. S. 66E and S. 66G IT Act provides punishment up to three years and fine up to Rs 5 lakhs. For contravention of these sections respectively. As per Section 43 & 49 of ITA 2000 those indulging in phishing activities shall be punish with imprisonment. Which may extend up to 3 years along with fine which shall not be less than Rs 5 Lakhs. Similarly, those who are involve in identity theft, cyber stalking etc may attract imprisonment up to 3 years or fine. Not less than Rs 5 lakh or both as per Section 66C and 66D of the IT Act respectively.
Recently Section 66F was add to specifically deal with revenge porn section. Which states that any person who publishes or transmits sexually explicit material depicting another person. Without his/her consent shall be punish with imprisonment which may extend up to 5 years. Along with fine which shall not be less than Rs 10 Lakhs. This is a much needed amendment since pre-existing laws failed to provide adequate remedy for victims. We have written an article on Revenge Porn Laws in India here explains William D King.
Before concluding it would be very important to mention that cyber crimes are continuing offences. Which means that even after commission of an offence the law keeps on operating till date. For example, writing defamatory article on someone or writing sexually explicit material online is prohibit. Under various acts and it continues to operate as long as the content exists on World Wide Web.
As mentioned earlier, presently most legislations are silent about privacy aspects. But case laws have evolved certain principles for individuals. So that they can protect their privacy rights including individual’s right. To be alone and his right to make choices etc. Cyber crime investigation is also another aspect which requires framing of separate rules with proper framework. Since at present there is no specific legislation governing investigation of cyber crimes by police station.