Computer Crime Research Center


Cracking cyber crime: Delhi Police at a Net loss

Date: December 28, 2004

With all the marvels of IT, a downside had to come along. Business organisations are busy updating their fire-proofing almost on a monthly basis, official sites keep an eye out for hackers and intelligence agencies hone in on terrorist "chatter" through a web of hundreds of satellites.

It is no surprise that cyber crime would have an impact on city policing. What was perhaps not anticipated was that it would implode through an event like the MMS case. But the unravelling cyber story and the controversial arrest of chief Avnish Bajaj has brought to the fore the menace of cyber crime and its grave implications.
Added to the rising incidence of cyber crime is the fact that the Information Technology Act, 2000 — the law meant for dealing with such situations — is itself ambiguous, if not completely inadequate. This has also opened up several legal and investigative fronts.

Numbers game: Statistics can be, as Benjamin Disraeli once said, "lies and damn lies". They simply don’t tell the the whole story. The Delhi Police have registered only about 50 such cases in Delhi in the past three years. According to experts as well as senior police officers, this had lulled people into a false sense of security. But the recent MMS case has again proved that the netizens and cops alike will continue to be dogged by the bugbear of cyber crime in the near future.

As per a survey conducted by cyber law expert Pavan Duggal, for every 500 incidents of cyber crime in the city only 50 get reported. Out of these, only one gets registered. "Lack of awareness is the main reason for this, as it is not like any other crime which one can report and get registered in the nearest police station. The cyber law states that only an officer of the rank of ACP can either register or investigate such cases," says Duggal.

Concurs deputy commissioner of police (crime) Tejindra Luthra, "Even our information is that a lot of these cases are going unreported. We have also noticed that several cyber crime cases in Delhi pertain to credit card fraud. The credit card companies, however, dissuade the complainant from approaching the police by making good their losses."
Sleazy trend

According to experts, there are three kinds of cyber crime — of a personal nature, those dealing with property and cases pertaining to the nation. In Delhi, almost all the cases reported so far have targeted individuals. This includes cyber stalking, harassment, defamation and morphing. And, in more than 50 per cent of these cases, the victim was a woman.
Many believe that orientation of law enforcing agencies is important for ensuring that more such cases are reported. Out of the eight cases of cyber crime registered this year, only two have been solved. A senior officer cited the example of a case last year in which the seized computers were dumped in a godown where dust settled on them and resulted in their not functioning in the court.

Cops logging in Realising the gravity of the situation, the Delhi Police have now made computer training mandatory for head constables and sub-inspectors. While constables undergo training for nine months, sub-inspectors are trained for two years. The Police Training College in Jharoda Kalan now boasts two specialised computer training centres.
An urgent requirement is to make the concerned laws more attuned to tasks that investigators have to deal with. If the law is implemented literally, even the act of an adult accessing X-rated material over a personal computer may qualify as culpable. Cyber crime is clearly going to test the ingenuity and resourcefulness of the judiciary, legislatures and criminal investigators.
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