As the E-Governance functions are becoming increasingly pervasive in India, they are starting to touch citizens’ lives in many ways – be it Unique Identity, passport issuance, immigration control, driving license or vehicle registration certificate; filing of income tax returns; land records, and many more. Not only financial services, but social media and entertainment websites have been gaining a lot of attention from the public due to easy accessibility.
Due to the highly liberalized existence of the digital system, persons who aim to violate the rapidly developing technological facilities are taking utmost advantage of this global trend.
In such a situation, the fairer sex of the society is an easy target for such cyber crimes. If you ask a contemporary woman the following questions, most of them will reply in affirmation to them.
1. Are you aware of various cyber crimes as per laws, such as cyber stalking, data thief, contamination of data and personal information, hacking, etc.? Are you afraid that it might happen to you?
2. Whether your personal details on your personal accounts have been circulated on social media sites without your knowledge?
3. Have you ever been a victim of sexual abuse on the internet by people with unknown identity?
4. Have your photos ever been uploaded /circulated on social sites without your permission by someone you may or may not know?
Getting cyber stalked by someone can prove to be even more upsetting than being stalked in person. This was proved by an American citizen named Hunter Moore, who started his own website (which is now defunct) in which he posted personal pictures and videos of regular ladies without either their knowledge or consent. These people were mostly his ex-girlfriends or persons with whom he had sour relations. The victims were rendered utterly humiliated and hurt and they claimed that this work was done by Miller to take revenge on them.
Since the trend was started by Moore, it has gone viral and similar acts of digital privacy violation have been committed in India on a large scale. A lot of Indians too have resorted to getting a kick out of such monstrous acts. Such sites are run by Indians either on Indian servers or they have tied up with foreign websites who have their servers located in countries like Hong Kong where it is virtually untraceable.
Countless unsuspecting Indian women (even the ones who live in rural areas with no access to the virtual world and hence, no knowledge of the way they are being portrayed on the internet) are being targeted every day.
When cyber criminals like Moore could not find victims to target, they started creating morphed pictures using editing applications like Photoshop. In fact, this technology is now very easily accessible to anyone and everyone.
· How can one acquire justice when they aren’t even aware that they are being wronged?
· Which Indian laws protect a girl after her personal pictures have been made public by someone?
· More importantly, how is she treated by the community in general? As a victim? As a laughing stock? I would bet on the latter. What law protects her from that kind of treatment?
· Not only that, what about when an ex-husband releases his ex-wife’s private photographs on the internet? And what if this is being done by him while they are still married? What are the laws which protect her then?
· Why do couples look down upon pre-nuptial agreement when it is that one thing that can save them in this kind of situations? Most law firms make their revenue from such agreements, not because they divorce rates are high, but because people are becoming cautious and taking appropriate steps to protect themselves.
On January 23rd 2014, Moore was indicted in a federal court in California following an arrest by the FBI on charges of conspiracy, unauthorized access to a protected computer, and aggravated identity theft. Even after having proved such serious crimes against him, Moore was released on bond merely days after his arrest and is allowed to access the internet now.
After reading this, if you call American cyber laws as slack, then you will call the Indian cyber laws as non-existential.
All industries be it banking, telecom or others rely heavily on IT infrastructure and use them for providing services to the end customers. However, most Social Media and Internet Forums, whether large or medium, continue to deploy and operate systems to meet their objectives without fully appreciating the need for effectively governing enterprise-wide information security.
Serious thought needs to be given by our lawmakers to the laws which are in force at present and the change in times from the day they were first drafted and enforced. Lawmakers need to visualize the future and anticipate such situations and they must not be reluctant in amending outdated laws as they always have. What are the precautions to be taken to avoid such crimes? Whether Information Act sufficient to protect this victim and to get redressed to victim in fair manner? Regulatory and law-enforcement agencies require proof of compliance with a plethora of security regulations by which time, the criminal has virtually vanished into thin air. What needs to b e done to speed up the process? India boasts of giving birth to the most innovative thinking computer engineers. Then why do the officials working in cyber cells have hardly minimalistic knowledge about computer programs?
While technological innovations in IT systems continue to happen, it is important that the laws for security and privacy to be implemented in our country to provide a feeling of trust to our citizens.