Aim And Objectives:
Cyber Defamation is one of the worst forms of cybercrime which engulfs all walks
of life into its fold and endangers and causes damages upon the individual and
institution’s name and fame, to a larger extent.
In this context, the aim of the article / piece of opinion is to bring in
awareness of amongst the readers on the gravity of the Cyber Defamation (cybercrime),
its dimension in India, various provisions of the Information Technology Act and
of course, solutions in totality in arresting this menace in maligning
individual and institution.
What Is Cyber Defamation?
Any intentional false communication, either written or spoken, that harms a
person’s reputation; decreases the respect, regard or confidence in which a
person is held; or induces disparaging, hostile or disagreeable opinions or
feelings against a person is known as defamation.
Internet is the cheapest way of communication through text, photographs and
voice/sounds. One can even explore and have a repository of information from
websites and other network providers. This system of the cyber world works on
websites, internet services or the internet domain. Such a system is controlled
by the internet providers or by the company itself through its programmer,
including having provisions of restrictions on certain websites or certain
In this context, acting in an illegal manner in intruding and interfering and
faking contents of individuals or institutions by technical genius or a person
of acting in illegal manner, with intent of defaming and denigrating name and
fame of individuals or institutions in gaining commercial edge or
competitiveness or other purpose which is unpalatable or against lawful obeyance,
amounts to crime which is being acted through cyber instrumentals viz.,
internet, website and other electronic forms and manners.
Dimension of Cyber Crime And Defamation:
Cyberspace has a very wide meaning and is not restricted to the internet but
also included computers as a core medium including networks, data, software,
etc. Any crime related to computer or use of computer network meaning “cybercrime
There are two types of defamation viz., one is related to libel and another one
is related to slander.
Libel defamation means ‘injury on name and reputation of individual or
institution through a written statement while slander defamation means causing
such injury through oral words or statements to defame character and reputation.
Its dimension pervades across illegal access, illegal interception, data
interference and offense related to child pornography, misuse of devices, etc.
This also includes computer-related forgery, fraud, and offense related system
interference and copyright, etc.
Provisions In Better Management And Arrest of This Menace
Cyberlaw includes all kinds of cybercrimes, electronic commerce, and freedom of
expression, intellectual property rights, jurisdiction issues, and privacy
rights. Cybercrimes include offenses like credit card fraud, unauthorized access
to computer systems, child pornography, software and hardware piracy, and cyber
stalking. Although the concept of freedom of expression includes defamation,
obscenity issues, and censorship.
The concept of cybercrime is the most developing initially and it includes only
the destruction or theft of computer data and programs. Yet, recently cases on
defamation to one’s character, illegal access, and pornography, illegal
gambling, cyber stalking are considered as a severe offense.
There are methods to block access to internet content on a larger level.
However, even if websites are blocked by the internet provider or by the Govt.
itself, there is still access to such features and content that is through the
However, Government has been making various provisions to strengthen the
existing laws and brining in amendments in curtailing and arresting this menace
and some of them are hereunder:
Indian Penal Code 1890
Chapter XXI of the IPC exclusively talks of defamation. Section 499 prescribes
Section 500 of IPC-
whoever, by words either spoken or intended to be read, or
by signs or by visible representations, makes or publishes any imputation
concerning any person intending to harm, or knowing or having reason to believe
that such imputation will harm, the reputation of such person, is said, except
in the cases hereinafter excepted, to defame that person.
Section 469 of IPC-
Whoever commits forgery, intending that the document or
electronic record forged shall harm the reputation of any party, or knowing that
is likely to be used for that purpose shall be punished with imprisonment of
either description for a term which may extend to three years and shall also be
liable to fine.
Section 503 of IPC-
the offense of criminal intimation by use of emails and
other electronic means of communication for threatening or intimidating any
person or his property or reputation.
Further, says that whoever threatens another with any injury to reputation or
property, or to the person or reputation of anyone in whom that person is
interested, with intent to cause alarm to that person, or to cause that person
to do any act which he is not legally bound to do, or to omit to do any act
which that person is legally entitled to do, as the means of avoiding the
execution of such threats, commits criminal intimidation.
(B) Information Technology Act 2000
Section 66A of IT Act – any person who sends, through a computer resource or a
Any information that is grossly offensive or has menacing character; or
Any content information which he knows to be false, but to cause annoyance,
inconvenience, danger, obstruction, insult, injury, criminal intimidation,
enmity, hatred, or ill will, persistently makes by making use of such computer
resource or a communication device;
Any electronic mail or electronic mail message to cause annoyance or
inconvenience or to deceive or to mislead the addressee or recipient about the
origin of such messages shall be punishable with imprisonment for a term which
may extend to three years and with fine.
After Mumbai incident, an Information Technology Act was strengthened and was
being implemented in strengthening just and fair censorship and contents of
cybercrime born activities, However, despite amendments, there are still more
efforts in monitoring contents and censorship upon intent and activities of
elements which are prone to disturb tranquillity and denting/taunting image of
individual or institution from defamatory or provoking contents from web.
Amendments in the Information Technology Act provide for the legal area for the
use of the internet and other commercial activities including hacking, tracking,
security, digital signature, etc.
This Act especially criminalizes the publishing and posting of the obscene
information and grant powers to the police to search any premise for the
criminal for posting such offensive image and defaming the innocent without a
warrant and immediately arrest of the individual commenting such crime under the
violation of the Act. This 2008 amendment also provides powers to the Government
to block the internet site and content and arrest the criminal who is sending
messages which deemed to be defamatory and offensive.
The Information Technology Act 2000 which emphasizes on the internet companies
to remove all the contents within the 30 hours of the notifications by the
Government of India. The contents specifically involve defamatory content on any
individual, institution, religion, film, culture, and ethics, and anything which
is directly harmful to the minors and weaker sections of the society and hateful
act or speech or infringement of copyright.
There are many instances where websites were completely banned, such as
Wikipedia, Twitter and also famous Qatar News Channel for one or other reasons.
Generally, the authority banning or blocking the website is in the hands of the
Lacuna Which Needs Attention(A) Migration of Content
In the Indian context, which has a strong traditional and cultural value, the
effectiveness of the content and its migration is so quick that the moment one
website is blocked; the same content reaches to the different website. The
migration of the content is the main reason why the Government failed to provide
security to the victims.
(B) Technical Feasibility of The Censorship And Filtering of The Defamatory
In this process, there are always difficulties in identifying and isolating as
to which website is to be blocked and how and when and its implications upon
other and similar contents.
Surveillance was highly criticized by many authors as this amounts to
interference on the personalized data of the companies and compromise on the
copyrighted content of the author. Opinion and reviews would also be traced
which may also amount to the suppression of freedom and expression.
Lack of Expertise And Technology Savvy
The cybercrime is a new paranoid scenario to the Indian environment
comparatively to developed countries, the lack of expertise-ness and technology
in arresting this crime which exploded in various dimensions in India is one
aspect which hampers effective implementation and curtailing various anti-social
and anti-national activities taking place under the guise of various forms.
Conclusion With Recommendations:
Against this foregoing background and experiences enriched during the past
decades, the following solutions would assist to a large extent in arresting
cybercrime and strength monitoring mechanism of Government agencies, in ensuring
promoting, protecting and preserving fundamental rights embedded in our
Privacy needed on social networking site to avoid cyber defamation:
Networking sites have seen immense popularity in the internet world. Sites, such
as Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and My space have its boom in popularity.
Social networking sites upload not only personal data and contents but also
images, songs, videos, short movies, etc. Such pictures, videos, and other items
can be tagged. Thus, it is essential to protect such content and its intent in
totality by this social networking to ensure privacy. Otherwise, illegal act of
cybercrime endangers basic preamble of the meaning of privacy and penetrate and
perform injury or cause or damage or defame name and fame of the individual or
Information Technology Act to evolve rapidly changing technology/environment:
Act also needs to evolve with the rapidly changing environment of technology and
the development of fraud and crime in new forms and manner.
Section 67 of the IT Act 2000 provides for punishment to whoever transmits or
publishes or causes to be published or transmitted any material which is obscene
in electronic form with imprisonment for a term which may extend to two years
and with fine which may extend to twenty five thousand rupees on first
conviction and in the event of second may extend to five years and also with
fine which may extend to fifty thousand rupees, it does not expressly talk of
above provision primarily aims at curbing the increasing number of child
pornography cases and does not encompass other crimes, which would have been
expressly brought within its ambit, such as, cyber defamation.
of existing legislative provisions is need of the hour at regular intervals to
ensure that the network environment is adequately protected against criminal
Special Force to handle cyber crimes:
Force to handle cyber crimes in State and Central domain consists of enforcement
agencies including police authority, and legal luminaries plus Law Ministry,
Child and Women Empowerment Ministry shall be established to exclusively bring
in culprits to book and expedite trials in court effectively to ensure effective
Awareness to be created amongst vulnerable segments of the society like women,
Since cyber defamation is also a social offense and mostly in majority cases,
women and children become a pawn to the illegal elements. Though IT Act
(Amendment) 2008 has different phrases to deal with the punishment, including:
- punishment for publishing or transmitting the obscene material in the
- punishment for publishing and transmitting material depicting children
in sexually explicit act in the electronic form and
- punishment for publishing and transmitting any act which is sexual
explicit act in electronic form of the children, Government should take
measures to disseminate various existing provisions / rules focusing towards
women and children, so as prevent them falling as pawn into hands of the
anti-social and national elements as women and children form a quite
important segment of the society.
By keeping this in mind, parents are also one of the media to make their
children aware on the pros and cons of the intent and make sure children below
eighteen years, should not part of social networking site and in case they are
uploading of pictures or writing contents, it should be writing under the
guidance of the parents.
School teachers/Faculties, relatives and well-wishers should make children aware
of the consequences of browsing, searching for information and entering into the
banned/restricted contents or websites.
1. Primary Sources
- Indian Penal Code 1860
- Information Technology Act 2000 – Bare Act
2. Secondary Sources
- The law of defamation by miller Collins
- Defamation law and free speech by Brian martin
- Informational technology act books by Vikaas Sood
- Defamation Act: A Summary and Overview – Iain Wilson and Max Campbell
- INTERNET LAW - Understanding Internet Defamation BY Kelly O'Connell,
- Thomas H. Roberts & Associates, PC by Virginia's Personal Injury & Civil
Rights Law Firm
- Cyber Defamation and liabilities of internet service providers and
intermediary in India and UK by Vivek Kumar Verma.
- CERT – Wikipedia
Written By: Adv. S.Selvakumari - Bombay High Court