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Women Rights Against Cyber Crime In India In The Wake Of Covid-19

It's been over a year since the global pandemic began. We're all familiar with how the new normal looks and feels like. Staying at home and video calling with friends and relatives and using the internet all day long. However, with this comes the excessive use of social media by the youth of the country. They use it for a wide range of purposes, including work, education, shopping, entertainment, and other requirements.

However, excessive use of social media has a direct impact on cybercrime against women in the country. People are forming relationships online when they are on lockdown, and there have been reports of sextortion. Akancha Foundation, an organization that works for the education and empowerment of people by imparting knowledge on cyber safety, received a total of 412 genuine complaints of cyber abuse in the month of April 2020 itself when the nationwide lockdown began.[1] As a result, the question arises as to what rights women have in India when it comes to cybercrime?

Examining the law

Examining the current legal provisions that can be used to deal with an events like sharing of obscene or morphed photos & videos becomes essential. An examination of the sections of various Acts that may apply to the these offences will be beneficial in understanding the application of the laws. Many cases involving cybercrime against women are covered by sections 66E, 67, 67A, and 67B of the IT Act, as well as sections 354D, 465, 471, 499, 500, and 509 of the Indian Penal Code. In addition, if the girl is a minor, sections 14 and 15 of the Protection of Children from Sexual Offenses (POCSO) Act, 2012 apply.

Section 66E in The Information Technology Act, 2000

This section talks about the capturing, publishing or transmitting the image of a person's private area without their consent, in circumstances violating that person's privacy, the person is punishable by imprisonment up to three years or a fine of up to two lakh rupees, or both. The right to privacy was declared a fundamental right in the landmark case of Justice K. S. Puttaswamy (Retd.) and Anr. V. Union of India and Ors.[2] The right to privacy is protected under the Right to Life in Part III of the Indian Constitution.

Section 67 in The Information Technology Act, 2000[3]

This section covers transmitting or publishing of obscene material in electronic form. Obscene material is herein described as “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”. The first conviction carries a sentence of up to three years in prison and a fine of up to five lakh rupees, with subsequent convictions carrying a sentence of up to five years in prison and a fine of up to ten lakh rupees.

Section 67A in The Information Technology Act, 2000[4]

This section deals with the publishing or transmitting of material containing sexually explicit act, etc., in electronic form. The first conviction carries a sentence of up to five years in prison and a fine of up to ten lakh rupees, with subsequent convictions carrying a sentence of up to seven years in prison and a fine of up to ten lakh rupees.

Section 67B in The Information Technology Act, 2000[5]

This section deals with publishing or transmitting of material depicting children in sexually explicit act, etc., in electronic form.

The first conviction carries a sentence of up to five years in prison and a fine of up to ten lakh rupees, with subsequent convictions carrying a sentence of up to seven years in prison and a fine of up to ten lakh rupees.

Section 354D in The Indian Penal Code, 1860[6]

This section deals with stalking. Cyber stalking is when a person, a group of individuals, or an entity uses information and communication technologies to threaten one or more people. Cyber stalking is an online threat in which the victim and the cyber stalker have no clear connection. About 75 percent of the victims are thought to be women. Sexual abuse, an obsession with passion, vengeance and hatred, and ego and power trips are all key motivators. Stalking is a criminal offence punishable by up to three years in jail and a fine under section 354 D of the Indian Penal Code.

Section 463, 465 & 471 in The Indian Penal Code, 1860[7]

S.463 deals with forgery, Whoever makes any false documents or false electronic record or part of a document or electronic record, with intent to cause damage or injury commits forgery. Forgery is punishable by either imprisonment of any description for a period up to two years, a fine, or both. Section 471 also punishes the use of forged documents or electronic records as authentic, and it is punishable in the same way as forging a document.

Making a false electronic record would include morphing the photographs.

Section 499 & 500 in The Indian Penal Code, 1860[8]

Section 499 of the Indian Penal Code prohibits making or publishing allegedly defamatory remarks about an individual in the form of other words, writings, or visible representations with the intent to damage the person's reputation. As a result, men's motivation to damage someone's reputation is a pre-requisite for an offence under this clause. If the victims so desire, they may bring a case under this clause. Defamation is punishable under Section 500 IPC by simple imprisonment for a period of up to two years, a fine, or both.

Where Can I File A Complaint?

A individual who has been victimised by cyber defamation can file a complaint with the Cyber Crime Investigation Cell. The Criminal Investigation Department's Cyber Crime Investigation Cell is a division of the department (CID). Many cities, have developed Cyber Crime Investigation Cells. Offenses involving computers, computer networks, compute resources, computer systems, computer devices, and the Internet are investigated by the Cyber Crime Investigation Cells. It also has the authority to investigate such high-tech crimes. In addition, several states have now made arrangements for the filing of a E-FIR.

Conclusion
The amount of traffic in the cyber world is growing every day, and so are the chances of becoming a victim. At times, women are a soft target or more vulnerable to men. The rate of crime is rising every day, and every day, a woman is trolled, stalked, or threatened on an online platform. The government has enacted legislation to curb violence, but these laws must be reviewed on a regular basis. The other thing to remember is that women must be careful as well.

They should be careful when posting something on social media and cautious when adding people on social media sites or giving out their phone numbers. Not only women, but also men, would be protected from such activities if such precautions are taken. When using the internet, we can all be more disgusting and painstaking. We will become more vulnerable the more time we spend online without understanding the dangers of this planet


End-Notes:
  1. Press Trust of India, 'Significant' increase in cybercrime against women during lockdown: Experts, NDTV (May 11, 2021, 3:46 PM), https://www.ndtv.com/india-news/significant-increase-in-cyber-crimes-against-women-during-lockdown-experts-2222352
  2. Justice K. S. Puttaswamy (Retd.) and Anr. V. Union of India and Ors., AIR 2017 SC 4161
  3. Information Technology Act, 2000, § 67, No. 21, Acts of Parliament, 2000 (India).
  4. Information Technology Act, 2000, § 67A, No. 21, Acts of Parliament, 2000 (India).
  5. Information Technology Act, 2000, § 67B, No. 21, Acts of Parliament, 2000 (India).
  6. Indian Penal Code, 1860, §354D, No. 45, Acts of Parliament, 1860 (India).
  7. Indian Penal Code, 1860, §463, 465 & 471, No. 45, Acts of Parliament, 1860 (India).
  8. Indian Penal Code, 1860, §499 & 500, No. 45, Acts of Parliament, 1860 (India).

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