The internet, a huge virtual pool of unimaginable amount of information, can easily fit in your palm and can be accessed anywhere, anytime. But sadly, it is not the safest place for a woman. According to the National Crime Records Bureau’s (NCRB) 2017 Annual Report, over 1255 cases of cyber crime took place against women in 2016 alone, the majority of which was done with the intention of causing ‘insult to modesty of women.’ Cyber stalking, cyber harassment, social media trolling, identity theft, etc. are just the tip of the iceberg.
Thousands of cyber crimes are registered every year while thousands go unreported, the reason being a fear of social exclusion. An alarming number of victims are women who don’t want their identity to be smeared due to police proceedings.
The saviour here is the Information Technology Act (IT Act), 2000. This act deals with all kinds of cyber crimes, be it monetary or personal attacks. Though there are not many defined constitutional sections dealing with cyber attacks against women per se, provisions like Section 66 C, 66 D, 66 E and 354 D make sure that the culprit ends up behind bars.
Let’s get familiar with these provisions:
This anti-stalking law prohibits and punishes anyone who repeatedly contacts or attempts to contact a woman despite clear signs of disinterest from her. Such acts can land the stalker in jail for 3 years.
So repeatedly sending friend requests, undesirable DMs and poking over Facebook amounts to a felony, my dear zidDi_aAsHiQ1234.
This provision of the Indian Constitution deals with identity theft cases. Fraudulently using any Unique Identification feature of the victim, including their passwords, can lead to prison time of 3 years with a monetary fine of ₹1 lakh.
And by the way, even touching my mobile phone without my permission is hacking. Are you listening, Mom?
This section of the IT Act, 2000 defines punishment in the cases related to illegal impersonation via any communication device including ‘computer resources.’ Basically, making and operating fake accounts, catfishing and other unsolicited methods of communication over the internet is illegal. The punishment is a jail term which can extend up to 3 years with a fine of ₹1 lakh.
For starters, it’s actually not at all smart for anyone to share their intimate photos with another person. But even if that choice is taken, it’s okay. Section 66 E makes sure that your photos don’t end up in the hands of the people you didn’t mean to share them with. According to this section, whoever “publishes or transmits the image of a private area of any person without his or her consent, under circumstances violating the privacy of that person, shall be punished,” with a maximum jail term of 3 years or a fine of ₹2 lakh, or both.
1) Cyber crimes are inevitable. With unregulated internet access, anybody can do whatever they feel like. But as it is popularly said, “your freedom ends where my nose starts.”
No one has any right to harass you, online or offline.
2) Every district in India has its own cyber police station, dedicated completely to cyber crimes of any kind. They make sure of your anonymity, secrecy and safety.
3) Twitter handle @CyberDost is an innovative initiative by the Ministry of Home Affairs which can guide in cases related to cyber crime and cyber bullying.
I mean, come on! There isn’t an actual masked man sitting behind a load of hacking software trying to share your intimate photos over the internet, in most cases. There is just this dumbass boy-next-door, with a basic computer and internet connectivity. So, as Enrique Iglesias puts it beautifully, you can run, you can hide, but you can’t escape… the cyber police!