Cyber space is a world of virtual reality and has become an integral part of our daily lives. It is a world in itself. It is a library of its own kind which can be accessed from anywhere and everywhere. It provides information on almost each and every subject. Information can be accessed by just clicking on the mouse. You can play games, read newspapers, watch movies, read books, chat with friends using social interworking sites, search jobs, search places and much more. It has made our life so easy. You can even buy things online without physically visiting the shop or a market. With the increasing use of advance technology, a new type of crime has emerged which is known as cyber crime.
What is Cyber Crime?
Cybercrime is a criminal activity done using computers and the Internet.
Earlier crimes were committed by the criminals when they were physically present at the place of occurrence but now the cyber criminals can commit crime from anywhere in the world. A large number of cyber crimes are committed these days which are described herein:
- posting of obscene photographs
- child pornography
- online theft of personal data
- sending fake e-mail messages to get personal information,
- misusing personal information
- Inciting religious feeling of hatred
- Online theft,
- fake financial transaction etc.
In a report published by the National Crime records Bureau (NCRB 2011) the incidence of cyber crime has increased by 85.4% in the year 2011 as compared to 2010 in India, whereas the increase in offences pertaining to IPC is by 18.5% as compared to the year 2010. Maharashtra has emerged as a centre of cyber crime with maximum number of incidence of registered crime. It is seen that most of the offenders arrested for cyber crime cases are children who are in the age group of 18 to 30 years only.
Cyber crime and child abuse
Children are the most vulnerable sections of society and are easily exploited in the cyber world due to lack of majority level in them. These days it is seen that even sexual exploitation of the children has started online. The offenders chat online with young children by wrongly stating/representing their age and lure them towards sex. With these latest technologies it has become very easy for the criminal to contact children. Children are easily exploited by online criminals not only because of their age and majority but also as they heavily rely on networking sites for social interaction. Offenders use false identities in chat room to lure victims for personal meetings. This leads to child abuse and exploitation such as trafficking and sex tourism. The child never knows the person with whom he or she is chatting. It is only when they happen to meet each other in person that they see an old man in their 40’s or 50’s with whom they were chatting and realize their mistake. Many children commit suicide when their offensive pictures are posted online. Children often avoid telling their parents about this mistake which causes further more trouble. The victims of online exploitation are forced to live with their abuse for the rest of their lives. It also affects the overall mental development of children. Children often unknowingly or deliberately share personal information without realizing that by just forwarding this message they can be made to suffer penal charges. Facebook photographs, whatsapp messages are uploaded and shared by children without knowing the gravity of things and the impact that will it have on their future.
We all understand the need of protecting children in the real world but it is equally important for all parents and elders to protect their children from online threats. As a parent you can play an important role in protecting your children against Cyber Abuse. It is high time for parents and elders to take an active role in sharing with your kids about the use and abuse of cyber.
To nab an offender in a cyber crime case is not an easy task as the offender can commit this crime from anywhere in the world. These days the offenders are using high end technologies and in order to take hold of them we need the help of cyber cell police station.
Laws to combat cyber crime
To combat cyber crime, The Information Technology Act, 2000 was enacted wherein certain acts has been made punishable. The Indian Penal Code 1860 has also been amended to take into its purview Cyber Crime. The various kinds of offence relating to cyber crime which are punishable are as follows:
- Cyber crimes under the IT Act:
- Tampering with computer source documents-Sec.66
- Hacking with computer systems, data alteration –Sec.66
- Publishing obscene information-Sec. 67
- Un-authorized access to protect system Sec.70
- Breach of Confidentiality and Privacy-Sec.72
- Publishing false digital signature certificates-Sec.73
- Cyber crimes under IPC :
- Sending threatening messages by email-Sec.503 IPC
- Sending defamatory messages by email-Sec.499 IPC
- Forgery of electronic records-Sec.463
- Bogus websites, cyber frauds-Sec.420 IPC
- Email spoofing-Sec.383 IPC
- Web-Jacking-Sec.383 IPC
- E-mail Abuse- Sec.500 IPC
- Cyber Crimes under the Special Act:
- Online sale of Drugs under Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances Act
- Online sale of Arms Act
How to file a cyber crime complaint ?
- You must contact your local police station to register a cyber crime complaint with complete details of the offence and documents i.e. screen shots, e-mail address and details of the suspects.
- You can also complaint to the in charge of cyber cell police station which is almost in every city.
Precautions to be taken on social networking sites
Social networking sites are proved to be a great tool of sharing information but we need to follow some precaution while using them:
- Personal information should be posted to a limited extent
- Use password that are not common for example use alphabets along with numerals
- Don’t post any personal information about your friends and family members
- Install and upgrade an anti-virus software regularly
Tips for parents to prevent children from cyber abuse
- Always be vigilant and see what your children are doing online
- Discuss the risks with your children and tell them ways to be safe online
- Place the computer in your living room rather in child’s bedroom
- Use Parental Control Software. It filters the contents that can be viewed online and can restrict download of applications that you don’t want to be viewed by your children.
- You can restrict usage time of internet i.e. the number of hours internet can be accessed
- Make sure your children do not post personal details like their contact numbers, address, photographs, school address etc.
- Make sure that you know the friends of your children with whom your child is chatting/interacting on web and restrict their chatting with stranger
- Check the number of hours your child uses computer restrict it if they use it for long hours duration
- Help your child feel comfortable talking to you about any incidence of cyber abuse and make them aware about reporting the matter to cyber crime police stations from where the offender can be nabbed.
Beware before it’s too late.
By Shweta Kaushik
Shweta is an Advocate and Consultant and presently working with Centre for Law, Justice & Governance, Mahatma Gandhi State Institue of Public Administration, Punjab at Chandigarh