Cyber crime on the rise in the NE

Cyber crime on the rise in the NE

Section 66 A provides punishment for sending offensive messages through communication service, etc. ( Introduced vide ITAA 2008) Any person who sends, by means of a computer resource or a communication device,- a) any information that is grossly offensive or has menacing character; or b) any information which he knows to be false, but for the purpose of causing annoyance, inconvenience, danger, obstruction, insult, injury, criminal intimidation, enmity, hatred, or ill will, persistently makes by making use of such computer resource or a communication device, c) any electronic mail or electronic mail message for the purpose of causing annoyance or inconvenience or to deceive or to mislead the addressee or recipient about the origin of such messages (Inserted vide ITAA 2008) shall be punishable with imprisonment for a term which may extend to two /three years and with fine.

Recently, the editor of a leading English language daily of Meghalaya received offensive emails from fake email ID which cast aspersions on her character and taunted her repeatedly. The said Editor filed an FIR with the SP East Khasi Hills. The email was traced to a local person who admitted to sending the email because his letter to the editor expressing disgust at Airtel internet services was not published. The letter was not published because the writer did not give his address and contact number both of which are pre-requisites for any letter to be published.  The editor asked the person to give his full address and contact number but was instead heaped with the choices abuses. Later the offender wrote an apology email from his own ID to the editor which the latter rejected as the case is in progress.

Journalists are vulnerable to trolls and threats over email. While many ignore those emails which are not too abusive, many have started approaching the law enforcement agencies for redressal of their grievances. In June this year, a senior journalist of 20 years experience filed a complaint at Vasant Vihar police station. The journalist claimed the Twitter user posted defamatory and sexually explicit tweets about her and Rahul Gandhi from an anonymous twitter handle – @lutyensinsider. Police have registered an FIR under Indian Penal Code's Section 354D (stalking) and said that further investigations are underway.

Christopher Zara writing for The International Business Times says a troll is one who posts a deliberately provocative message to a newsgroup or message board with the intention of causing maximum disruption and argument. Internet trolls take many forms such as a contrarian view, mischief-makers, wisecrackers, spewers of hate. But like it or not, they are a deeply engrained part of the new-media landscape, and in some cases, they're the most interesting thing about it.  But when a troll gets personal and abusive then the red clines clearly must be drawn.

Dr John Dayal filed a complaint with Delhi Police alleging that he received death threats by right-wing activists after tweeting on the arrest of St Xavier's School's principal for molesting two minor students. Dayal writes, "This campaign of vitriolic abuse, vilification and bigotry reached a crescendo on September 12, when a sudden, unprovoked and large-scale attack on me and the members of my community was launched on Twitter by a large number of people. My personal telephone number was posted on Twitter and the world at large was invited to threaten and abuse me on the phone. As soon as my number was released, I began receiving threatening and abusive phone calls. I am not being able to use my mobile phone."

Senior Delhi Police officials said that Dayal has been asked to hand over screenshots of the Twitter posts according to which an FIR would be registered.

Coming closer home the SP of Shillong City Vivek Syiem said cybercrime is on the rise. He says at least two complaints are registered every week. But most complaints relate to money changing hands over the internet where unsuspecting clients/individuals pay money to firms/individuals that are fake and untraceable once the transaction is over. Abuse over email or social media are there, but not very common, he said.  Syiem said that the absence of an International Regulatory Authority on cybercrime makes it difficult to track down IP addresses from where fake emails originate sent. Police have to rely on the goodwill of the country from there the IP address originated.

But the manner in which the Meghalaya Police have tracked down several cases of cybercrime deserves commendation.

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