Computer Crime Research Center

What's a cyber crime, and what's not

What according to you constitutes a cyber crime? How would you define it? How is it defined under Indian law?

Cybercrime is a generic term that refers to all criminal activities done using the medium of computers, the internet, cyber space and the worldwide web.

There isn't really a fixed definition for cybercrime. The Indian Law has not given any definition to the term ‘cybercrime'. In fact, the Indian Penal Code does not use the term ‘cybercrime' at any point even after its amendment by the Information Technology Act 2000 the Indian Cyberlaw.

On the contrary, it has a separate chapter XI entitled “Offences” in which various cybercrimes have been declared as penal offences punishable with imprisonment and fine. The offences covered under Chapter XI of the Indian Information Technology Act 2000 include:

(i) Tampering with the computer source code or computer source documents


(iii)Publishing, transmitting or causing to be published any information in the electronic form which is lascivious or which appeals to the prurient interest.

(iv)Failure to decrypt information if the same is necessary in the interest of the sovereignty or integrity of India, the security of the state, friendly relations with foreign state, public order or for preventing incitement to the commission of any cognizable offence.

(v)Securing access or attempting to secure access to a protected system.

(vi)Misrepresentation while obtaining, any license to act as a Certifying Authority or a digital signature certificate.

(vii)Breach of confidentiality and privacy

Publication of digital signature certificates which are false in certain particulars

Publication of digital signature certificates for fraudulent purposes.

WHAT ARE the legal drawbacks with regards to cybercrimes being solved in India? What is needed to improve the legal scenario?


There are many drawbacks which prevent cybercrimes from being solved in India. Firstly, most people in India prefer not to report cybercrimes to the law enforcement agenciesbecause they fear it might invite a lot of harassment. Secondly, awareness of cybercrime is extremely low.

Thirdly, the law enforcement agencies in the country are not well equipped and knowledgeable enough about cybercrime.

There is an immense need for training the law enforcement agencies. Very few cities have cybercrime cells. Under the IT Act, the relevant officer entitled to investigate a cybercrime is a deputy superintendent of police, but most DSPs are not well equipped to fight cybercrime.

There is a need for dedicated, continuous, updated training of the law enforcement agencies. There is also a lack of dedicated cybercrime courts in the country where expertise in cybercrime can be utilised.

The problem is that awareness of people about cybercrime is still very low and so we need to take many steps to invigorate the legal scenario. There is a need for a distinct law on cybercrime and appropriate changes should be made in the Indian Penal Code and the the Information Technology Act.

Uniform guidelines on cyber forensic tools and strategies should be circulated among investigating officers of cybercrime in the country. There is also a need to expedite cybercrime trials. We further need to learn constantly from the ever-growing developments in cybercrime all across the world.

At the end of the day, what really is required is training and orientation of the judiciary and the lawyers.

People need to be encouraged to report the matter to the law enforcement agencies with full confidence and trust and without the fear of being harassed.

Further, the law enforcement agencies dealing with cybercrime need to come up with an extremely Net-savvy and friendly image. In fact, it would do India proud if the law enforcement agencies here followed the example set by the Federal Bureau of Investigation in the US and went all out to strengthen the confidence of the people and companies who report cybercrimes to them.

FBI has promised complete secrecy would be maintained about all companies and people who report and assist in the investigation. We require new laws and a pro-active approach of the law enforcement agencies to effectively deal with the menace of cybercrime.

IN YOUR opinion, is the law practical and helpful in helping to solve cybercrime?


There are no straight answers to this question. It is indeed helpful in addressing some cyber crimes, and and in that sense the law is indeed practical.

However, in the areas where the law does not cover some cybercrimes which have already emerged, the law is of no assistance or help whatsoever.

The aw enforcement agencies have been facing tremendous problems trying to cope with the challenges of emerging cybercrime within the ambit of the Indian Penal Code, even if a liberal interpretation of it is taken.

However, it is important to note that the law does not help in solving cybercrimes. It only prescribes punishments of various acts of cybercrimes.

These acts are made punishable by imprisonment ranging from 3 years till 10 years and fine range of up to Rs 2 lakh. In other cases, the Indian cyberlaw has not prescribed punishments but has made these acts a ground for claiming compensation from the perpetrator of those acts.

For example, if a computer virus is released and any damage caused, the cybercrime is punishable with imprisonment and fine. On the contrary, it can be made a ground for seeking damages up to Rs. 1 crore against the perpetrator, provided his identity is known.

As far as the issue of solving cybercrime goes, the onus lies with the law enforcement agencies and their will to do so. It is important to know that by and large, they are not well equipped enough to deal with cybercrimes and they do not possess the latest forensic tools.

If our law enforcement agencies did have the requisite tools and the will, their success rate would indeed be better.


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