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Cybercrime – an inevitable evil

Technology has made us a global community in the literal sense of the term. Mankind now has a completely integrated information marketplace capable of moving ideas to any place on this planet in minutes. Ideas will flee from manipulation or onerous regulation of its value or use and no government can restrain it for long.

Human experience has shown that every technological change brings with it some unforeseen problems, taking advantage of which the law breakers explore new techniques to perpetrate their criminal activities. Internet is one such grey area, which has given rise to the menace of cybercrimes. The computer based global communication system has crossed the territorial borders thus creating a distinct field for online activity warranting global attention.

As a saying in criminology goes – “a crime will happen where and only when the opportunity avails itself.” Until recently, we were aware of only traditional types of crimes like murder, rape, theft, extortion, robbery, dacoity etc. But now with the development and advancement of science and technology there came into existence machines like computers and facilities like internet. The internet has opened up a whole new virtual heaven for the people good and bad, clever and naive to enter and interact with lot of diverse cultures and sub-cultures, geography and demographics being no bar. The very same virtues of internet when gone in wrong hands or when exploited by people with dirty minds and malicious intentions, make it a virtual hell. Stories of copyright theft, hacking and cracking, virus attacks and plain hoaxes etc. have mounted up in the last few years. It is fascinating to study cyber offences like cyber hacking, cyber fraud, cyber pornography, cyber terrorism, cyber stalking, cyber ragging etc. and also the European, UK and Indian approaches towards these offences.[1]

Despite such a great influence of computers and internet on day-to-day lives, the fact remains that only a fraction of people know what computer and internet is all about? There is a paucity of systematic study which elaborately discusses the basic concepts of cyber world like meaning, evolution, generations, types, characteristics and major components of computers; forms of networks, history of Internet in India, services and limitations of Internet etc.

Internet in the present millennium has become all pervasive and omnipresent. Internet in a sense is analogous to the high seas which no one owns yet people of all the nationalities use it. Cybercrimes have emanated from development of Internet or in simple language we can say from computer network. Cybercrime is an inevitable evil having its origin in the growing dependence of mankind on computer in modern life, the reason being that computers despite high technology devices are extremely vulnerable. Thus, whenever any crime or criminal activity takes place with use of computer, it constitutes a cybercrime. It is for that reason cybercrime is defined as an unlawful act wherein the computer is either tool or target or both.

Cybercrimes are such harmful activities in the cyberspace which may cause damage to a person, property or even the state or society. . there are many cybercrimes which are being committed by offenders all over the world using computer technology. Being radically different from the conventional crimes, the law enforcement agencies find it difficult to tackle cybercrimes with existing infrastructural mechanism because of lack of adequate knowledge about the computer operating system.

The ‘Cyber Manthan’ has bestowed many gifts to humanity but they come with unexpected pitfalls. It has become a place to do all sort of activities which are prohibited by law. It is increasingly being used for pornography, gambling, trafficking in human organs and prohibited drugs, hacking, infringing copyright, terrorism, violating individual privacy, money laundering, fraud, software piracy and corporate espionage, to name a few.

A legal framework for the cyber world was conceived in India in the form of E- Commerce Act, 1998. Afterwards, the basic law for the cyberspace transactions in India has emerged in the form of the Information Technology Act, 2000 which was amended in the year 2008. The IT Act amends some of the provisions of our existing laws i.e. the Indian Penal Code, 1860; the Indian Evidence Act, 1872; the Bankers Book Evidence Act, 1891 and the Reserve Bank of India Act, 1934. Though since 2000 the IT Act is in place in India for curbing cyber crimes, but the problem is that still this statute is more on papers than on execution because lawyers, police officers, prosecutors and Judges feel handicapped in understanding its highly technical terminology.

Due to the global nature of this crime it is required to have policing at international level as also active cooperation of the international community. The European Convention on Cybercrime, 2001 was one of the many praiseworthy attempts to tackle this crime, as it laid down guidelines to be followed by the member states in combating cybercrime. The convention not only dealt with the changes and improvements in the substantive part of criminal law but also referred to the procedural aspect which must be taken into consideration while restructuring the existing law to meet the current needs of developing technology. Out of variety of crimes, the convention chose ten specific cybercrimes and urged the member states to include them in their information technology laws and provide a concrete mechanism to fight against them. The crux of the matter is that uniformly accepted standard cybercrime preventive laws should not vary from place to place. In other words, uniformity is ensured with reference to substantive cyber laws of various nations.

The countries which have updated their cyber law to suit the needs of developing computer technology are notably, United States, Canada, Australia, Japan Germany and other European countries. So far as India is concerned, it has introduced a comprehensive information technology law by amending the principle Information Technology Act, 2000 by the I.T. (Amendment) Act, 2008 w.e.f 5th February, 2008. The amending Act has inserted as many as 15 new cybercrimes which are punishable under the I.T. Act.  Apart from these crimes, as many as 21 provisions has been added in Indian Penal to include within its ambit, certain criminal acts relating to cyberspace and electronic media; e.g. Sec 29-A which specifies that where the words ‘record’ or ‘document’ occurs in the code, it shall include an electronic record or document.

The scope & extent of cyber crimes is also other problem which is extremely alarming. The threat which started as simple form of Hacking done by some computer geeks for fun has now taken one of form as Cyber Terrorism, which need no special explanation about level of devastation which it can create. Extent of cyber crimes have went from few Thousand Dollar financial losses to Billon Dollar losses; from privacy threats to big multinationals to each and every individual today having a smart phone with them today.

Broadly speaking, the law enforcement agencies all over the world are confronted with four major problems while dealing with cybercrimes in a network environment; which are technical, legal, operational and jurisdictional in nature.

Technical challenges are cybercrimes such as; hacking, stealing data, espionage, exchange of pornographic material, blackmailing etc involve detection of source of communication which is a complicated task. Therefore, the cyber criminals find it easy to impersonate on the internet and hide their identity.

Further complicating cyber crime enforcement is the area of legal jurisdiction. Like pollution control legislation, one country cannot by itself effectively enact laws that comprehensively address the problem of internet crimes without cooperation from other nations. While the major international organizations, like the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) and the G-8, are seriously discussing cooperative schemes, but many countries do not share the urgency to combat cyber crimes for many reasons, including different values concerning piracy or espionage or the need to address more pressing social problems. These countries, inadvertently or not, present the cyber criminal with a safe haven to operate. Never before has it been so easy to commit a crime in one jurisdiction while hiding behind the jurisdiction of another. Though the issue of jurisdiction in cyberspace cannot be settled spontaneously, but still a global effort in this direction is the need of hour.[2] The researcher has made an attempt to exhaustively analyze these jurisdictional riddles and has suggested the evolution of a uniform international law applicable to transnational cyber crimes.

The legal challenge emerges from the fact that cyber criminality is no longer confined to the developed countries alone but it has assumed global dimensions in recent decades. The conventional legal techniques of investigation of cybercrimes are inadequate particularly, in case of cross country crimes. The problem becomes more complex because of lack of any universally accepted definition of cybercrime.

The operational challenges faced by the law enforcement agencies because of lack of adequate cyber forensic technology for dealing with cybercrimes constitute another in-road which renders it difficult to collect and preserve sufficient evidence against the person accused of cybercrime, thereby resulting in his/her acquittal by the court.

The jurisdictional challenges impending the efficient handling of cybercrime investigation result out of widespread inter-connectivity of the computer networks and the supporting infrastructure such as tele-communication, information dissemination on website etc. In case of cross-country cyber dispute or crime, the problem often arises as to the law of which country would be applicable to the case in hand.

Hence, all such matters of new cyber crimes and problems involved give rise to new bulging dimensions to cybercrimes. How far national and international efforts are compatible in dodging them is to be seen. Meanwhile a regular cyber space citizen should take proper precautions and care to avoid nasty loss of property and life too by becoming the victim of cybercrimes.

Social Media in the times of Coronavirus

With the unprecedented propagation of Novel Coronavirus-19 or COVID-19, the last few weeks has been exceptionally unpredictable, worrisome and restraining for everyone on the face of earth. Be it rich or poor or from any nationality, lives have been severely impacted due to this outbreak which has spread so rapidly that it caught many so-called developed nations by total surprise. We all have learnt many new terms which were unheard of a few weeks ago like “Social Distancing”. Even those who had never worked from home are now forced to do so. Many established norms and role models have got challenged in such a short span of time.

 

India and its leaders have responded fast and responded well to contain this emergency. Only time will tell whether we come out of this serious issue unscathed or it will leave us with marks difficult to erase. However, one thing is sure that our thoughts and paradigms will certainly change for the future.

 

What has been the best friend for all the citizens during these testing times is Social Media. Whether it is any platform being used, dissemination of information through Whatsapp and other medium has been really fast. Compared to a century ago when Spanish Flu arrived in India in 1918 and spread like wild fire over the next many months, information about COVID-19 has spread more rapidly and has been more widespread. Without advancements of last decade or so in realms of Social Media, the information flow about this disease, steps to prevent it and efforts to contain it might not have been as fast as they are currently. Information and mis-information has flown freely in the last two months since it first became noticed in Wuhan. It has helped spread caution amongst a large segment of India’s population including those from Rural areas or from poor segments of the society. At the same time, it has forced Governments to take note and initiate actions to contain the disease.

 

We have all seen alarming as well as funny forwards that we have received over last several weeks. Be it videos of movie stars like Katrina Kaif washing their own dishes or Police forces trying to contain violators of Lockdown across many states or Kartik Aryan warning us about the seriousness of this disease, Social Media has kept us entertained and well informed about the actions needed from the citizens to help contain this disease. One of the many forward’s received read “To all the Country Heads, Marketing Heads, Vice Presidents……. Bartan Dho Liye?”.

 

We are fortunate that our Government has been working to contain this disease and used Social Media to help stop this disease in India. Unlike the Mayor of a city in Europe who wished to celebrate February 1st 2020 as “Hug a Chinese Day”, our Government has issued strict warnings and given the do’s and don’ts clearly enough. We might have been bombarded with too much information in too short a span of time with same message received in several groups, Social Media definitely has aided in helping create awareness about this disease. Hoping that we all come out of this stronger and better and take lessons to celebrate life and humanity. Please join me in the chant “Corona go….. 😊”

 

INFORMATION TECHNOLOGY, INNOVATION & BUSINESS-THE INSEPARABLE TRIO!!

Business world has shown a remarkable interest in social media and made it as one of the major domain areas of the Click & Mortar world, needless to mention the flip world which runs only on the advancements made by information & technology. The way IT has innovated and help the business world grow in this era is remarkable!!!

The way the intermediation of IT & Business has happened off late it can be said that one cannot survive without the other and constitute to build up an inseparable relationship, and so mentioning one without other is often construed as a pointless utterance. The innovation of all the new software’s has made operations of a company smooth and faster than ever. The overall processes that can be tracked with the help of IT are remarkable

The emergence of concepts as IoT has attracted the business world and they utilised this concept so beautifully by giving this a practical approach and a new direction to run a business. The design concept introduced to the world by APPLE and later followed by AIR bnb and Ebay are all examples of the beautiful amalgamation of IT and arts /Innovation. All this wasn’t possible without Information technology.

Over a period of time IT has upgraded its importance and became indispensable for Business houses especially in there operational areas .As the small and medium sized enterprises being adaptive to any cultural,  regional or political change as per its dynamic nature has taken IT and innovation very intrinsically  into themselves.

Innovation is driven by IT which becomes the path to business success; Innovation has given business the same impact that Food does to a hungry stomach.

Digital revolution fed all the businesses with immense benefits ,even Farmers started using computers for getting into the modern methods of agriculture, Production records, Financial planning ,procurement, whether conditions etc. are some of the major areas where farmers seeks the help of computers.

The innovation driven by information technology has been the spin-off of the following major areas. Some of the significant development which has been achieved as a result of evolution and growth in information technology is as follows:

FLEXIBILITY

SPEED

NETWORKING

USER FRIENDLINESS

SOCIAL INTERACTIVITY

MINITURISATION

FUN

Information Technology & Business

Almost past a decade now, the major innovations and upscalement that has been witnessed in the business world is only possible because of information & Technology, the introduction of cloud computing, Big data analytics, click & mortar marketplaces, digital marketing, social communications & networks are a few examples to name some leading innovations that has helped the business world grow at a rapid speed.

With the birth of cloud computing, enhancement in privacy and security settings for the data sets to be effective and time saving, the role of IT in business cannot be undermined as virtually all working business houses these days heavily rely on computerized systems.

With the advancements in lowering down the cost of communications in business has laid the employees concentration more on process building and executions as well as process automations taken  took place in offices taking away the burden from the employees to thus enabling them shift their focus on other vital work and execute them efficiently. Meanwhile, the computerized systems handle variant processes like tracking projects, preparing reports and supervising financials among taking care of other official chores without requiring the intervention of staff. As a result, improved productivity is the result a company experiences. Electronic storage systems help in clamping down outside threats as unwanted intrusions through cyber space or hacking. Investing in technology and choosing the path of innovation increases the market share, share price, effectiveness, competitiveness of the company. Information technology has given the world the window   to scrutinise the data and plan ahead accordingly. In Today’s era digital marketing is a phenomenal tool that has helped the business to upscale their products and services by repeated promotions in relatively lower costs in the global market while sitting at your desk itself.

 

CONCLUSION

The Concoction of the these domains is helping this world to build up an all new Business age, the  epoch of digital revolution wherein common people will even feel a trendsetting  change. Rapid changes in terms of rendering substantial values to industries by helping them improve the efficiency and mitigating major financial overhead costs will be witnessed. Some of the leading and prospering IT advancements in the past few years can be Internet, Social media and digital marketing.  Nevertheless, Information technology has not only made it easier than ever for people to start businesses and earn their daily bread but even has encouraged the youngsters to come up as budding entrepreneurs and support the country economically. Now no longer need Millions and billions of rupees to start up a company, all one needs is a good IT infrastructure to its domain which can help in the rapid and speedy incremental growth the venture. So, surely the business world and the people running it owe a great deal of their success to Information Technology.