Mobile Cell Phones And Cyber Crimes In India

HOW SAFE ARE WE ?

N. A. Gupta,

INTRODUCTION :

Telecommunication was introduced in India long back in the year 1882.  There was a mushroom growth of telecommunication after the advent of Internet and Mobile technology in India.  It was on 15th August 1995 when the first mobile telephone service started on a non-commercial basis in India.  On the same day internet was also introduced in this nation.  After the liberation and privatization in this area India didn’t look back, Telecommunication conquered life of citizens of India and in no time India’s Telecommunication Network became the second largest in the world.  In May 2012 there were 929.37 million mobile users in India.  In this dot com era a person is looked with surprise if he is not a mobile user.

IMPACT OF CELL PHONES ON HUMAN LIFE  :

Communication technology has left no aspect of human life untouched.  Even our morning alarm clocks are been replaced by the mobile cell phones.  Technology is constantly bringing advancement in our mobile cell phones.  Mobile cell phones have now become new personal laptops and desktops which are having capacity to store as much data as our laptops and desktops are and in additional they are providing flexibility and portability.  Internet enabled Smart phones, tablets etc… are performing the functions of our computer,  but one vital feature is missing and that is Security.  Rapid growth in the use of internet enabled mobile cell phones allows us to use manage our banking transaction, official and institutional transactions, rapid communication through email or social networks, and many more.  Virtually we can perform the task of a computer on our mobile; this means alike our computer our mobile phone is also vulnerable to the risk of fraud, theft of financial information and identity theft etc..

 

CELL PHONES AN OPEN DOOR FOR CYBER CRIMINALS :

Recent reports have suggested that with the advancement of the telecommunication technology there is increase in cyber crime in the nation.  The technological advancement provided opportunities to the miscreants in the society, who are using technology for their selfish gains.  There are cases where hackers have breached in Nokia’s Symbian, Apple’s iOS and Google’s Android operating system.  Thus to be safe we must be vigilant.  But it is really unfortunate that whenever a discussion about cyber crime ignites, a particular class of the people escapes the discussion saying that; they neither use computers nor they use internet for communication and therefore cyber crime is not a threat for them.  People try to hide their ignorance about cyber crimes on the ground that cannot become its victim, but they have absolutely no idea that knowingly or unknowingly they can be adversely affected by cyber crime.  Every person using an internet, blue tooth or even an infra red enabled cell phone is can easily be fished in the web of cyber criminals.

 

IS CELL PHONE A COMPUTER?  :

The broadest definition of cyber crime that is available is; any crime where computer is used either as a tool or weapon.  In common parlance computer is understood to be a desktop, laptop or a palm top.  But as per Wikipedia: ‘A computer in a general purpose device that can be programmed to carry out a finest set of arithmetic or logical operation.’  Also as per Sec. 2 (i) of The Information Technology Act, 2000: ‘Computer means any electronic, magnetic, optical or other high-speed data processing device or system which performs logical, arithmetic and memory functions by manipulations of electronic, magnetic or optical impulses, and includes all input, output, processing, storage, computer software or communication facilities which are connected or related to the computer in a computer system or computer network.’  This broad definition encompasses every gadget we are using in our day to day life to make our life simpler as a computer.  Mobile cell phones are just one of it.

 

COMMON CYBER CRIMES ASSOCIATED WITH CELL PHONES :

 

(1)            BLUEBUGGING :  As the name suggest this is the attack on the mobile cell phone through Bluetooth.  Bluetooth is not a stranger term today.  Almost every mobile cell phone is embedded with Bluetooth technology.  We use Bluetooth for sharing photos, audio or video files etc…  Bluebugging allows the hacker to take over complete control over your mobile phone.  The victim cannot even realise that his mobile cell phone is attacked, because even if the Bluetooth device is disabled or turned off the mobile cell phone can be victim of this attack.  Bluebugging allows the hacker to read the information in your mobile cell phone, he can access calendar, address book etc…,  he can make calls and even send messages.  The hacker can even listen to the conversation of your mobile phone.  Every time you receive a call on your infected mobile cell phone the call is also forwarded to the hacker and he can listen the conversation.  In Bluesnarfing the hacker can commit theft of all the data and information in your mobile phone using his laptop.

 

(2)            VISHING  :   This is a tool for committing financial crime by using mobile.  Use of mobile making is increased on the mobile phones.  Mobile phones are now used for online shopping and managing banking transactions.  This has made mobile cell phone an easy victim of vishing. Motive of the hacker is to get easy money.  These attacks are similar to  phishing attacks.  It includes identity theft like credit cards numbers and other secret information.  Scammer calls the victim and by use of his voice tries to extract the confidential information of the victim.  Therefore every mobile user must be vigilant towards these fooling calls.  We should not be carried away by the lucrative offers or scheme the scammer offers us.

 

(3)            MALWARE This is one of the biggest threat to mobile cell phones.  It is a program (software) designed to perform malicious activities in the device infected.  Malware enters the mobile cell phone of victim through sms, file transfer, downloading programs from internet  etc… Malware enters and functions in the victim’s mobile without his knowledge and perform several malicious activities like usage of talk time, etc…

 

(4)            SMISHING  :  In this E-age the term SMS do not need any introduction.  It signifies Short Message Service.  It is a common term for sharing messages on mobile phone.  This service is the one of the most used service on mobile phones.  Hence criminals are targeting it as a tool to satisfy their greed.  Smishing is an security attack in which the user is sent an SMS posing as a lucrative service that indulges them into exposing their personal information which is later misused.  This is also used for introducing a malware in the cell phone of the user.  These are alike Phishing and Vishing attacks in which personal confidential information is gained and later misused.  In these attacks the criminal obtains the Internet Banking passwords, Credit Card details, email id and password, etc…

 

MCELL PHONES AND THE INFORMATION TECHNOLOGY ACT, 2000 :

As per definition of term Computers, as provided by Sec. 2(i) of the I.T. Act,  mobile phones are encompassed in the definition of a Computer.  Mobile phones are been used for exchange of information.  As per Sec. 2(r) of the I. T. Act, “electronic form“, with reference to information, means any information generated, sent, received or stored in media, magnetic, optical, computer memory, micro film, computer generated micro fiche or similar device….  ….. Thus any information shared on the mobile phone though it may be talks, text or entry of information they are encompassed in the purview of the I. T. Act.

Section 66A of The I. T. Act, provides for punishment for sending offensive messages through communication service, etc…  This provision of Law is parallel provision to Sec. 294, 504, 506, 507 & 509  of Indian Penal Code, 1860, only difference is that in this provisions of law the criminal uses his cell phone or computer to express the offensive feeling.  The punishment prescribed under this section is imprisonment for a term which may extend to three years and with fine.  This section is embedded with an explanation which states that for the purpose of this section, terms electronic mail and electronic mail message means a message or information created or transmitted or received on a computer, computer system, computer resource or communication device including attachments in text, image, audio, video and any other electronic record, which may be transmitted with the message.  This explanation widens the scope of this section and assures that the criminal cannot escape his liability.

Newly added provision in the I. T. Act in the form of Section 67(A) provides for punishment for publishing or transmitting of material containing sexually explicit act, etc., in electronic form.  This is most important for teenagers.  The trends of sharing pornography material on cell phones are on increase.  The incident of indecent MMS is not unknown to anyone.  This provision of law books those who publishes or transmits or causes to be published or transmitted in the electronic form any material which contains sexually explicit act or conduct.  This provision of law is analogous to provisions of Sec. 292 and 292-A of the Indian Penal Code, 1860.  It provides for a punishment on first conviction for imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to five years and with fine which may extend to ten lakh rupees.  In the even to second or subsequent conviction for imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to seven years and also with fine which may extend to ten lakh rupees.

This provision of Law elaborates Section 67 which provides for punishment for publishing or transmitting obscene material in electronic form. —Whoever publishes or transmits or causes to be published or transmitted in the electronic form, any material which is lascivious or appeals to the prurient interest or if its effect is such as to tend to deprave and corrupt persons who are likely, having regard to all relevant circumstances, to read, see or hear the matter contained or embodied in it, shall be punished on first conviction with imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to three years and with fine which may extend to five lakh rupees and in the event of second or subsequent conviction with imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to five years and also with fine which may extend to ten lakh rupees. ]

CONCLUSION :

A mobile phone is just like a match stick.  A match stick can ignite a lamp and can also ablaze a house.  Choice is of the person having it.  Alike is with mobile technology you can use it to make you life simpler, or for satisfying you selfish gain by misusing it.  As we are careful while using match stick in home, and keep it in safe place out of the reach of children.  A mobile phone also should be used with caution.  Your ignorance can bring you in trouble.  People must be vigilant and educated towards the game of dirty business played on mobile phones.  A certain class of people are exploiting the technology.  All the glitters is never gold must be remembered by mobile users.  People must be sensitive towards suspicious or malicious information received on their mobile phones.  They shall forthwith report against it.  This will ensure not only their security but security of others too.  Care also should be taken when we are shopping online; know as much as you can about the site, its policies and procedures.  Never share our personal information with stranger on mobile phones.  Also no secret information like passwords, PIN, credit card details etc… must be stored on the mobile phone.  Precaution is the only means to stay secured in this E-World.  In this E-world one must never forget the words of Fransis Bacon that Knowledge is Power,  because in the world of computers; more you know about computers, the more you will know that you don’t know !!!   Thus with following tips for securing your cell phone I end up this article:

 

TIPS  FOR  SECURING  CELL PHONES

  • Turn on Blue Tooth or enable Internet only when required.
  • Do turn off the wireless connections when not needed.
  • Regularly update the cell phone software.
  • Install latest Anti Virus Software, and keep it updated.
  • Use strong passwords to lock your cell phone.
  • Never share personal information with stranger
  • Never store personal banking details in cell phones.
  • Be suspicious while entertaining strangers on social networking website.
  • Consider disabling the geo-tagging feature on your phone.
  • If you are connected to a public wifi, don’t access sites where
  • you need to enter your password, credit card information etc.
  • While banking and shopping online, ensure the sites are
  • https or shttp.
  • Always keep in mind that you cell phone is a device that contains a lot of your personal
    • information.  Keep it safe and secure.

Examination of Section 66A of the Information Technology Act

Technology changes the dimension of the society. Obscenity in electronic form, morphing  of images, defamation, text bullying, stalking, spamming, unsolicited emails, criminal intimidation, extortion, public mischief, insult, threat to cause injury have penetrated in this modern society with the help of cyber technology. Under this back drop the legislative body incorporated section 66 A under the Information Technology Act. The Information Technology Act, 2000 was amended in 2008. The amended Act which received the assent of the President on February 5, 2009, contains section 66A.

Section 66 A of the Information Technology Act, 2000 runs as under:

“66A. Punishment for sending offensive messages through communication device, etc.-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 by making use of such computer resource or a communication device; or

(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,

shall be punishable with imprisonment for a term which may extend to three years and with fine.

Explanation.— For the purpose of this section, terms “Electronic mail” and “Electronic Mail Message” means a message or information created or transmitted or received on a computer, computer system, computer resource or communication device including attachments in text, images, audio, video and any other electronic record, which may be transmitted with the message.”

 

Area of controversy:

Free speech is the life blood of a democracy. Now the free speech is becoming un-free due to vague section in Information Technology Act.  Section 66 (A) provides for a jail term of up to three years for anyone who uses a computer or any other communication device to send information that is grossly offensive, menacing’, causes annoyance or hatred. Section 66(A) fails to define the term grossly offensive and annoyance. Under the banner of the word grossly offensive and causes annoyance police can arrest any person because it gives the police unfetter power to arrest anyone in this modern technological age. It is very true that the mental ability of tolerance and annoyance differ person to person, place to place and time to time. Different persons with different mental structure have their different level of annoyance.An April Fool joke ca not also get exemption under Section 66A of the Information Technology Act.

Under this purview it can be said that Section 66 is vague and hence violative of Art 14 of the Constitution. Unfetter power of the police affects the very right of freedom of speech and expression under Article 19(1)(a) of the Constitution. Threat to public order, defamation, incitement to offence, contravening decency and morality, committing contempt of court, etc. are listed in Article 19(2) as grounds to limit freedom but not the matter of grossly offensive and annoyance, menacing character or causing inconvenience, danger, obstruction or insult. Right to life and personal liberty is a guaranteed right under Article 21 of the Constitution and by the virtue of the Section 66A the police gets the unfetter power to arrest any person to consider a tweet or blog ‘grossly offensive’ or ‘of menacing character’, or causing ‘inconvenience, annoyance, danger, obstruction or insult’, is also a great threat to Article 21.

 

Conclusion:

From the above noted observation it can be said that Section 66A of the Information Technology Act is in conflict with Article 14,19(1)(a) and 21 of the Constitution as because Section 66A  absolutely  provides the police with the power to arrest any person under the banner of the word ‘grossly offensive’ or ‘of menacing character’, or causing ‘inconvenience, annoyance, danger, obstruction or insult’ after considering  e-mails, SMSes, blog, vblog, tweets, image, sound(VoIP). It is the need of the hour to amend this draconian section of the Information Technology Act.

Advertisement and freedom of speech

“Give me the liberty to know, to utter, and to argue freely according to conscience, above all liberties”. – John Milton

The essence of free speech is the ability to think and speak freely and to obtain information from others through publications and public discourse without fear of retribution, restriction, or repression by the government. Advertising is a form of communication for marketing and used to encourage orpersuade an audience (viewers, readers or listeners; sometimes a specific group) to continue or take some new action. Most commonly, the desired result is to drive consumer behaviour with respect to a commercial offering, although political and ideological advertising is also common.

In John W. Rast v. Van Deman& Lewis Company, Mr. Justice Mckenna, dealing with advertisements said:-

“Advertising is merely identification and description, apprising of quality and place. It has no other object than to draw attention to the article to be sold and the acquisition of the article to be sold constitutes the only inducement to its purchase.”above advertisement takes the same attributes as the object it seeks to promote or bring to the notice of the public to be used by it. Examples can be multiplied which would show that advertisement dealing with trade and business has relation with the item “business or trade” and not with “freedom of speech”.

 

The principles, as stated in the case of Reckitt & Coleman of India Ltd v Kiwi TTKLtd (63 (1996) DLT 29), are as follows:

a) An advertisement can declare that theadvertised goods are the best in theworld, even though this declaration isuntrue;

b) An advertisement can state that theadvertised goods are better than thoseof competitors, even if this statement isuntrue;

c) An advertisement can compare theadvertised goods with those ofcompetitors;

d) An advertisement cannot, while statingthat the advertised goods are betterthan those of a competitor, state thatthe competitor’s products are bad, as this would be defamation;

e) In a case of defamation, damages can beclaimed. The court can also grant aninjunction against repetition of the defamatory action.

 

Today, new era of advertising has evolved, which is both cost-effective as well as efficient at global level. Online advertising is the fastest growing medium of advertising that has proven its effectiveness and stability in the advertising world.In a developing economy like India, advertising has a profound impact on how people understand life, the world and themselves, especially with regard to their values, choices and behaviour. Advertising is considered to be the cornerstone of our socio-economic system and may be viewed as the lifeline of free media, paying costs and making media widely accessible. Advertising agencies perform deep research before they create and feature the advertisement for the targeted audience. Few platforms dominated the advertising market and offered an opportunity for the advertisers to pass on the message to people, and market their products.

Freedom to speak freely, without limitation or regulation is termed as the Freedom of Speech. Freedom of Expression implies not only the freedom to speak but also to distribute and access of the information through various media modes. In the advertising and media industry, a self-regulatory guideline of code and conduct is a self-imposed discipline, whose primary objective is to monitor and prescribe the advertising standards for public interest. This system complements government legislation and regulations as well. As the categories of sensitive advertisers are constantly increasing; consumer groups, governments and regulators became more cautious to take lively interest. Monitoring and voluntary self-regulations in advertising, allow reasonable freedom of speech and expression. The members of Communication Council should be aware about the importance of self-regulation.

In many countries, the government controls media so that nobody can publish or broadcast anything that the government considers harmful, immoral or threatening for the stability of the country. Censorship is regulated by a particular body or the government that retains the power base, on the media content.

Right To Advertisement As A Part Of Freedom Of Speech And Expression

Advertising which is no more than a commercial transaction, is nonetheless dissemination of information regarding the product advertised. Public at large is benefitted by the information made available through the advertisement. In a democratic economy free flow ofcommercial information is indispensable. There cannot be honest and economical marketing by the public at large without being educated by the information disseminated through advertisements. The economic system in a democracy would be handicapped without there being freedom of “commercial speech” and when examined from another angle, the public at large has a right to receive the “Commercial speech”. Article (19) (1) (a) not only guarantees freedom of speech and expression, it also protects the rights of an individual to listen, read and receive the said speech. So far as the economic needs of a citizen are concerned, their fulfilment has to be guided by the information disseminated through the advertisements. An advertisement giving information regarding a life saving drug may be of much more importance to general public than to the advertiser who may be having purely a trade consideration.

An advertisement is no doubt a form of speech but its true character is reflected by the object for the promotion of which it is employed. It assumes the attributes and elements of the activity under Article 19(1) which it seeks to aid by bringing it to the notice of the public. When it takes the form of a commercial advertisement which has an element of trade or commerce it no longer falls within the concept of freedom of speech for the object is not propagation of ideas ‘ social, political or economic or furtherance of literature or human thought; but as in the present case the commendation of the efficacy, value and importance in treatment of particular diseases by certain drugs and medicines. In such a case, advertisement is a part of business.

It was asserted in HamdardDawakhana (WAKF) LalKuan, Delhi and Another v Union of India, [SCR 1960 (2) 671]that an advertisement is no doubt a form of speech but its true character is reflected by the object for the promotion of which it is employed. It assumes the attributes and elements of the activity under Art. 19(1) which it seeks to aid by bringing it to the notice of the public.

It allows us to freely express our ideas and thoughts through any medium such as print, visual, and voice. One can use any communication medium of visual representation such as signs, pictures, or movies. Freedom of speech would amount to nothing if it were not possible to propagate the ideas. Thus, the freedom of publication is also covered under freedom of speech. Freedom of speech serves 4 purposes:

a) Allows an individual to attain self fulfillment.

b) Assists in the discovery of truth.

c) It strengthens the capacity of a person to make decisions.

d) It facilitates a balance between stability and social change.

 

This right is not only about communicating your ideas to others but also about being able to publish and propagate other people’s views as well. Thus, freedom of speech and expression is linked to the people’s right to know. Freedom of speech and expression is a broad term and encompasses several things Freedom of speech is guaranteed not only by the constitution or statutes of various states but also by various international conventions like Universal Declaration of Human Rights, European convention on Human Rights and fundamental freedoms, International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights etc. These declarations expressly talk about protection of freedom of speech and expression.

Right to know, to information is other facet of freedom of speech. The right to know, to receive and to impart information has been recognized within the right to freedom of speech and expression. A citizen has a fundamental right to use the best means of imparting and receiving information and as such to have an access to telecasting for the purpose. In State of Uttar Pradesh v. Raj Narain it was observed that, “The people of this country have a right to know every public act by their public functionaries. The right to know is derived from the concept of freedom of speech.” Through advertisements, not only is the right to know is assured but it is directly proportional to the advertisers freedom of speech and expression. Advertisements maintain competition in the market and help in educating the public.

In Reliance Petrochemicals Ltd v. Indian Express it has been observed by the bench deciding the case that “We must remember that people at large have a right to know in order to be able to take part in a participatory development in the industrial life and democracy. Right to know is a basic right which citizens of a free country aspire in the broader horizon of the right to live n this age on our land under Art. 21 of the Constitution.”

Since, advertising is a form of communication for marketing and is used to encourage or persuade audience. It is nonetheless dissemination of information regarding the product advertised and the public at large is benefitted by the information made available through the advertisement. In a democratic economy free flow of commercial information is indispensable. There cannot be honest and economical marketing by the public at large without being educated by the information disseminated through advertisements.

It is necessary to maintain and preserve freedom of speech and expression in a democracy, so also it is necessary to place some restrictions on this freedom for the maintenance of social order, because no freedom can be absolute or completely unrestricted. Accordingly, under Article 19(2) of the Constitution of India, the State may make a law imposing “reasonable restrictions” on the exercise of the right to freedom of speech and expression “in the interest of” the public on the following grounds:

a) Security of State

b) Friendly relations with foreign states

c) Public Order

d) Decency or morality

e) Contempt of Court

f) Defamation

g) Incitement to an offence Sovereignty and integrity of India.

 

However, advertisers often view these rules and regulations as violating their right to freedom of speech. Some ads, in particular, were considered derogatory and banned by the government, such as:

  •  A deodorant advertisement that showed a man accompanied by scantily clad women was banned by the government after several complaints were received from viewers about the advertisement being offensive to family viewers.
  • A soft drink advertisement that showed a child bringing the drink for the Indian cricket players was banned after complaints from child labor activists.
  • Advertisements of two underwear ads were banned due to vulgarity and indecency. Objectionable content in ad is usually a reason for taking it off channels.

When RESTRICTIONS:

As stated previously, no right can be absolute and without restrictions or else they might not act in the best interest of the public. Advertisement has been considered as an act of communication or expressing one’s views but the said right may be exploited by the advertisers if not guarded. Restrictions on advertisements might be imposed when the advertiser indulges in the following acts, for it is necessary for the government/the appropriate authorities to intervene if such advertisements are detrimental to the interests of the public at large:

 1. Deception– exists when an advertisement is introduced into the perceptual process of the audience in such a way that the output of that perceptual process differs from the reality of the situation. It includes a misrepresentation, omission or a practice that is likely to mislead. These may include the following:

  • Violates Consumers’ Right to Information: Use of untrue paid testimonials to convince buyers, quoting misleading prices, disparaging a rival product in a misleading manner are some examples of deception. Advertisers of anti- aging creams, complexion improving creams, weight loss programs, anti-dandruff shampoos, and manufacturers of vitamins or dietary supplements are usually guilty of making exaggerated product claims. Some of the examples of advertisements in this category are:

“A fairness cream is advertised with the claim that its user will get a fair complexion within a month” is deceptive in nature  as it deceives/misleads the public into believing such facts which might not take place.

  • Violates Consumers’ Right to Safety: When an advertisement for cooking oil says that using the said oil frees the user from heart problems, and then such an advertisement is misrepresenting the facts. Companies advertise products highlighting health cures and drugs of questionable efficacy and health gadgets of unknown values.
  • Violates Consumers’ Right to Choice: When material facts which are likely to influence buying decisions are not disclosed the advertisement becomes deceptive. In several advertisements it is stated that ‘conditions apply’ but these conditions are not stated. Not disclosing material facts amounts to deception. For example, the recent print ad for Videocon mentions a 1-ton split-AC available for Rs. 15,990/, a very attractive offer. But there is a small asterisk which mentions three things in small font, such as “Conditions apply”, “Prices valid in Delhi and NCR under exchange only”.

2. Bait advertising :It means taking advantage of consumer psychology and depriving consumers of a choice. For example, a consumer is lured into a retail outlet by an advertisement for a low cost item and then is sold a higher priced version or to be defective. Once the consumer enters the store, he or she is pressured to purchase another more expensive item. On visiting such stores, one finds a handful of outdated products on the discount announced and other better products as ‘fresh stock’.

3. Advertising of harmful products: Advertising is not restricted to products that are good for people. According to law in India advertisements for cigarettes, liquor, paan masala, products that are harmful to the public continue to find a place despite the ban imposed by the government in private channels, cable, and through the use of surrogates.

4. Puffery/Fraudulation: Very often we hear that advertisement exaggerates about the product qualities. Now a days ‘puffery’ i.e. “metaphor of idea” forms to be main element in advertising. On the one hand critics accuse it, while on the other defenders i.e. advertisers and advertising professionals opined it as a helping agent to differentiate their brands from the competitors. Puffery is considered to be an ‘opinion’ and not a ‘factual information’. Advertisers claim that the consumers are intelligent enough to distinguish between truth and exaggeration. Moreover they are not blindly going to believe everything as such presented in an advertisement.

5. For a better understanding of the above and relationship between commercial advertisement and freedom of speech and expression, the remarks made by the Hon’ble judge in Colgate Palmolive (India) Limited v Anchor Health & Beauty Care Private Limited (Case (2008) 7 MLJ 1119) might be of utmost relevance: it was heldthat false claims by traders about the superiority of their products, either directly or by comparing them against the products of their rivals, were not permissible. Recognizing the right of producers to puff their own products even with untrue claims, but without denigrating or slandering each other’s products, would be to ‘de-recognize’ the rights of the consumers guaranteed under the Consumer Protection Act 1986.”

To permit two rival traders to indulge in puffery, without denigrating each other’s products, would benefit both of them, but would leave the consumer helpless. If on the other hand, the falsity of the claim of a trader about the quality and utility value of his product is exposed by his rival, the consumer stands to benefit by the knowledge derived out of such exposure. After all, in a free market economy, the products will find their place, as water would find its level, provided the consumers are well informed. Consumer education, in a country with limited resources and a low literacy level, is possible only by allowing a free play for the trade rivals in the advertising arena, so that each exposes the other and the consumer thereby derives a fringe benefit.

Notably, the court found to be permissible advertisements which “tend to enlighten the consumer, either by exposing the falsity or misleading nature of the claim made by the trade rival or by presenting a comparison of the merits (or demerits) of their respective products”. Interpreting such advertisements to be in the ‘public good’, the court cited two instances as an exception to this – namely, if an advertisement is motivated by malice, and if it is false. The court held that this sort of advertising would benefit society because competitors are naturally better equipped to expose a rival’s untrue claims.

The court also held that the benefit to society from such an exposure would “outweigh the loss of business for the person affected”. This observation was based on the court’s assumption that comparative advertising, even if it did not amount to a disparagement of other goods, could result in consumers being misled.

The Court in HamdardDawakhana (WAKF) LalKuan, Delhi v Union of Indiaprimarily relied on the judgment of the United States Supreme Court in Valentine v Chrestensen for the proposition that “purely commercial advertising” is not protected by Article 19(1) (a) of the Constitution. As also in Bigelow v Virginia,421 U.S. 804 the United States Supreme Court reversed the conviction of a Virginia newspaper editor who had been found guilty of publishing an advertisement which offered assistance to women seeking abortion. Abortion was illegal in Virginia in 1971 when the advertisement was published. The women Pavilion, a New York group, urged women who wanted an abortion to come to New York. Blackmun, J. analysing earlier judgments of the Court observed that speech does not lose the protection of the First Amendment merely because it appears in the form of a commercial advertisement.

Laws Imposing Restrictions On Advertising:

1. Consumer Protection Act– This statute provides for the establishment of a Central Consumer Protection Council with the object of promotion and protection of the rights of the consumer, including protection against unfair trade practices. The Act also empowers the District Forum to take measures to discontinue the unfair trade practices. The Forum also has the power to issue corrective advertisements to neutralize the effect of a misleading advertisement. India does have other legislations that regulate unfair trade practices, in addition to the Consumer Protection Act.

2. The Monopolies and Restrictive Trade Practice act, 1969: It had been the most effective Act in the eighties and nineties to regulate undesirable advertising. In the year 1984, the government brought, through an amendment, “unfair trade practices” under the purview of the MRTP Commission and the Office of the Director General (Investigation and Registration). However, this Act is being replaced by the Competition Act, 2002 but the cases pending under the MRTP Commission are still being heard. Moreover, a Competition Commission has been set up under the Competition Act to deal with monopolies and restrictive trade practices. The complaints pertaining to unfair trade practices are still being handled by the MRTP Commission or the consumer courts. The MRTP Act has been very effective in hauling a number of advertisers to stop advertisements which are prejudicial to consumer interest through its ‘cease and desist orders’.

3. Information Technology Act, 2000 (IT Act): The IT Act makes the publication and transmission in electronic form of material which is lascivious or appeals to the prurient interest or it its effect is such as to tend to deprave and corrupt persons who arelikely, having regard to all relevant circumstances, to read, see or hear the matter contained or embodied in it, punishable with imprisonment and fine. The IT Act applies to any offence committed by any person outside India, if it involves a computer, computer system or computer network located in India. The offences under the IT Act are punishable with imprisonment and/or fine.

4. Indian Penal Code, 1860 (IPC): The IPC makes it a punishable offence to advertise any obscene publication or its distribution, sale, hire or circulation. It is also an offence under IPC to publish advertisements relating to any lottery which is not a state lottery or which is not authorized by the State Government. The IPC prohibits the sale, distribution, public exhibition or circulation of any obscene book, pamphlet, paper, drawing, painting, representation, figure or any other obscene object.

5. The Cigarettes and other Tobacco Products (Prohibition of Advertisement and Regulation of Trade and Commerce, Production, Supply and Distribution) Act, 2003 (CTPA): The CTPA prohibits advertisement of cigarettes and other tobacco products which, directly or indirectly, suggest or promote the use or consumption of cigarettes or any other tobacco products, by any person who is either engaged in the production, supply or distribution of such products or by a person having control over a medium who causes such advertisements to be advertised through that medium or by a person who takes part in such advertisement.

6. The Drugs and Magic Remedies (Objectionable Advertisements) Act : This statute prohibits advertisements of drugs for certain purposes and of treatment of certain diseases and disorders. It also prohibits misleading advertisements relating to drugs and advertisements of magical remedies for the treatment of certain diseases and disorders. Under this Act, “advertisement” includes any notice, circular, label, wrapper or other document and any announcement made orally or by means of producing or transmitting light, sound or smoke.

7. The Emblems and Names (Prevention of Improper Use) Act, 1950: This statute prohibits the use, for professional or commercial purposes, of select emblems and names of national or international significance. An advertiser who makes commercial use of such emblems and names would be liable under this statute

 8. SEBI (Mutual Funds Regulation), 1996: SEBI Guidelines for Advertisements by Mutual Funds – the Guidelines list out detailed requirements for advertisements by Mutual Funds. The guidelines apply to all forms of advertisements, communications, released in any form and through any media including websites. It defines an “advertisement” as any material published or designed to be published on which a mutual fund has no control over the audience and which is broadly distributed.

9. The Prenatal Diagnostic Techniques (Regulation and Prevention of Misuse) Act, 1994: This statute prohibits advertisements relating to predetermination of sex.

10.The Transplantation of Human Organs Act, 1994: This statute makes it a punishable offence to issue advertisements inviting persons to supply, for payment a human organ.

 

COMMERCIAL ADVERTISEMENT :

 

HamdardDawakhana (WAKF) LalKuan, Delhi v. Union of India, [SCR 1960 (2) 671] – The Court in this case dealt with advertising of prohibited drugs and commodities. The Court was principally dealing with the right to advertise prohibited drugs, to prevent self-medication and self-treatment. It is in no doubt true that some of the observations referred to above go beyond the needs of the case and tend to affect the right to publish all commercial advertisements. A Constitution Bench of this Court held that an advertisement is no doubt a form of speech but its true character is reflected by the object for the promotion of which it is employed. It assumes the attributes and elements of the activity under Art. 19(1) which it seeks to aid by bringing it to the notice of the public.

When it takes the form of a commercial advertisement which has an element of trade or commerce it no longer falls within the concept of freedom of speech for the object is not propagation of ideas social, political or economic or furtherance of literature or human thought; but as in the present case the commendation of the efficacy, value and importance in treatment of particular diseases by certain drugs and medicines. In such a case, advertisement is a part of business and it was being used for the purpose of furthering the business of the petitioners and had no relationship with what may be called the essential concept of the freedom of speech. It cannot be said that the right to publish and distribute commercial advertisements advertising an individual’s personal business is a part of freedom of speech guaranteed by the Constitution.

The Court came to the conclusion that the sale of prohibited drugs was not in the interest of the general public and as such “could not be a speech” within the meaning of freedom of speech and expression under Article 19(1) (a) of the Constitution. The Court further held in the said case that an advertisement is no doubt a form of speech but its true character is reflected by the object for the promotion of which it is employed.

HamdardDawakhana’s case was considered by this Court in Indian Express Newspapers (Bombay) Private Ltd. &Ors. etc. etc. vs. Union of India, 1985(2) SCR 287 – herein, the Parliament of India enacted a statute that was aimed at controlling advertisements of drugs in some specified cases [Drugs and Magic Remedies (ObjectionableAdvertisements) Act (1954)]. Purpose of the act was to prevent ‘objectionable’ and‘unethical’ advertisements in order to discourage self-medication and self treatment. Theconstitutionality of this Act was challenged by the plaintiff on the grounds that itrestricted his right to freedom of speech and expression unfairly, in contravention of Arts19(1)(a) and Art 19(2) and also that it violated his rights to carry on business because therestrictions were allegedly in contravention of Art 19(1)(g) .

The Judgment: The Bench that decided the case acknowledge that advertisement was no doubt a form of speech but that “it’s true character is detected by the object for the promotion of which it is employed. The judgment acknowledged that advertisements acquire some, but notall, elements of speech or expression intended for protection by Art 19(1)(a) by bringing to the notice of the public”.

The activity or product or service that it seeks to publicize [the right to disseminate and receive information that Art 19(1)(a) recognizes in certain cases]. But the judgment goes onto to state that the content and intent of the advertisement is extremely important when deciding whether it deserves protection under Arts 19(1)(a) and 19(2).When it (advertisement)takes the form of a commercial advertisement which has an element of trade and commerce, it no longer falls within the concept of freedom of speech, for the object is not propagation of ideas, social political or economic, or furtherance of literature or human thought, but the commendation of the efficacy , value and importance of certain goods.

This statement forms the crux of the judgment and encapsulates the legal position occupied by commercial speech when it comes to protection under Art 19(1)(a).The judgment iterated that advertisements prohibited by the impugned Act relate to trade and commerce and not the propagation of ideas and that advertising of prohibited drugs and commodities of which the sale is not in the interest of the general public cannot be speech within the meaning of Art 19(1)(a).

The observations in HamdardDawakhana’s case to the effect that advertising by itself would not come within Article 19(1) (a) of the Constitution, were explained by this Court in Indian Express Newspapers’s case in the following words: The main plank of that decision was that the type of advertisement dealt with there did not carry with it the protection of Article 19(1) (a). the court finally opined that all commercial advertisements cannot be denied the protection of Article 19(1) (a) of the Constitution merely because they are issued by businessmen.”

The combined reading of HamdardDawakhana’s case and the Indian Express Newspapers’s case leads us to the conclusion that “commercial speech” cannot be denied the protection of Article 19(1) (a) of the Constitution merely because the same are issued by businessmen. Advertising is considered to be the cornerstone of our economic system. Low prices for consumers are dependent upon mass production, mass production is dependent upon volume sales, and volume sales are dependent upon advertising. Apart from the lifeline of the free economy in a democratic country, advertising can be viewed as the life blood of free media, paying most of the costs and thus making the media widely available. Without advertising, the resources available for expenditure on the “news” would decline, which may lead to an erosion of quality and quantity. The cost of the “news” to the public would increase, thereby restricting its “democratic” availability.

In the case of Secretary, Ministry of Information and Broadcasting v. Cricket Association of Bengal reported in (1995) 5 SCC 161 Supreme Could held that commercial advertisement no doubt is a form of speech but its true character is reflected by the object for promotion of which it is employed. Only when an advertisement is concerned with the expression or prorogation of ideas that it can be said to be related to freedom of expression and speech. The object and purpose for which advertisement is published is the determining factor. When propagation of ideas and thoughts is inconsequential, but the real purpose and object is promotion of sales of goods and services and personal benefit without any social purpose, commercial advertisement cannot have the same decree of constitutional protection as in case of social or political speeches.

The Supreme Court further observed that commercial advertisements helps dissemination of information regarding the product and the public also benefits by the information which is available and honest and economic marketing is protected under Article 19(1)(a). It was observed that said freedom is both for the speaker as well as the recipient of the speech, but an advertisement for a life saving drug may be more important and leads greater public interest than an advertisement for pure trade consideration.

Mahesh Bhatt and anrv. Union Of India, 147 (2008) DLT 561was another landmark judgement on the said point – herein, the Writ Petitions challenged the legality and validity of some of the provisions of the Cigarette and Other Tobacco Products (Prohibition of Advertisement and Regulation of Trade and Commerce, Production, Supply and Distribution) Act, 2003 under which “advertisement” was defined to include any visible representation by way of notice, circular, label, wrapper or other document and also includes any announcement made orally or by any means of producing or transmitting light, sound, smoke or gas.

The court had observed advertisements means to make an announcement and inform public and disseminate information through media and other means, to draw the attention of the public/individual concerned to some information.It was held thatAdvertisements of tobacco products cannot per-se be regarded as immoral. Consumption Consumption of tobacco or smoking is unhealthy but is not immoral. The term ‘decency’ is more expansive in its scope. Commercial advertisements are entitled to limited protection under Article 19(1)(a) of the Constitution if they are in public interest. Commercial advertisements of tobacco products are not expressions protected under Article 19(1)(a) of the Constitution. Commercial advertisements will include indirect or surrogate advertisements which promote and encourage use of tobacco products. However, commercial advertisements are different and distinct from news. The purpose and object behind news is to disseminate information, thoughts and ideas. Pre-dominant nature and character of the article, picture, etc, will determine whether it is a commercial advertisement or a news item/picture.

Curtailment Of The Advertisements

A Constitution Bench held in Sakal Papers (p) Ltd. and others. vs. Union of India, AIR 1962 SC 305 – considered the constitutional validity of the Newspaper (Price and Page) Act, 1956. The said Act empowered the Government to regulate the prices of newspaper in relation to their pages and sizes and to regulate allocation of space for advertisement matter. This Court held that the Act placed restraints on the freedom of press to circulate. This Court further held that the curtailment of the advertisements would bring down the circulation of the newspaper and as such would be hit by Article 19(1) (a) of the Constitution of India.

It was argued before this Court that the publication of advertisements was a trading activity. The diminution of advertisement revenue could not be regarded as an infringement of the right under Article 19(1) (a). It was further argued before this Court that devoting large volume of space to advertisements could not be the lawful exercise of the right of freedom to speech and expression or the right of dissemination of news and views. It was also contended that instead of raising the price of the newspaper the object could be achieved by reducing the advertisements. The Supreme Court ruled that it is not open to the State to curtail the freedom of the press for promoting the general welfare of a section or a group of people unless its action can be justified by a law strictly falling under clause 2 of Article 19. Freedom of the Press cannot be curtailed on such omnibus grounds as in the interest of the general public as in the case of the freedom to carry on trade, business or profession. The restriction must be reasonable. In other words, it must not be excessive or disproportionate. The procedure and the manner of imposition of the restriction also must be just, fair and reasonable.

In Bennett Coleman & Co. &Ors. v. Union of India, 1973 2 SCR 757it was held that the law which lays excessive and prohibitive burden which would restrict the circulation of a newspaper will not be saved by Article 19 (2). If the area of advertisements is restricted, price of paper goes up. If the price goes up circulation will go down.The High Court did not accept the contention that a newspaper has a constitutional right to obtain advertisements from the government. It, however, held that the government cannot exercise this power or privilege to favour one set of newspapers or to show its displeasure against another section of the press. It should not use the power over such large funds in its hands to muzzle the press, or as a weapon to punish newspapers which criticise its policies and actions. It has to use the funds in a reasonable manner consistently with the object of the advertisement viz. to educate and inform the public about the activities of the government.

Advertisement And Freedom Of Speech

It was later held in the landmark case of Tata Press Limited v.Mahanagar Telephone-Nigam, 1995 AIR 2438 that it cannot be said that every advertisement is a matter dealing with freedom of speech nor can it be said that it is an expression of ideas. In every case one has to see what is the nature of the advertisement and what activity falling under Art. 19(1) it seeks to further. The advertisements in the instant case relate to commerce or trade and not to propagating of ideas; and advertising of prohibited drugs or commodities of which the sale is not in the interest of the general public cannot be speech within the meaning of freedom of speech and would not fall within Art. 19(1) (a). The main purpose and true intent and aim, object and scope of the Act is to prevent self- medication or self-treatment and for that purpose advertisements commending certain drugs and medicines have been prohibited.

TheSupreme Court of India gave out one of the most progressive pieces of judicial interpretation: the right to commercial freedom of speech and expression. Of far reaching consequence to media and business, wholly synonymous with the spirit of liberalisation “this great constitutional advance was made on simple and relatively boring facts”.

In a nutshell it means that, for the first time in India, advertising is protected as a form of free speech.

The judgement results from a dispute between Tata Press and MTNL whose monopoly on printing telephone directories under the Indian Telegraph Act, was successfully challenged by Tata’s Yellow Pages.

It was contended that it is the public’s right to receive information by way of advertising implicit in the concept of “free speech and expression” guaranteed under Article 19(1)A of the Constitution. In taking a holistic approach to the issue, Justice Kuldip Singh described the free flow of commercial information as “the cornerstone of our economic system. Low prices for consumers are dependent on mass production (which) is dependent on volume sales (which) is dependent on advertising.”

To safeguard free enterprise, the heart of liberalisation, advertising is vital to both manufacturer and consumer. In fact, Justice Singh goes further in supporting the right of the consumer, ‘the recipient of commercial speech’, with a striking example: “An advertisement giving information regarding a life saving drug may be of much more importance to the general public than to the advertiser who may be having purely a trade consideration Article 19(1) (a) not only guarantees freedom of speech and expression, it also protects the rights of

 

Individuals to listen, read and receive the said speech.”

The judgement is also interpreted “as a resounding victory for the media,” because it dwells at length on the role of “advertising as the life blood of a free media…the newspaper industry obtains 60 to 80 per cent of it’s revenue from advertising.For a democratic press the advertising ‘subsidy’ is crucial. Without advertising,’ the resources available for expenditure on ‘news’ would decline, which may lead to the erosion of quality and quantity. The cost of ‘news’ to the public would increase, thereby restricting it’s ‘democratic’ availability.” “Cutting off advertising is like cutting off the lifeblood of a newspaper and state authorities which have indulged in this form of coercion in the past have been pulled up by the court.” The absolute right of a newspaper to receive advertising “as commercial free speech” is an issue which bears further legislative review in the light of the new law.

Freedom of speech goes to the heart of the natural right of an organised freedom-loving society to “impart and acquire information about that common interest”. If any limitation is placed which results in the society being deprived of such right then no doubt it would fall within the guaranteed freedom under Art. 19(1) (a). But if all it does is that it deprives a trader from commending his wares it would not fall within that term.

 

Misleading & Surrogate Advertising:

The Consumer Protection Act, the advertising Code, the Censor Boardand the working group on Misleading Advertisements set up by the Consumer Affairs, Food and Public Distribution Department, Government of India, have all dealt with the issue of misleading advertisements. The preferred solution is to ask the advertiser to issue a corrective advertisement to neutralize the effect of misleading advertisements. In India, due to severe restrictions on advertising certain products like alcohol, tobacco products, medicines and baby food, a whole genre of misleading / surrogate advertising has emerged. In such advertising, a brand is endorsed using a product different from the actual product being promoted.

Like in the matter of United Breweries Limited v. Mumbai GrahakPanchayat, the matter of debate included the advertisements of Bagpiper Soda. This advertisement was held to be a surrogate advertisement for Bagpiper whiskey.

The National Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission, New Delhi, held that the word “soda” was used in an inconspicuous manner, while the word “Bagpiper” was boldly stated, with the baseline “India’s largest, World’s No. 3”. Advertisements canbe direct and also indirect whereby surrogate or product placement, use or trade name display, techniques are adopted but with the object and purpose of drawing attention to the object of publicity. In the present day context, direct and indirect advertisements are employed to attract attention and interest, make the product known and justify it’s consumption and use. Supply of free medicines to doctors by pharmaceutical companies has been held to be publicity and advertisement.

 

Advertising Regulation in India

The Government of India has not set up a regulatory body in India to regulate advertisements. Depending on the nature of the grievances, the power to regulate advertisements may be exercised by a vast variety of authorities, including the courts, Central and State Governments, tribunalsor the police authorities. In addition to these authorities, is the Press Council of India Act, 1978 which is also empowered to regulate press advertisements. The Council is guided by its “Norms of Journalistic Conduct”. in the regulation of advertisements. The Press Council has the power to hold an inquiry into a complaint against a newspaper and if it finds that the newspaper has violated the standards prescribed by the council, it may warn, admonish or censure the newspaper, the editor or journalist as the case may be.

India however, does have a self regulatory body dealing with both online and other forms of advertising. The Advertising Standards Council of India (ASCI) monitors certain standards and fairness in the domain of advertising. It was established in India in 1985. It is a self regulatory voluntary organization whose role and function of the ASCI is to deal with complaints received from consumers and industry against advertisements which are considered as false, misleading, indecent, illegal, leading to unsafe practices or unfair to competition and in contravention to the advertising codelaid down by the ASCI. While safeguarding consumer interests, ASCI also monitors and guides the commercial communications of practitioners in advertising. The aim of advertisement is to promote sales of products or service by affecting a purchasing decision. Although the benefits of advertising are numerous it is one aspect of marketing that is subjected to a severe criticisms. And now there is a new medium for advertisers to explore, the Internet!

While there may be no specific legislations governing online advertising in India, ASCI does recognize online advertising. ASCI’s Code of advertising and existing statutes provides necessary guidance and arsenal to combat errant advertisers. Finally, guidance may be sought by simplify reading the Terms and Condition’s of the website, the advertiser wants to advertise on. This exercise will avoid any negative repercussions following release of an online advertisement.

CONCLUSION:

Advertising as a “commercial speech” has two facets. Advertising which is no more than a commercial transaction, is nonetheless dissemination of information regarding the product-advertised. Public at large is benefitted by the information made available through the advertisement. In a democratic economy free flow of commercial information is indispensable. There cannot be honest and economical marketing by the public at large without being educated by the information disseminated through advertisements.

The economic system in a democracy would be handicapped without there being freedom of “commercial speech”. In relation to the publication and circulation of newspapers, this Court in Indian Express newspaper’s case, Sakal paper’s case and Bennett Coleman’s case has authoritatively held that any restraint or curtailment of advertisements would affect the fundamental right under Article 19(1) (a) on the aspects of propagation, publication and circulation. Examined from another angle, the public at large has a right to receive the “Commercial speech”. Article (19) (1) (a) not only guarantees freedom of speech and expression, it also protects the rights of an individual to listen, read and receive the said speech. So far as the economic needs of a citizen are concerned, their fulfilment has to be guided by the information disseminated through the advertisements.

The protection of Article 19(1)(a) is available to the speaker as well as to the recipient of the speech. The recipient of “commercial speech” may be having much deeper interest in the advertisement than the businessman who is behind the publication. An advertisement giving information regarding a life saving drug may be of much more importance to general public than to the advertiser who may be having purely a trade consideration.We, therefore, hold that “commercial speech” is a part of the freedom of speech and expression guaranteed under Article 19(1) (a) of the constitution.

 

CYBER CRIMES AND THE LAW

CYBER CRIMES
CYBER CRIMES

In the era of cyber world as the usage of computers became more popular, there was expansion in the growth of technology as well, and the term ‘Cyber’ became more familiar to the people. The evolution of Information Technology (IT) gave birth to the cyber space wherein internet provides equal opportunities to all the people to access any information, data storage, analyse etc. with the use of high technology. Due to increase in the number of netizens, misuse of technology in the cyberspace was clutching up which gave birth to cyber crimes at the domestic and international level as well.

 

Though the word Crime carries its general meaning as “a legal wrong that can be followed by criminal proceedings which may result into punishment” whereas Cyber Crime may be “unlawful acts wherein the computer is either a tool or target or both”.

 

The world 1st computer specific law was enacted in the year 1970 by the German State of Hesse in the form of ‘Data Protection Act, 1970’ with the advancement of cyber technology. With the emergence of technology the misuse of technology has also expanded to its optimum level and then there arises a need of strict statutory laws to regulate the criminal activities in the cyber world and to protect technological advancement system. It is under these circumstances Indian parliament passed its “INFORMATION TECHNOLOGY ACT, 2000” on 17th oct to have its exhaustive law to deal with the technology in the field of e-commerce, e-governance, e-banking as well as penalties and punishments in the field of cyber crimes.

 

  • Cyber Crimes Actually Means: It could be hackers vandalizing your site, viewing confidential information, stealing trade secrets or intellectual property with the use of internet. It can also include ‘denial of services’ and viruses attacks preventing regular traffic from reaching your site. Cyber crimes are not limited to outsiders except in case of viruses and with respect to security related cyber crimes that usually done by the employees of particular company who can easily access the password and data storage of the company for their benefits. Cyber crimes also includes criminal activities done with the use of computers which further perpetuates crimes i.e. financial crimes, sale of illegal articles, pornography, online gambling, intellectual property crime, e-mail, spoofing, forgery, cyber defamation, cyber stalking, unauthorized access to Computer system, theft of information contained in the electronic form, e-mail bombing, physically damaging the computer system etc.
  • Classifications Of Cyber Crimes: Cyber Crimes which are growing day by day, it is very difficult to find out what is actually a cyber crime and what is the conventional crime so to come out of this confusion, cyber crimes can be classified under different categories which are as follows:

1. Cyber Crimes against Persons:

There are certain offences which affects the personality of individuals can be defined as:

  • Harassment via E-Mails: It is very common type of harassment through sending letters, attachments of files & folders i.e. via e-mails. At present harassment is common as usage of social sites i.e. Facebook, Twitter etc. increasing day by day.
  • Cyber-Stalking: It means expressed or implied a physical threat that creates fear through the use to computer technology such as internet, e-mail, phones, text messages, webcam, websites or videos.
  • Dissemination of Obscene Material: It includes Indecent exposure/ Pornography (basically child pornography), hosting of web site containing these prohibited materials. These obscene matters may cause harm to the mind of the adolescent and tend to deprave or corrupt their mind.
  • Defamation: It is an act of imputing any person with intent to lower down the dignity of the person by hacking his mail account and sending some mails with using vulgar language to unknown persons mail account.
  • Hacking: It means unauthorized control/access over computer system and act of hacking completely destroys the whole data as well as computer programmes. Hackers usually hacks telecommunication and mobile network.
  • Cracking: It is amongst the gravest cyber crimes known till date. It is a dreadful feeling to know that a stranger has broken into your computer systems without your knowledge and consent and has tampered with precious confidential data and information.
  • E-Mail Spoofing: A spoofed e-mail may be said to be one, which misrepresents its origin. It shows it’s origin to be different from which actually it originates.
  • SMS Spoofing: Spoofing is a blocking through spam which means the unwanted uninvited messages. Here a offender steals identity of another in the form of mobile phone number and sending SMS via internet and receiver gets the SMS from the mobile phone number of the victim. It is very serious cyber crime against any individual.
  • Carding: It means false ATM cards i.e. Debit and Credit cards used by criminals for their monetary benefits through withdrawing money from the victim’s bank account mala-fidely. There is always unauthorized use of ATM cards in this type of cyber crimes.
  • Cheating & Fraud: It means the person who is doing the act of cyber crime i.e. stealing password and data storage has done it with having guilty mind which leads to fraud and cheating.
  • Child Pornography: It involves the use of computer networks to create, distribute, or access materials that sexually exploit underage children.
  • Assault by Threat: refers to threatening a person with fear for their lives or lives of their families through the use of a computer network i.e. E-mail, videos or phones.

2. Crimes Against Persons Property:

As there is rapid growth in the international trade where businesses and consumers are increasingly using computers to create, transmit and to store information in the electronic form instead of traditional paper documents. There are certain offences which affects persons property which are as follows:

  •  Intellectual Property Crimes: Intellectual property consists of a bundle of rights. Any unlawful act by which the owner is deprived completely or partially of his rights is an offence. The common form of IPR violation may be said to be software piracy, infringement of copyright, trademark, patents, designs and service mark violation, theft of computer source code, etc.
  • Cyber Squatting: It means where two persons claim for the same Domain Name either by claiming that they had registered the name first on by right of using it before the other or using something similar to that previously. For example two similar names i.e. www.yahoo.com and www.yaahoo.com.
  • Cyber Vandalism: Vandalism means deliberately destroying or damaging property of another. Thus cyber vandalism means destroying or damaging the data when a network service is stopped or disrupted. It may include within its purview any kind of physical harm done to the computer of any person. These acts may take the form of the theft of a computer, some part of a computer or a peripheral attached to the computer.
  • Hacking Computer System: Hacktivism attacks those included Famous Twitter, blogging platform by unauthorized access/control over the computer. Due to the hacking activity there will be loss of data as well as computer. Also research especially indicates that those attacks were not mainly intended for financial gain too and to diminish the reputation of particular person or company.
  • Transmitting Virus: Viruses are programs that attach themselves to a computer or a file and then circulate themselves to other files and to other computers on a network. They usually affect the data on a computer, either by altering or deleting it. Worm attacks plays major role in affecting the computerize system of the individuals.
  • Cyber Trespass: It means to access someone’s computer without the right authorization of the owner and does not disturb, alter, misuse, or damage data or system by using wireless internet connection.
  • Internet Time Thefts: Basically, Internet time theft comes under hacking. It is the use by an unauthorised person, of the Internet hours paid for by another person. The person who gets access to someone else’s ISP user ID and password, either by hacking or by gaining access to it by illegal means, uses it to access the Internet without the other person’s knowledge. You can identify time theft if your Internet time has to be recharged often, despite infrequent usage.

3. Cybercrimes Against Government:

There are certain offences done by group of persons intending to threaten the international governments by using internet facilities. It includes:

  •  Cyber Terrorism: Cyber terrorism is a major burning issue in the domestic as well as global concern. The common form of these terrorist attacks on the Internet is by distributed denial of service attacks, hate websites and hate e-mails, attacks on sensitive computer networks etc. Cyber terrorism activities endanger the sovereignty and integrity of the nation.
  • Cyber Warfare: It refers to politically motivated hacking to conduct sabotage and espionage. It is a form of information warfare sometimes seen as analogous to conventional warfare although this analogy is controversial for both its accuracy and its political motivation.
  • Distribution of pirated software: It means distributing pirated software from one computer to another intending to destroy the data and official records of the government.
  • Possession of Unauthorized Information: It is very easy to access any information by the terrorists with the aid of internet and to possess that information for political, religious, social, ideological objectives.

4. Cybercrimes Against Society at large:

An unlawful act done with the intention of causing harm to the cyberspace will affect large number of persons. These offences includes:

  •  Child Pornography: It involves the use of computer networks to create, distribute, or access materials that sexually exploit underage children. It also includes activities concerning indecent exposure and obscenity.
  • Cyber Trafficking: It may be trafficking in drugs, human beings, arms weapons etc. which affects large number of persons. Trafficking in the cyberspace is also a gravest crime.
  • Online Gambling: Online fraud and cheating is one of the most lucrative businesses that are growing today in the cyber space. There are many cases that have come to light are those pertaining to credit card crimes, contractual crimes, offering jobs, etc.
  • Financial Crimes: This type of offence is common as there is rapid growth in the users of networking sites and phone networking where culprit will try to attack by sending bogus mails or messages through internet. Ex: Using credit cards by obtaining password illegally.
  • Forgery: It means to deceive large number of persons by sending threatening mails as online business transactions are becoming the habitual need of today’s life style.

Affects To Whom: Cyber Crimes always affects the companies of any size because almost all the companies gain an online presence and take advantage of the rapid gains in the technology but greater attention to be given to its security risks. In the modern cyber world cyber crimes is the major issue which is affecting individual as well as society at large too.

Need of Cyber Law: information technology has spread throughout the world. The computer is used in each and every sector wherein cyberspace provides equal opportunities to all for economic growth and human development. As the user of cyberspace grows increasingly diverse and the range of online interaction expands, there is expansion in the cyber crimes i.e. breach of online contracts, perpetration of online torts and crimes etc. Due to these consequences there was need to adopt a strict law by the cyber space authority to regulate criminal activities relating to cyber and to provide better administration of justice to the victim of cyber crime. In the modern cyber technology world it is very much necessary to regulate cyber crimes and most importantly cyber law should be made stricter in the case of cyber terrorism and hackers.

Penalty For Damage To Computer System: According to the Section: 43 of ‘Information Technology Act, 2000’ whoever does any act of destroys, deletes, alters and disrupts or causes disruption of any computer with the intention of damaging of the whole data of the computer system without the permission of the owner of the computer, shall be liable to pay fine upto 1crore to the person so affected by way of remedy. According to the Section:43A which is inserted by ‘Information Technology(Amendment) Act, 2008’ where a body corporate is maintaining and protecting the data of the persons as provided by the central government, if there is any negligent act or failure in protecting the data/ information then a body corporate shall be liable to pay compensation to person so affected. And Section 66 deals with ‘hacking with computer system’ and provides for imprisonment up to 3 years or fine, which may extend up to 2 years or both.

 

Case Study-Attacks on Cyberspace: 

  • Worm Attack: The Robert Tappan Morris well Known as First Hacker, Son of former National Security Agency Scientist Robert Morris, was the first person to be prosecuted under the ‘Computer and Fraud Act, 1986’. He has created worm while at Cornell as student claiming that he intended to use the worm to check how large the internet was that time. The worm was uncontrollable due to which around 6000 computer machines were destroyed and many computers were shut down until they had completely malfunctioned. He was ultimately sentenced to three years probation, 400 hours of community service and assessed a fine of $10500. So there must be strict laws to punish the criminals who are involved in cyber crime activities.
  • Hacker Attack: Fred Cohen, a Ph.D. student at the University of Southern California wrote a short program in the year 1983, as an experiment, that could “infect” computers, make copies of itself, and spread from one machine to another. It was beginning & it was hidden inside a larger, legitimate program, which was loaded into a computer on a floppy disk and many computers were sold which can be accommodate at present too. Other computer scientists had warned that computer viruses were possible, but Cohen’s was the first to be documented. A professor of his suggested the name “virus”. Cohen now runs a computer security firm.
  • Internet Hacker: Wang Qun, who was known by the nickname of “playgirl”, was arrested by chinese police in the Hubei province first ever arrest of an internet hacker in China. He was a 19 year old computing student, arrested in connection with the alleged posting of pornographic material on the homepages of several government-run web sites. Wang had openly boasted in internet chat rooms that he had also hacked over 30 other web sites too.

 

Preventive Measures For Cyber Crimes:

Prevention is always better than cure. A netizen should take certain precautions while operating the internet and should follow certain preventive measures for cyber crimes which can be defined as:

  • Identification of exposures through education will assist responsible companies and firms to meet these challenges.
  • One should avoid disclosing any personal information to strangers via e-mail or while chatting.
  • One must avoid sending any photograph to strangers by online as misusing of photograph incidents increasing day by day.
  • An update Anti-virus software to guard against virus attacks should be used by all the netizens and should also keep back up volumes so that one may not suffer data loss in case of virus contamination.
  • A person should never send his credit card number to any site that is not secured, to guard against frauds.
  •  It is always the parents who have to keep a watch on the sites that your children are accessing, to prevent any kind of harassment or depravation in children.
  • Web site owners should watch traffic and check any irregularity on the site. It is the responsibility of the web site owners to adopt some policy for preventing cyber crimes as number of internet users are growing day by day.
  • Web servers running public sites must be physically separately protected from internal corporate network.
  •  It is better to use a security programmes by the body corporate to control information on sites.
  • Strict statutory laws need to be passed by the Legislatures keeping in mind the interest of netizens.
  • IT department should pass certain guidelines and notifications for the protection of computer system and should also bring out with some more strict laws to breakdown the criminal activities relating to cyberspace.
  • As Cyber Crime is the major threat to all the countries worldwide, certain steps should be taken at the international level for preventing the cybercrime.
  • A complete justice must be provided to the victims of cyber crimes by way of compensatory remedy and offenders to be punished with highest type of punishment so that it will anticipate the criminals of cyber crime.

Conclusion:

Since users of computer system and internet are increasing worldwide, where it is easy to access any information easily within a few seconds by using internet which is the medium for huge information and a large base of communications around the world. Certain precautionary measures should be taken by netizens while using the internet which will assist in challenging this major threat Cyber Crime.