• Cyber Crime

  • Cyber law is a term used to describe the legal issues related to use of communications technology, particularly "cyberspace", i.e. the Internet. It is a distinct field of law in the way that it is an intersection of many legal fields, including intellectual property, privacy, freedom of expression, and jurisdiction.

    The Information Technology Act, 2000 [IT Act] deals with the following cyber issues & law: data privacy, Information Security, cyber café, digital signature technology, reasonable security practices to be followed by corporate, role of intermediaries, role of Indian Computer Emergency Response Team, child pornography, cyber terrorism, legal Recognition of Electronic Documents, legal Recognition of Digital Signatures, Offenses and Contraventions and Justice Dispensation Systems for cyber crimes. The IT Act however does not contain adequate provision viz-a-viz jurisdiction of the Court and the Police.

    Cyber crime is geography-agnostic, border less, territory-free and sans all jurisdiction and frontiers and happens in ‘cloud’ or the ‘space’. All concerned players in the field- Aggrieved Complainant Police, Courts, etc virtually don’t as to who commands the jurisdiction, there being no adequate law in force. Jurisdiction is still a major issue which is not satisfactorily addressed in the ITA or ITAA. Jurisdiction has been mentioned in Sections 46, 48, 57 and 61 in the context of adjudication process and the appellate procedure connected with and again in Section 80 and as part of the police officers’ powers to enter, search a public place for a cyber crime etc. In the context of electronic record, Section 13 (3) and (4) discuss the place of dispatch and receipt of electronic record. However some fundamental issues like if the mail of someone is hacked and the accused is a resident of a city in some other state, then after coming to know of the offence being committed in a different city, which police station does he go to? If he is an employee of a Multi National Company with branches throughout the world and in many metros in India and is often on tour in India and he suspects another individual say an employee of the same firm in his branch or headquarters office and informs the police that evidence could lie in the suspect’s computer system itself, where does he go to file he complaint. Often, the investigators do not accept such complaints on the grounds of jurisdiction and there are occasions that the judicial officers too have hesitated to deal with such cases.

    Cyber Crime is not formally defined anywhere, be it Information Technology Act, 2000 or any other Act and statute. Simply put, cyber crime is unlawful acts wherein the computer is either a tool or a target or both. Cyber crimes can involve criminal activities that are traditional in nature, such as theft, fraud, forgery, defamation and mischief, all of which are subject to the Indian Penal Code, 1860.  We can categorize Cyber crimes in two ways:- (i) The computer as a Target, (ii) The computer as a weapon. To target or attack a computer, the criminals use other computers. This category of crime includes hacking, virus/worm attacks, DOS attack, etc. The category of crimes where the computer is used as a weapon includes Cyber Terrorism, IPR violations, Credit card frauds, EFT frauds, pornography etc. Commission of cyber crime may be divided into three basic groups:

    • By Or Against An Individual/ Individual Property- Harassment via Emails; Cyber Stalking/ squating; Dissemination of obscene material; Defamation; Hacking/Cracking; Indecent Exposure; Computer/ Cyber Vandalism; Transmittiming a Virus; Network Trespassing; Unauthorized Control over Computer System; Hacking/Cracking; intellectual property crimes, cyber trespass: internet time thefts
    • Against An Organisation- Hacking & Cracking; Possession of unauthorised Information; Cyber- Terrorism against Government Organisation; Distribution of Pirated Software Etc.
    • Against Society at Large- Pornography; Polluting the youth through indecent exposure; Trafficking, online gambling, financial crimes, forgery,  

    Cyber offences includes the following: Computer Crimes; Cyber bullying; Online Scams; Phishing Scams; Selling Fakes Online- Work at home, Fake Apartment Rentals, Unexpected Prizes, Etc., Catfish Scams; Assault By Threat; Cyber Terrorism; Child Pornography; Cyber Trafficking; Cyber Warfare; Cyber-Stalking; Cyber Squatting; Cyber Vandalism; Cyber Trespass; Cheating, Forgery & Fraud; Child Pornography; Cracking; Carding; Distribution Of Pirated Software; Dissemination Of Obscene Material; Defamation; E-Mail Spoofing; Financial Crimes; Harassment Via E-Mails; Hacking Computer System; Intellectual Property Crimes; Internet Time Thefts; Online Gambling; Possession Of Unauthorized Information; SMS Spoofing; Transmitting Virus; Worm Attack; Etc.   

    Computer Crimes referes to and includes the following: Improperly accessing a computer, system, or network; Modifying, damaging, using, disclosing, copying, or taking programs or data; Introducing a virus or other contaminant into a computer system; Using a computer in a scheme to defraud; Interfering with someone else's computer access or use; Using encryption in aid of a crime; Falsifying e-mail source information; and Stealing an information service from a provider.

    Cyber bullying refers to and includes the use of Internet and/or mobile technology to harass, intimidate, or cause harm to another. It has moved from the schoolyard to social networking sites such as Facebook, emails, and mobile text messages.  

    Phishing,: In a phishing scheme, the scammer attempts to obtain private information from a victim by posing as a reputable entity in an email or other electronic communication. For example, the scammer may send you an email posing as a bank representative and claiming that your account requires verification. The email would then direct you to a fake banking site where you would be asked to provide sensitive information like your account number, username, password, and more. With the information, the scammer would then have access to your account.

    Work at Home: You’ve probably seen ads online for jobs that seem too good to be true. Unfortunately, most of them are. Many work-at-home schemes require you to purchase expensive materials or pay upfront fees without providing you with the means to earn a living. Others are Ponzi schemes, requiring you to recruit others in exchange for a cut of the fees.

    Catfish Scams: A “catfish” is someone who creates a fake social media account in order to pursue an online romance. Sometimes, catfish convince their victims to send money or gifts, or to pay for their travel or other expenses.

    Unexpected Prizes: The Internet is littered with pop-up ads telling you that you’ve won an iPod or qualified for a free vacation. These “contests” often require you to pay certain fees or shipping costs in order to receive your “prize.” Of course, most of the time there is no prize and the perpetrators pocket the fees.

    As they say, prevention is better than cure, one is expected to observe following reasonable security practices; site certification, security initiatives, awareness trainings, conformance to standards, adherence to policies like password policy, access control, email policy etc, periodic monitoring and review. Following measures and precautions are a must:  

    • Identification of exposures through education
    • One should avoid disclosing any personal information to strangers via e-mail or while chatting.
    • One must avoid sending any photograph to strangers by online as misusing of photograph incidents increasing day by day.
    • An updated Anti-virus software to guard against virus attacks should be used by all the netizens and should also keep back up volumes so that one may not suffer data loss in case of virus contamination.
    • A person should never send his credit card number to any site that is not secured, to guard against frauds.
    • It is always the parents who have to keep a watch on the sites that your children are accessing, to prevent any kind of harassment or depravation in children.
    • Web site owners should watch traffic and check any irregularity on the site. It is the responsibility of the web site owners to adopt some policy for preventing cyber crimes as number of internet users are growing day by day.
    • Web servers running public sites must be physically separately protected from internal corporate network.
    • It is better to use a security programmes by the body corporate to control information on sites.

    Need of Cyber Law: information technology has spread throughout the world. The computer is used in each and every sector wherein cyberspace provides equal opportunities to all for economic growth and human development. As the user of cyberspace grows increasingly diverse and the range of online interaction expands, there is expansion in the cyber crimes also, namely, breach of online contracts, perpetration of online torts and crimes etc. Due to these consequences there is a need to adopt a strict law by the cyber space authority to regulate criminal activities relating to cyber and to provide better administration of justice to the victim of cyber crime. Cyber law should be made stricter in the case of cyber terrorism and hackers.

    We, at Hello Counsel,  have expertise in complete range of matters related to Information Technology sector, including technology and strategic consulting services. We deal in software protection & licencing, data protection, domain names dispute resolution, technology transfer and technical assistance agreements, credit card frauds etc. We advise our clients on cyber laws, Indian Information Technology laws, data protection, IP protection, e-commerce, etc.

    We advise our clients on data theft- protection against data theft and the best possible methods to resolve it. Our lawyers are well versed with the cyber laws, information technology laws, and data protection laws in India. We deal in software licencing, development and support and website development agreements. We assist our clients in drafting agreements such as shrink wrap agreements, click wrap agreements software licence and maintenance agreements, hardware maintenance and system supply agreements, access and beta test agreements, service provide agreements, interconnect agreements, broadcasting, satellite and digital terrestrial agreements, Conditional Access Systems (CAS) agreements, server co-location space agreements and other related commercial agreements. We also assist the IT companies in protecting their intellectual property and information technology-related compliance and taxation issues.

    We represent our clients in the tribunals, High Courts and the Supreme Court in matters of infringement of intellectual property rights and disputes relating to contracts and domain names. We have significant experience in advising our clients in establishing strategic alliances between suppliers and buyers in India and abroad. We also deal in cyber law and handle cases like internet fraud, hacking, privacy and security related issues etc.

    Concerned Ministry

    Courts & Fora

    Organisations Related To Computer Crime in India & Across Globe:

    • Centre for Democracy and Technology (CDT);
    • CERT Program;
    • Computer Crime Research Centre;
    • Cyber Tribunal [Headed by the IT Secretary in any State];
    • Cyber Appellate Tribunal.- Global Fora: Australian High Tech Crime Centre (AHTCC);  
    • Forum of Incidence Response and Security Teams;
    • G8 and the G8's Subgroup on High-Tech Crime;
    • High Technology Crime Investigation Association (HTCIA);
    • Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3);
    • Internet Fraud Watch (IFW);
    • IT Security and Crime Prevention - Interpol.

    Legislations Governing Cyber Crime & IT Act

    Judgments: Cyber Crime & IT Law

    • DELFI AS v. ESTONIA, Application no. 64569/09, Judgment Dated: 16.06.2015, Grand Chamber Of The European Court Of Human Rights [ECHR] [17 Judge Bench PDF Judgment, With Two Judges Dissenting]- Findings, DELFI AS, a news portal held liable for comments made on its website.- In India, this Case casts bearing on Sec 79 of the Information Technology Act, 2000, which offers protection for intermediaries in a particular facts & circumstances.- The Parallel of this Case can be traced down to the Case, namely, "Shreya Singhal", where Sec 66A of the Act was quashed, and constitutional validity of Sec 79 and 79A was upheld.  
    • Manik Taneja Versus State of Karnatka, Criminal Appeal No. 141/2015, Judgment Dated: 20/01/2015, Bench: V. Gopala Gowda, J. & R. Banumathi J., Supreme Court Of India, Citation: 2015(1) JT 237: 2015(1) SCALE 484: 2015(1) SLT 657: 2015 CrLJ 1483: 2015(1) Crimes 221(SC): 2015(2) JCC 926: 2015(7) SCC 423: 2015(2) Supreme 121 [Full PDF Judgment]- Penal Code, 1860- Sections 353 & 506- Quashing of FIR- Lack of ingredients of alleged offences in complaint, justified- FIR against appellants under Sections 353 and 506 IPC for posting of a comment on Traffic Police Facebook page, accusing Inspector, Traffic Police Station, of his misbehaviour and also forwarded an email complaining about harassment meted out to them at hands of Respondent Police Inspector- Petition for quashing of said FIR- Held, page created by traffic police on Facebook was a forum for public to put forth their grievances- Appellants might have posted comment online under bona fide belief that it was within permissible limits- Even going by uncontroverted allegations in FIR, none of ingredients of alleged offences are satisfied- It would be unjust to allow process of court to be continued against appellants and consequently the order of High Court liable to be set aside- Petition allowed and FIR registered against appellants quashed- Criminal Procedure Code, 1973- Section 482- Quashing of FIR- Lack of ingredients of alleged offences, effect of- Cyber Laws- Online complaint (Para 12, 14, 15, 16 & 17)- HELD: Essential ingredients of the offence under Section 353 IPC are that the person accused of the offence should have assaulted the public servant or used criminal force with the intention to prevent or deter the public servant from discharging his duty as such public servant. By perusing the materials available on record, it appears that no force was used by the appellants to commit such an offence. There is absolutely nothing on record to show that the appellants either assaulted the respondents or used criminal force to prevent the second respondent from discharging his official duty. Taking the uncontroverted allegations, in our view, that the ingredients of the offence under Section 353 IPC are not made out (Para 12)- A reading of the definition of "Criminal intimidation" would indicate that there must be an act of threatening to another person, of causing an injury to the person, reputation, or property of the person threatened, or to the person in whom the threatened person is interested and the threat must be with the intent to cause alarm to the person threatened or it must be to do any act which he is not legally bound to do or omit to do an act which he is legally entitled to do (Para 14)- Allegation is that the appellants have abused the complainant and obstructed the second respondent from discharging his public duties and spoiled the integrity of the second respondent. It is the intention of the accused that has to be considered in deciding as to whether what he has stated comes within the meaning of "Criminal intimidation". The threat must be with intention to cause alarm to the complainant to cause that person to do or omit to do any work. Mere expression of any words without any intention to cause alarm would not be sufficient to bring in the application of this section. But material has to be placed on record to show that the intention is to cause alarm to the complainant. From the facts and circumstances of the case, it appears that there was no intention on the part of the appellants to cause alarm in the minds of the second respondent causing obstruction in discharge of his duty. As far as the comments posted on the Facebook are concerned, it appears that it is a public forum meant for helping the public and the act of appellants posting a comment on the Facebook may not attract ingredients of criminal intimidation in Section 503 IPC (Para 15).
    • Shreya Singhal Vs. Union of India, Writ Petition (Criminal) No. 167 of 2012, Order Dated: 24.03.2015, Bench: J Chelameswar & R F Nariman, JJ, Supreme Court Of India [Full PDF Judgment]- Information Technology Act of 2000- Section-66A- Fundamental right of Free Speech & Expression- Guaranteed under Article- 19(1)(a) of the Constitution of India, 1950- Rights under Articles 14 and 21 of the Constitution of India, 1950- Petitions filed before the Hon’ble Supreme Court of India- Under  Article  32  of  the Constitution of India- Impugning therein that the Section 66A was violative of the Article 19(1)(a) of  the Constitution, and was thus unconstitutional & and void-  Discussed in detail as to what  is  the  content  of  the expression of "freedom of speech and expression"- What is - defamation,  incitement to an offence, decency or morality- Which information is  directed  to  incite  or produce  imminent lawlessness and which one constitutes credible threats of violence- Which information stirs the public to anger, invites  violent  disputes, brings about condition of violent unrest and disturbances- Which information advocates  or  teaches  the  duty,   necessity   or proprietary of violence as a means of  accomplishing  political,  social  or religious reform and/or justifies commissioning  of  violent  acts  with  an intent to exemplify glorify such  violent  means  to  accomplish  political, social, economical or religious reforms- Which information contains fighting or abusive material & which one promotes hate speech,  which one propagates hatred towards individual or a groups,  on  the basis of race, religion, religion, casteism, ethnicity- Which information is intended  to  show  the  supremacy  of  one  particular religion/race/caste   by   making   disparaging,   abusive   and/or   highly inflammatory remarks against religion/race/caste.- Information depicting religious deities, holy persons,  holy  symbols,  holy books which are created to insult or to show contempt or lack  of  reverence for such religious deities,  holy  persons,  holy  symbols,  holy  books  or towards something which is considered sacred or inviolable- Satirical or iconoclastic cartoon  and  caricature  which  fails  the test laid down in Hustler Magazine, Inc. v. Falwell 485 U.S. 46 (1988)- Information which glorifies terrorism and use of drugs- Information which infringes right of privacy of the others and  includes acts of cyber bullying, harassment or stalking- Information which is obscene and has the tendency to arouse feeling  or revealing an overt sexual desire and should be suggestive  of  deprave  mind and designed to excite sexual passion in persons who are likely to see it.- Procedural Unreasonableness- A District Court Judge’s observations in some other case referred to, which read as follows: It is  no exaggeration to conclude that the  Internet  has  achieved,  and continues to achieve, the most  participatory  marketplace  of  mass  speech that this country- and indeed the world - as yet seen.- Cases Referred to & Relied upon: Romesh Thappar  Vs.  State  of Madras, [1950] S.C.R. 594 at 602; Sakal Papers  (P) Ltd. & Ors. Vs. Union of India, [1962] 3 S.C.R. 842 at  866;  Kameshwar Prasad & Ors. v. The  State  of Bihar & Anr., 1962 Supp. (3) S.C.R. 369, Bennett Coleman & Co. & Ors. Vs. Union of India & Ors., [1973] 2 S.C.R. 757  at  829,; S. Khushboo Vs. Kanniamal & Anr., (2010)  5  SCC  600; Whitney  Vs. California, 71 L. Ed. 1095; Chaplinsky Vs. New  Hampshire,  86 L. Ed. 1031;   Cantwell Vs. Connecticut, 310  U.S. 296, 309, 310, 60 S.Ct. 900, 906, 84  L. Ed. 1213,  128  A.L.R.  1352."   Indian Express Newspapers (Bombay) Private Limited &  Ors.  Vs. Union of India & Ors., (1985) 2 SCR 287;  The  Superintendent, Central Prison, Fatehgarh Vs. Ram Manohar Lohia, [1960] 2  S.C.R.  821; Chintaman Rao Vs. The  State  of  Madhya  Pradesh,  [1950] S.C.R. 759; State of Madras v. V.G. Row, [1952] S.C.R. 597;  Mohd. Faruk v. State of Madhya Pradesh & Ors., [1970]  1 S.C.R. 156; Dr.  N.  B.  Khare  v.  State  of  Delhi,  [1950]  S.C.R.  519;  Secretary  Ministry  of Information & Broadcasting, Government of India v.  Cricket  Association  of Bengal, (1995) 2 SCC 161 in  para  37;  Brij Bhushan & Anr. v. State  of  Delhi,  [1950]  S.C.R. 605; Dr. Ram Manohar  Lohia  Vs.  State  of Bihar & Ors., [1966] 1 S.C.R. 709; Arun Ghosh Vs. State of  West  Bengal,  [1970]  3  S.C.R.  288;  Schenck  Vs.  United States, 63 L. Ed. 470; Gompers v. Buck's Stove & Range Co.,  221  U.  S.  418, 439, 31 Sup. Ct. 492, 55 L. ed. 797, 34 L. R. A. (N. S.) 874. Abrams  v.  Unites  States  250  U.S.  616 (1919); Terminiello v. City of Chicago 93 L. Ed. 1131 (1949) at page 1134-1135;   Brandenburg  v. Ohio 23 L. Ed. 2d 430 (1969) at 434-435 & 436; Virginia v. Black 155 L.  Ed. 2d 535 (2003) at page 551, 552 and 553[4]; S. Rangarajan v.  P.  Jagjivan & Ors., (1989) 2 SCC 574; State of Bihar v. Shailabala Devi,  [1952]  S.C.R.  654; Ramji Lal Modi v. The State of U.P.,  [1957]  S.C.R.  860  at  page 867,  Kedar Nath Singh  v. State of Bihar, 1962 Supp. (2) S.C.R. 769, Dr.  Ramesh  Yeshwant  Prabhoo  v.  Prabhakar Kashinath Kunte &  Ors.,  1996  (1)  SCC   130; Ranjit Udeshi v. State of Maharashtra  [1965]  1  S.C.R. 65; Director  General,  Directorate General of Doordarshan  v. Anand Patwardhan, 2006 (8) SCC  433; Aveek  Sarkar  v.  State  of  West Bengal, 2014 (4) SCC 257;  Director of Public Prosecutions v. Collins - (2006) 1 WLR 2223 @ para 9  and 21; Connolly v. Director of Public Prosecutions  reported  in  [2008]  1  W.L.R. 276/2007 [1] All ER 1012, House  of  Lords  Select  Committee  1st  Report  of  Session  2014-2015  on Communications titled as "Social Media And Criminal Offences" @  pg  260  of compilation of judgments Vol I Part B; Brandenburg v. Ohio 395 U.S. 444 (1969); Terminiello v. Chicago 337 US 1 (1949); Whitney vs. California 274 US 357]; Chaplinsky v. New Hampshire, 315 U.S. 568 (1942); City of Chicago v. Morales et al, 527 U.S.  41  (1999); United States v. Reese 92 U.S. 214 (1875) at 221; Grayned v. City of  Rockford,  33  L.Ed.  2d.  222; State  of  Madhya  Pradesh  v. Baldeo Prasad, [1961] 1 S.C.R. 970; K.A.  Abbas  v.  The  Union  of  India  & Another, [1971] 2 S.C.R. 446; State of Madhya  Pradesh  and  Anr. v. Baldeo Prasad, 1961 (1) SCR 970; Harakchand Ratanchand Banthia & Ors. v. Union  of  India & Ors., 1969 (2) SCC 166; A.K. Roy & Ors. v. Union of India & Ors., [1982] 2  S.C.R.  272; Kartar Singh v. State of Punjab, (1994)  3  SCC  569  at para 130-131; Madan Singh v. State of Bihar, (2004) 4 SCC  622; Zameer Ahmed Latifur Rehman  Sheikh  v. State of Maharashtra & Ors., (2010) 5 SCC 246; State of M.P. v. Kedia Leather & Liquor Limited,  (2003) 7 SCC 389;  State of Karnataka  v.  Appa  Balu  Ingale, 1995 Supp. (4) SCC 469; R. Rajagopal v. State of T.N., (1994) 6 SCC  63; Attorney   General v. Guardian Newspapers Ltd. (No. 2)[(1990) 1 AC 109 : (1988) 3 All ER  545  :  (1988)  3 WLR 776, HL] popularly known as "Spycatcher case"; The  Secretary,  Ministry of Information & Broadcasting v.  Cricket  Association  of  Bengal  &  Anr., (1995) SCC 2 161 at Para 78 already referred to; Kameshwar Prasad & Ors.  v. The  State  of  Bihar  &  Anr.,  [1962] Supp. 3 S.C.R. 369; Romesh Thappar v. The  State  of  Madras,  [1950]  S.C.R.  594; R.M.D. Chamarbaugwalla v. The Union of  India,  [1957]  S.C.R.  930; State  of  Bombay v.  F.N. Balsara [(1951) SCR 682] and State of Bombay v. United Motors (India) Ltd. [(1953) SCR 1069 at 1098-99].

    Vital Features Of Cyber Crime & It Laws

    • Cyber Laws In India Under Various Laws
    • Format of the Complaint/ Petition to be filed before- The Police
    • Format of the Complaint/ Petition to be filed before- The Criminal Court
    • Format of the Complaint/ Petition to be filed before- The Tribunal & Other Fora- Under the Information & Technology Act, 2000 [IT Act] 
    • Judgments- High Court of various states & the Hon'ble Supreme Court of India.

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