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Cyber Laws - A basic understanding

Introduction to Cyber Law:

Cyber Law as we all know is the law that deals with crimes done with the help of modern technology that is mainly through computers. The Parliament of India passed its first cyber law through the Information Technology Act,2000 which provides the legal infrastructure for e-commerce in India.

This law helps with the various legal formalities that e- commerce apps or sites have to face. Another important reason for passing this law is to protect the security of India so that it does not it does get threatened by people who can easily access through confidential data’s with the help of a computer or any other such electronic device. Hence,the importance of cyber law is increasing day by day in the modern society

Cyber Law: Meaning and Definition

Cyber Law is any law that applies to the internet and internet related technologies. Thus, Cyber law is the area of law that deals with the internet’s relationship to technological and electronic elements including computer software ,hardware and information systems.

Cyber laws prevent or reduce large scale damage from cybercriminal activities by protecting information access, privacy, communications, intellectual property (IP) and freedom of speech related to the use of the Internet, websites, email, computers, cell phones, software and hardware, such as data storage devices.

Offences relating to cyber laws:

There are various offences that are related to cyber law and the Information Technology Act,2000 deals with such offences and their punishments. The offences mentioned in the act are as follows:
  • Tampering with computer source documents (Sec 65):
    Whoever knowingly or intentionally conceals, destroys or alters or intentionally or knowingly causes another to conceal, destroy or alter any computer source code used for a computer, computer programme, computer system or computer network, when the computer source code is required to be kept or maintained by law for the time being in force, shall be punishable with imprisonment up to three years, or with fine which may extend up to two lakh rupees, or with both.

    Explanation:
    For the purposes of this section, "computer source code" means the listing of programmes, computer commands, design and layout and programme analysis of computer resource in any form.
  • Hacking with computer source( Sec 66):
    1. Whoever with the intent of cause or knowing that is likely to cause wrongful loss or damage to the public or any person destroys or deletes or alters any information residing in a computer resource or diminishes its value or utility or affects it injuriously by any means, commit’s hacking
    2. Whoever commits hacking shall be punished with imprisonment up to three years, or with fine which may extend up to two lakh rupees, or with both.

  • Receiving stolen computer or communication device (Sec 66B):
    Whoever dishonestly receives or retains any stolen computer resource or communication device knowing or having reason to believe the same to be stolen computer resource or communication device, shall be punished with imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to three years or with fine which may extend to rupees one lakh or with both.

  • Using password of another person(Sec 66C):
    A person fraudulently uses the password, digital signature or other unique identification of another person.
    Penalty - Imprisonment up to three years, or/and with fine up to Rs 100,000

  • Cheating using computer resource( Sec 66D):
    Whoever, by means of any communication device or computer resource cheats by personation, shall be punished with imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to three years and shall also be liable to fine which may extend to one lakh rupees.
  • Punishment for violation of privacy( Sec 66E):
  • Whoever, intentionally or knowingly captures, publishes or transmits the image of a private area of any person without his or her consent, under circumstances violating the privacy of that person, shall be punished with imprisonment which may extend to three years or with fine not exceeding two lakh rupees, or with both

    Explanation.- For the purposes of this section:
    1. transmit means to electronically send a visual image with the intent that it be viewed by a person or persons
    2. capture, with respect to an image, means to videotape, photograph, film or record by any means;
    3. private area” means the naked or undergarment clad genitals, pubic area, buttocks or female breast;
    4. publishes” means reproduction in the printed or electronic form and making it available for public;
    5. under circumstances violating privacy” means circumstances in which a person can have a reasonable expectation that:
      1. he or she could disrobe in privacy, without being concerned that an image of his private area was being captured; or
      2. any part of his or her private area would not be visible to the public, regardless of whether that person is in a public or private place.
         
  • Punishment for cyber terrorism (Sec 66F):
    1. Whoever:
      1. with intent to threaten the unity, integrity, security or sovereignty of India or to strike terror in the people or any section of the people by:
        1. denying or cause the denial of access to any person authorised to access computer resource; or
        2. attempting to penetrate or access a computer resource without authorisation or exceeding authorised access; or
        3. introducing or causing to introduce any Computer Contaminant and by means of such conduct causes or is likely to cause death or injuries to persons or damage to or destruction of property or disrupts or knowing that it is likely to cause damage or disruption of supplies or services essential to the life of the community or adversely affect the critical information infrastructure specified under section 70, or

      2. knowingly or intentionally penetrates or accesses a computer resource without authorisation or exceeding authorised access, and by means of such conduct obtains access to information, data or computer database that is restricted for reasons of the security of the State or foreign relations; or any restricted information, data or computer database, with reasons to believe that such information, data or computer database so obtained may be used to cause or likely to cause injury to the interests of the sovereignty and integrity of India, the security of the State, friendly relations with foreign States, public order, decency or morality, or in relation to contempt of court, defamation or incitement to an offence, or to the advantage of any foreign nation, group of individuals or otherwise, commits the offence of cyber terrorism.
         
    2. Whoever commits or conspires to commit cyber terrorism shall be punishable with imprisonment which may extend to imprisonment for life’.
       
  • Punishment for publishing or transmitting obscene material in electronic form ( Sec 67):
    Whoever publishes or transmits or causes to be published in the electronic form, any material which is lascivious or appeals to the prurient interest or if its effect is such as to tend to deprave and corrupt persons who are likely, having regard to all relevant circumstances, to read, see or hear the matter contained or embodied in it, shall be punished on first conviction with imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to three years and with fine which may extend to five lakh rupees and in the event of a second or subsequent conviction with imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to five years and also with fine which may extend to ten lakh rupees.

  • Punishment for publishing or transmitting of material containing sexually explicit act, etc. in electronic form (Sec 67A):
    Whoever publishes or transmits or causes to be published or transmitted in the electronic form any material which contains sexually explicit act or conduct shall be punished on first conviction with imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to five years and with fine which may extend to ten lakh rupees and in the event of second or subsequent conviction with imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to seven years and also with fine which may extend to ten lakh rupees.

    Exception: This section and section 67 does not extend to any book, pamphlet, paper, writing, drawing, painting, representation or figure in electronic form:
    the publication of which is proved to be justified as being for the public good on the ground that such book, pamphlet, paper, writing, drawing, painting, representation or figure is in the interest of science, literature, art, or learning or other objects of general concern; or which is kept or used bona fide for religious purposes.

  • Punishment for publishing or transmitting of material depicting children in sexually explicit act, etc. in electronic form (Sec 67B):
    Whoever,-
    1. publishes or transmits or causes to be published or transmitted material in any electronic form which depicts children engaged in sexually explicit act or conduct or
    2. creates text or digital images, collects, seeks, browses, downloads, advertises, promotes, exchanges or distributes material in any electronic form depicting children in obscene or indecent or sexually explicit manner or
    3. cultivates, entices or induces children to online relationship with one or more children for and on sexually explicit act or in a manner that may offend a reasonable adult on the computer resource or
    4. facilitates abusing children online or
    5. records in any electronic form own abuse or that of others pertaining to sexually explicit act with children, shall be punished on first conviction with imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to five years and with a fine which may extend to ten lakh rupees and in the event of second or subsequent conviction with imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to seven years and also with fine which may extend to ten lakh rupees:

      Provided that the provisions of section 67, section 67A and this section does not extend to any book, pamphlet, paper, writing, drawing, painting, representation or figure in electronic form:
      1. The publication of which is proved to be justified as being for the public good on the ground that such book, pamphlet, paper writing, drawing, painting, representation or figure is in the interest of science, literature, art or learning or other objects of general concern; or
      2. which is kept or used for bonafide heritage or religious purposes
Explanation: For the purposes of this section, “children” means a person who has not completed the age of 18 years

These are the offences and the related punishments that are given on the breach of law as per the Information Technology Act, 2000.

Recent cases related to cyber crime in India:
India ranks 3rd in cyber attacks in the world.
There are many cases relating to cyber crime in India out of which some of are as follows:
Pune Citibank Mphasis Call Center Fraud
Some ex-employees of BPO arm of MPhasis Ltd Msource defrauded US Customers of Citibank to the tune of Rs 1.5 crores. It was one of those cyber crime cases that raised concerns of many kinds including the role of "Data Protection".

The crime was obviously committed using "Unauthorized Access" to the "Electronic Account Space" of the customers. It is therefore firmly within the domain of "Cyber Crimes".
ITA-2000 is versatile enough to accommodate the aspects of crime not covered by ITA-2000 but covered by other statutes since any IPC offence committed with the use of "Electronic Documents" can be considered as a crime with the use of a "Written Documents". "Cheating", "Conspiracy", "Breach of Trust", etc. are therefore applicable in the above case in addition to the section in ITA-2000.

Under ITA-2000 the offence is recognized both under Section 66 and Section 43. Accordingly, the persons involved are liable for imprisonment and fine as well as a liability to pay damages to the victims to the maximum extent of Rs 1 crore per victim for which the "Adjudication Process" can be invoked.

SMC Pneumatics (India) Pvt. Ltd. vs. Jogesh Kwatra
In India's first case of cyber defamation, the High Court of Delhi assumed jurisdiction over a matter where a corporation's reputation was being defamed through emails and passed an important ex-parte injunction.

Amongst the many cyber cases in India, in this case, the defendant Jogesh Kwatra being an employee of the plaintiff company started sending derogatory, defamatory, obscene, vulgar, filthy and abusive emails to his employers as also to different subsidiaries of the said company all over the world with the aim to defame the company and its Managing Director Mr. R K Malhotra. The plaintiff filed a suit for permanent injunction restraining the defendant from doing his illegal acts of sending derogatory emails to the plaintiff.

On behalf of the plaintiff, it was contended that the emails sent by the defendant were distinctly obscene, vulgar, abusive, intimidating, humiliating and defamatory in nature. Counsel further argued that the aim of sending the said emails was to malign the high reputation of the plaintiff all over India and the world. He further contended that the acts of the defendant in sending the emails had resulted in an invasion of the legal rights of the plaintiff.

Further, the defendant is under a duty not to send the aforesaid emails. It is pertinent to note that after the plaintiff company discovered the said employee could be indulging in the matter of sending abusive emails, the plaintiff terminated the services of the defendant.

After hearing detailed arguments of Counsel for Plaintiff, Hon'ble Judge of the Delhi High Court passed an ex-parte ad interim injunction, observing that a prima facie case had been made out by the plaintiff. Consequently, in this cyber fraud case in India, the Delhi High Court restrained the defendant from sending derogatory, defamatory, obscene, vulgar, humiliating and abusive emails, either to the plaintiff or to its sister subsidiaries all over the world, including their Managing Directors and their Sales and Marketing departments.

Further, Hon'ble Judge also restrained the defendant from publishing, transmitting or causing to be published any information in the actual world, as also in cyberspace, which is derogatory or defamatory or abusive.

This order of Delhi High Court assumes tremendous significance as this is the first time that an Indian Court assumes jurisdiction in a matter concerning cyber defamation and grants an ex-parte injunction restraining the defendant from defaming the plaintiff by sending derogatory, defamatory, abusive and obscene emails either to the plaintiffs or their subsidiaries.

State of Tamil Nadu Vs Suhas Katti
The Case of Suhas Katti is notable for the fact that the conviction was achieved successfully within a relatively quick time of 7 months from the filing of the FIR, making it one of the notable cyberlaw cases in India. Considering that similar cases have been pending in other states for a much longer time, the efficient handling of the case which happened to be the first case of the Chennai Cyber Crime Cell going to trial deserves a special mention.

The case is related to the posting of obscene, defamatory and annoying message about a divorced 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.

Based on a complaint made by the victim in February 2004, the Police traced the accused to Mumbai and arrested him within the next few days. The accused was a known family friend of the victim and was reportedly interested in marrying her. She, however, married another person. This marriage later ended in divorce, and the accused started contacting her once again. On her reluctance to marry him, the accused took up harassment through the Internet.

On 24-3-2004, a Charge Sheet was filed, u/s 67 of the IT Act 2000, 469 and 509 IPC before The Hon'ble Addl. CMM Egmore by citing 18 witnesses and 34 documents and material objects. The same was taken on file in C.C.NO.4680/2004. On the prosecution side, 12 witnesses were examined, and entire documents were marked as Exhibits.

The Defence argued, in this cyber crime case, that the offending emails would have been given either by the ex-husband of the complainant or the complainant herself to implicate the accused as accused alleged to have turned down the request of the complainant to marry her.

Further, the defence counsel argued that some of the documentary evidence was not sustainable under Section 65 B of the Indian Evidence Act. However, the court relied upon the expert witnesses, and other evidence produced before it, including the witnesses of the Cyber Cafe owners, and came to the conclusion that the crime was proved.

Ld. Additional Chief Metropolitan Magistrate, Egmore, delivered the judgement on 5-11-04 as follows: "The accused is found guilty of offences under section 469, 509 IPC and 67 of the IT Act 2000, and the accused is convicted and sentenced for the offence to undergo RI for 2 years, under 469 IPC, and to pay a fine of Rs.500/- and for the offence u/s 509 IPC sentenced to undergo 1 year simple imprisonment and to pay a fine of Rs.500/- and for the offence u/s 67 of the IT Act 2000 to undergo RI for 2 years and to pay a fine of Rs.4000/-. All sentences to run concurrently."

The accused paid the fine amount, and he was lodged at Central Prison, Chennai. This is considered as the first case convicted under section 67 of the Information Technology Act 2000 in India.

Conclusion:
The importance of cyber law in our country is therefore increasing day by day and with our more dependence on technology, humans need a strict set of laws and rules that would guarantee their right of privacy being protected from the hackers.

Besides the above mentioned case laws, there are many frauds ,small or big that don’t get reported to the cyber crime department . People sometimes loose a lots of money because of these kind of crimes and they do not know what action to take because our knowledge in technology is still in a learning process.

So, in order to protect ourselves from these crimes we must not share anything too much personal on the internet unless it is completely safe and secured . Cyber laws are still getting modified for the benefit of public and in the coming days there will be sufficient laws for the protection of personal data on the internet.

Award Winning Article Is Written By: Mr.Soubhratra Bhattacharjee
Awarded certificate of Excellence
Authentication No: MA33255002629-12-0321

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