Let us take the lead: Fight Cyber Crime
Intro:Social networking is a great tool to stay connected, but also easy to misuse. While you feel secure using the computer in the safety of your home or office, someone somewhere could be stalking you with evil intentions.
Twenty-five year old Shobhana (name changed) was living a nightmare. When she first started receiving obscene calls from unknown numbers, she couldn’t understand what was going on. Then her friends told her they were getting obscene mails from her id. Finally she realised that a fake Facebook profile had been created describing her as a ‘call girl’ by someone who had hacked into her e-mail and accessed her personal details, including her photograph and mobile number. This person was actually chatting up men using her photo, even providing her number. By the time they gathered courage to approach the police, the woman and her family were emotional wrecks. The police were able to trace the culprit and slammed a case under Section 509 of the Indian Penal Code for outraging the modesty of a woman.
In another case, an engineering and management graduate, facing prosecution in a dowry harassment case, was arrested by the Delhi police for sending obscene e-mails in his wife’s name to several persons.
The World Wide Web is a very useful place to be, but it can also be used to circulate offensive content such as pornography, hate speech and defamatory materials. The widespread circulation of such content is particularly harmful for women. Dirty minds become more emboldened in their offensive behaviour presuming that the digital medium provides the convenient shield of anonymity and fake identities.
India has crossed the danger mark in cyber crime targeting women and children. Cyber crimes cases witnessed a steep rise of 51.5 per cent in India in just one year. Most victims of these crimes are teenage girls and women. In cyber space, women are found to be victims of harassment via e-mail, cyber-stalking, cyber defamation, morphing, email spoofing, hacking, cyber pornography and cyber sexual defamation, cyber flirting and cyber bullying.
According to the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB), undivided Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka and Maharashtra occupy the top 3 positions when it comes to cyber crimes registered under the new IT Act in India. Interestingly, these three states together contribute more than 70 per cent to India's revenue from IT and IT related industries. Among the Union Territories, the national capital Delhi has registered 131 cyber crime related cases. It has seen a rise of 72.4 per cent when compared to 2012.
Cyber stalking is one of the most talked about net crimes. It involves following a person's movements across the Internet by posting messages (sometimes threatening) on the bulletin boards frequented by the victim, entering chat-rooms frequented by the victim, constantly bombarding the victim with emails etc. Typically, the cyber stalker's victim is new on the web, and inexperienced with the rules of netiquette & internet safety. Their main targets are mostly females, children, emotionally weak or unstable people. It is believed that over 75% of victims are female.
Internet has also provided a medium for the facilitation of crimes like pornography. Besides sending explicit messages via e-mail, SMS and chat, many also morph photographs – placing the victim’s face on another, usually nude body. Female’s photos are downloaded by fake users and again re-posted/uploaded on different websites by creating fake profiles after editing it. Cyber crime is a relatively new concept in India. Though it has become rampant in the past few years, most cases go unreported because people are petrified of adverse publicity. In fact, a senior police officer recently went as far as to say that only one in every 500 cases is reported! It is necessary that culprits must not be allowed to go scot-free, because that is what emboldens them. It has been seen that if the victim shies away, the offender becomes more encouraged to continue. The problem would be solved only when the victimised woman then and there reports the issue or even warns the abuser about taking strong action.
As always, the first cardinal rule to keep yourself safe is to take certain precautions. And second, if you find you have become a victim, don’t hesitate to approach the concerned authorities.
-Abha Khanna Gupta (The writer is a senior Journalist and Social worker)