What are Cyber Crimes?
The term “cyber crimes” is no where explicitly defined in any statue in India. However, Wikipedia defines cyber crimes as “a crime involving a computer and a network. The computer is either used in the commission of the crime, or is the target of the crime”.
Thus, cybercrimes are - "Offences committed against individuals or groups of individuals with a criminal motive to intentionally harm the reputation of the victim or cause physical or mental harm/ loss, to the victim directly or indirectly, using modern telecommunication networks such as internet, mobile phones etc”. Different form of cyber crimes include ransom-ware, hacking, cyber stalking etc.
Different forms of traditional crimes have now their online versions too. For example, theft has evolved into data breaches, where information of millions of individuals are stolen for private gains.
Importance of Cyber Laws in India:
Various initiatives of central and state governments like Digital India initiative, declining cost of smart phones, cheap internet services by giants like Reliance Jio has enhanced internet penetration rapidly in India. However, cyber crimes threatened to nullify the gains of enhanced virtual world connectivity. Therefore, need for explicit and dedicated cyber laws.
The important of cyber laws has been exemplified by Information Technology Act, 2000 opening paragraph, which states –
“An Act to provide legal recognition for transactions carried out by means of electronic data interchange and other means of electronic communication, commonly referred to as ? “electronic commerce”, which involve the use of alternatives to paper-based methods of communication and storage of information, to facilitate electronic filing of documents with the Government agencies and further to amend the Indian Penal Code, the Indian Evidence Act, 1872, the Banker’s Books Evidence Act, 1891 and the Reserve Bank of India Act, 1934 and for matters connected therewith or incidental thereto”.
These laws assume even more significance today, in the backdrop of thrust on Digital India.
The various advantages of cyber laws include:
What are different Cyber laws in India?
Cyber sphere in India is not governed by a single explicit cyber law but by combination of them including Information Technology Act, Indian Penal Code, Intellectual Property related laws etc. They aim to protect citizens from various cyber crimes like hacking, ransom-ware, obscenity etc.
With growing dependency on the virtual world, need for cyber law arose. It gave birth to India’s first dedicated law on cyber – Information Technology Act, 2000. The objectives of IT Act, 2000 were as follows:
Let’s now read about Information Technology Act in great depth
What is the Information Technology Act, 2000?
Information Technology Act, also popularly known as Indian Cyber Act came into force in 2000. IT Act addresses issues pertaining to online security, which are crucial for the success of electronic transactions. It also lends legal credibility to digital signatures. The Act further amended:
The Act essentially deals with the following issues and matters concerned thereto:
Information Technology Act Structure:
The Act has 13 chapters and 90 Sections.
Cyber Crimes Defined under IT Act:
The Act extends to whole of India. And by virtue of Section 75 as read below:
Section 75: Act to apply for offence or contravention committed outside India:
(1) Subject to the provisions of sub-section (2), the provisions of this Act shall apply also to any offence or contravention committed outside India by any person irrespective of his nationality.
(2) For the purposes of sub-section (1), this Act shall apply to an offence or contravention committed outside India by any person if the act or conduct constituting the offence or contravention involves a computer, computer system or computer network located in India.
The act also applies to any offence or contravention committed outside India by any person.
There are also certain exceptions to the Act, detailed in it’s First Schedule. These exceptions include:
Information Technology Amendment in 2008:
Salient features of this amendment include:
Whether Offences are Compoundable, Cognizable and Bailable?
Section 77A of IT Act says –“Subject to certain exceptions, all the offences under the IT Act for which the punishment is imprisonment for a term of 3 years or less, are compoundable. The provisions of sections 265B and 265C of the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973 shall apply with respect to such compounding”.
Section 77B of the IT Act further lays down –“Notwithstanding anything contained in the Code of Criminal Procedure, all the offences punishable with imprisonment of 3 years and above under the IT Act shall be cognizable and all offences punishable with imprisonment of 3 years or less shall be bailable offences’.
As such, most of cyber crimes under IT Act are bailable, except:
Indian Penal Code:
Amendments have been made in IPC, to specifically cover cyber crimes. The most important ones are as follow:
Sections: Bailable or Non-bailable?
All cyber crimes under IPC are bailable, except:
Overlap between Laws – IT Act and IPC:
In India both Information Technology Act, 2000 and amended Indian Penal Code, 1860 penalize cyber crimes. As expected, there are many over lapping provisions in these laws. Many of the cyber crimes penalized by IPC and IT Act, have essentially the same ingredients and even nomenclature. Consider the following examples:
Parallel Provisions in IPC and IT Act, 2000
|S. No||Provision in IPC||Provision in IT Act|
|1||Section 378 of IPC||Sections 43 and 66 of IT Act|
|2||Section 411 of IPC||Section 66B of IT Act|
|3||Section 419 of IPC||Section 66C of IT Act and Section 66D of IT Act|
|4||Sections 292 and 294 of IPC||Sections 67, 67A and 67B of IT Act|
|5||Section 409 of IPC||Section 65 of IT Act|
The parallel provisions in Indian Penal Code and IT Act, leads to conflicting situation at times. For example a particular section being –
Hacking and data theft has been defined as offences, under section 43 and 66 of IT Act (bailable and compoundable). But, under Section 378 of IPC they are non bailable and further under Section 425 of IPC, they are non compoundable.
Other Acts having bearing on Cyber Crimes:
IPR related acts under which criminal remedies are available, include:
Copyright is an exclusive legal right granted to the creators of the intellectual work. Copyright owner has several rights including right to reproduce, translate, adapt, perform, distribute and publicly display the work, etc. When the owner of copyright forgoes some of its rights, it’s called copyleft.
Registration is not mandatory since copyright comes into existence as soon as the intellectual work is created. However, it is highly recommended to get the copyright registered for better IPR enforceability. This is because a registered copyright has more evidentiary value in court of law.
Works Covered under Copyrights:
Following are the works covered under the Copyright law:
Duration of Copyright:
A trademark is a business identity and helps its customers to identify and distinguish the goods or service offered by the entity. Names, logo, packaging, sounds, signs, words, colors or any combination thereof can be filed as trademarks.
Offences committed and Relevant sections applicable:
IT Act Sections:
|Tampering with computer source documents||Sec. 65|
|Hacking with computer systems, Data alteration||Sec. 66|
|Sending offensive messages through communication service, etc. (Now struck down)||Sec. 66A|
|Dishonestly receiving stolen computer resource or communication device||Sec. 66B|
|Identity theft||Sec. 66C|
|Cheating by personation by using computer resources||Sec. 66D|
|Violation of privacy||Sec. 66E|
|Cyber terrorism||Sec. 66F|
|Publishing or transmitting obscene material in electronic form||Sec. 67|
|Publishing or transmitting of material containing sexually explicit act, etc. in electronic form||Sec. 67A|
|Punishment for publishing or transmitting of material depicting children in sexually explicit act, etc. in electronic form||Sec. 67B|
|Preservation and retention of information by intermediaries||Sec. 67C|
|Powers to issue directions for interception or monitoring or decryption of any information through any computer resource||Sec. 69|
|Power to issue directions for blocking for public access of any information through any computer resource||Sec. 69A|
|Power to authorize to monitor and collect traffic data or information through any computer resource for cyber security||Sec. 69B|
|Un-authorized access to protected system||Sec. 70|
|Penalty for misrepresentation||Sec. 71|
|Breach of confidentiality and privacy||Sec. 72|
|Publishing false digital signature certificates||Sec. 73|
|Publication for fraudulent purpose||Sec. 74|
|Act to apply for offence or contraventions committed outside India||Sec. 75|
|Compensation, penalties or confiscation not to interfere with other punishments||Sec. 77|
|Compounding of offences||Sec. 77A|
|Offences with three year imprisonment to be cognizable||Sec. 77B|
|Exemption from liability of intermediary in certain cases||Sec. 79|
|Punishment for abetment of offences||Sec. 84B|
|Punishment for attempt to commit offences||Sec. 84C|
|Offences by Companies||Sec. 85|
|Sending threatening messages by e-mail||Sec. 503 IPC|
|Word, gesture or act intended to insult the modesty of a woman||Sec. 509 IPC|
|Sending defamatory messages by e-mail||Sec. 499 IPC|
|Bogus websites, Cyber frauds||Sec. 420 IPC|
|E-mail spoofing||Sec. 463 IPC|
|Making a false document||Sec. 464 IPC|
|Forgery for purpose of cheating||Sec. 468 IPC|
|Forgery for purpose of harming reputation||Sec. 469 IPC|
|Web-jacking||Sec. 383 IPC|
|E-mail abuse||Sec. 500 IPC|
|Punishment for criminal intimidation||Sec. 506 IPC|
|Criminal intimidation by an anonymous communication||Sec. 507 IPC|
|Obscenity||Sec. 292 IPC|
|Printing etc. of grossly indecent or scurrilous matter or matter intended for blackmail||Sec. 292A IPC|
|Sale, etc., of obscene objects to young person||Sec. 293 IPC|
|Obscene acts and songs||Sec. 294 IPC|
|Theft of computer hardware||Sec. 378 IPC|
Copyright Act Sections:
|When copyright infringed: Copyright in a work shall be deemed to be infringed||Sec. 51|
|Offence of infringement of copyright or other rights conferred by this Act. Any person who knowingly infringes or abets the infringement||Sec. 63|
|Enhanced penalty on second and subsequent convictions||Sec. 63A|
|Knowing use of infringing copy of computer program to be an offence||Sec. 63B|
Types of Cyber Crimes and Applicable Laws:
Cyber Pornography Crimes:
Social Networking Fake Profile and Impersonation Crimes:
Theft of the Confidential Information:
Credit Card Frauds: