Cybercrime is a term for any illegal activity that uses a computer as its primary means of commission. It is an offence that is committed against individuals or groups of individuals with a criminal motive to intentionally harm the reputation of the victim or cause physical or mental harm to the victim directly or indirectly, using modern telecommunication networks such as Internet. Women especially young girls inexperienced in cyber world, who have been newly introduced to the internet and fail to understand the vices of internet, and hence are most susceptible to falling into the bait of cyber criminals & bullies, Cybercrimes and cyber bullying is of various types, some are:
A) Cyber Harassment: Cyber Harassment is characteristic repetitive behavior intended to disturb or up rest a person though use of internet. A particular class of harassment which is sexual in nature is known as sexual harassment, among several other things it majorly includes persistent and unwanted sexual advancement. Under Indian law sexual harassment has newly been defined under the Criminal Law Amendment (Bill) 2013 as physical contact and advances involving unwelcome and explicit sexual overtures; or
(i) a demand or request for sexual favors; or
(ii) making sexually coloured remarks; or
(iii) forcibly showing pornography; or
(iv) any other unwelcome physical, verbal or non-verbal conduct of sexual nature.
67 A, 67 B of the IT act provide sexual harassment in respect of offences of publishing or transmitting of material containing sexually explicit act and child pornography in electronic form, in the cyber world harassment including blackmailing, threatening, bullying, and even cheating is often done through e-mailing. Email harassment is very similar to harassing through letters; however, it is greatly difficult to crackdown upon the culprits of crime in cyber harassment as often people create fake identities on internet for such purposes.
B) Cyber stalking: Cyber Stalking basically is behavior wherein an individual willfully and repeatedly engages in a knowing course of harassing conduct directed at another person which reasonably and seriously alarms, torments, or terrorizes that person. This is one of the most talked about internet crimes in the modern world. Cyber stalking involves following a person’s movements across the Internet by posting messages (sometimes threatening) on the bulletin boards frequented by the victim, entering the chat-rooms frequented by the victim, constantly bombarding the victim with emails etc. Cyber Stalking usually occurs with women, who are stalked by men, or children who are stalked by adult predators or pedophiles. Cyber stalkers target and harass their victims via websites, chat rooms, discussion forums, open publishing websites and email.
The motivation of stalkers may be considered less than four reasons,
(i) sexual harassment,
(ii) obsession for love, (iii) revenge and hate,
(iv) ego and power trips.
C) Cyber pornography: It refers to portrayal of sexual material on the web. This is the another threat to the female netizens as they never know which actions of theirs are being recorded and would later end up on internet. The DPS MMS scandal is a very famous case of this where an MMS clip of a school girl in compromising situation was made and distributed amongst various internet networks. In another incident, at Mumbai, a Swiss couple gathered slum children and then forced them to appear for obscene photographs, which they took and then uploaded those
photographs to websites specially designed for pedophiles. The Mumbai police arrested the couples for pornography. Unlike other crimes like Cyber Stalking, Cyber Defamation, Morphing, Email Spoofing, Cyber Pornography is considered an exceptional case which has been covered by the IT Act 2000 to a certain extent by Section 67 of the IT Act 2000. 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).
D) Cyber defamation: Cyber tort including libel and defamation is another common crime
against women in the net. This occurs when defamation takes place with the help of
computers and or the Internet. The very first instance of cyber defamation in India was recorded in the case of SMC Pneumatics (India) Pvt. Ltd. v. Jogesh Kwatra-Jogesh Kwatra.
cyber defamation was reported when a company’s employee (defendant) started sending derogatory, defamatory and obscene e-mails about its Managing Director. The e-mails were anonymous and frequent, and were sent to many of their business associates to tarnish the image and goodwill of the plaintiff company. The plaintiff was able to identify the defendant with the help of a private computer expert and moved the Delhi High Court. The court granted an ad-interim injunction and restrained the employee from sending, publishing and transmitting e-mails, which are defamatory or derogatory to the plaintiffs.
Another famous case involving a women was The State of Tamil Nadu Vs Suhas Katti -The case is related to posting of obscene, defamatory and annoying message about a divorcee woman in the yahoo message group. E-Mails were also forwarded to the victim for information by the accused through a false e-mail account opened by him in the name of the victim. The posting of the message resulted in annoying phone calls to the lady in the belief that she was soliciting.
E) Morphing: Morphing is editing the original picture so as to make it look completely or largely different. Often criminally minded elements of the cyber world download pictures of girls from websites such as Facebook and then morph it with another picture in compromising situation so as to represent that those women were indulging in such acts. Often the next step after this is to blackmail those women through the threat of releasing the morphed images and diminishing the status of those women in society.
F) Email Spoofing E-mail spoofing is a term used to describe fraudulent email activity in which the sender address and other parts of the email header are altered to appear as though the email originated from a different source; it is done by properties of the email, such as the From, Return-Path and Reply-To fields, ill-intentioned users can make the email appear to be from someone other than the actual sender. This method is often used by cyber criminals to extract personal information and private images from unsuspecting women, these images etc. are then used to blackmail those women. The most popular case of cyber spoofing is Gujrat Ambuja’s Executive Case, in this case the perpetrator pretended to be a girl for cheating and blackmailing the Abu Dhabi based NRI.
Reasons for the Growth of Cyber Crime against Women in India–
The transcendental jurisdiction of Internet causes the major threat to the society in the form of cybercrime. The main victim of this transgression can be considered women and children. Studies shows that we have 52 million active internet users in India which reached at 71 million in the year 2009. Among them working women net users are 8% and 7% nonworking women in the year 2009 and 37% usage of all users accessing internet through cyber café. It is very common occurrence that the essential data of the internet surfer is being released effortlessly by the owners of cyber café and then it is used for illegitimate dedications. Though acquaintance with technology is constructive facet that can be considered vital for the progress of any country but at the same time it is becoming the foundation to upsurge the offense rate with technology against the weaker sector of the society. Statistics also show that cyber awareness amongst people in India in really low. The reasons for the growth of cybercrime rate against women can be categorized into two folds: legal and sociological reasons.
A) Legal Reasons–
The objective of the IT Act is crystal clear from its preamble which confirms that it was formed largely for improving e-commerce hence it covers commercial or economic crimes i.e. hacking, fraud, and breach of confidentiality etc. but the drafters were unacquainted with the protection of net users. As we deliberated above that majority of cybercrimes are being prosecuted under Section 66 (Hacking), 67(publishing or transmitting obscene material in electronic form), 72(breach of confidentiality). The most of the cybercrimes other than ecommerce related crime are being dealt with these three sections. Cyber defamation, cyber defamation, email spoofing, cybersex, hacking and trespassing into one’s privacy is domain is very common now days but IT Act is not expressly mentioning them under specific Sections or provisions. Whereas IPC, Criminal Procedure Code and Indian Constitution give special protection to women and children for instance modesty of women is protected under Section 509 and rape, forceful marriage, kidnapping and abortion against the will of the woman are offences and prosecuted under IPC. Indian constitution guarantees equal right to live, education, health, food and work to women, however until recently there were no specific penal provisions protecting women specifically against internet crimes. Ever since the 2012 Delhi Gang Rape case (Nirbhaya Case) there has been a huge outcry over bringing out new reforms and penal provisions so as to protect women against the criminally minded. The 2013 Criminal Law Amendment Ordinance contains several additions to the Indian Penal Code, such as to sections 354, 354 A, 354 B, 354 C & 354 D, with the assistance of these sections now the issues of MMS scandals, pornography, morphing, defamation can be dealt in proper manner.
As it has been discussed earlier that transcendental nature of Internet is one of the main reasons for the growth of cybercrime so whereas Section 75 of the IT Act deals with the offences or contravention committed outside India but it is not talking about the jurisdiction of the crimes committed in the cyberspace specially the question of place for reporting the case arises when the crime is committed in one place affected at another place and then reported at another place. Although in the most of the cases, for the matter of territorial jurisdiction Criminal Procedure Code is being followed.
Most of the cybercrimes remain unreported due to the hesitancy and shyness of the victim and her fear of defamation of family’s name. Many times she considers that she herself is accountable for the crime done to her. The women are more vulnerable to the danger of cybercrime as the perpetrator’s identity remains anonymous and he may constantly threaten and blackmail the victim with different names and identities. Women fear that reporting the crime might make their family life difficult for them, they also question whether or not they will get the support of their family and friends and what the impression of society will be on knowing about them. Due to these fears women often fail to report the crimes, causing the spirits of culprits to get even higher.
A) The increasing number of crimes against women are a huge concern for any state however, cybercrimes make it even more challenging as criminals have the opportunity to create fake identities and then after indulge in illegal activities. To counter this government should make stricter laws to apply on the Internet Service Providers(ISP), as they alone have the complete record of all the data being accessed by anyone surfing on net. ISPs should be made to report any suspicious activities that any individual is indulging into, this will help to curb crimes in nascent stage.
B) Legislation needs to make stricter regulation for cyber cafes, who should keep a record of their customers who utilized their internet services, often people go to cyber cafes to indulge in criminal activities so as their own IP addresses are not revealed in any future investigation. This is another manner to mask identity.
C) Email spoofing is possible because of Simple Mail Transfer Protocol (SMTP), the main protocol used in sending email, does not allow an authentication mechanism. Although an SMTP service extension allows an SMTP client to negotiate a security level with a mail server, however this precaution is not always taken. So women should take precaution and always add the SMTP service extension with the SMTP client.
The chief problem of cybercrime lies in the modus operandi and the persistence of the cybercriminal. The police, judiciary and the investigative agencies need to stay abreast with the latest developments in web-based applications so that they can quickly identify the actual perpetrator. It is the job of the legal system and regulatory agencies to keep pace with the Technological developments and ensure that newer technologies do not become tools of exploitation and harassment. Governments can take legislative measures that ensure human rights; especially women’s rights are protected online just as they are physical spaces. Legislation should not just protect users; however, it should also educate and inform all groups on how to exercise their communication rights. At the same time, Individuals must become savvy both online and offline; know how to take precautionary measures in cyberspace and how to seek recourse if their rights are violated. Though there used to be several difficulties in dealing with cybercrimes such as loss of evidence and lack of cyber army but with the Criminal law Amendment Bill (2013) most of these problems have been taken care. However, several changes are still needed such as cyber savvy judges.
Cybercrimes against women are still taken lightly in India, mostly because in general the respect towards women in our modern society is on a decrease also a lot of people are unable to come to terms with the fact that even posting images of someone online in a crime. Cybercrimes such as morphing, e-mail spoofing do-not have a moral backing in society and hence are taken lightly. This brings us to the most important part where social advancement is needed, people need to recognize the rights of others and realize what constitutes a crime. They must learn not to interfere with the private lives of others, respect towards women in society needs to increase. All this can only be done if young kinds are taught from a young age to respect women. Hence, to counter cybercrime against women in India, not only stricter penal reforms are needed but also a change in education system is a huge requirement. Such change cannot come from within a single block of society but people, government and NGOs etc. need to work together to bring forth such changes.
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