The present era can be called a digital era, and human society largely depends on digital technology. The Internet is the need of today’s generation and it eases human work but people are less aware of how to use internet cyberspace properly. The growth of cyberspace also eases cyber criminals, leading to privacy breaches, hacking of digital devices, cyber frauds, and other cybercrimes. This type of crime not only harms the individual but is a major issue for the security of the nation and one of the concerning issues is terrorism and its funding through the internet cyberspace. So, cybersecurity is a crucial topic in the present scenario and many Nations and other National and International organizations have taken many initiatives for cybersecurity and for preventing cybercrimes and regulating cyberspace, India has enacted cyber laws like the Information Technology Act, of 2000. However, the present laws are not appropriate and need enhanced and comprehensive laws to deal with modern cybercrimes. This article mainly focuses on the definition of cybercrime and analysis of the significance of cyber laws.
Keywords: Cyberspace, Digital Technology, Cybercrimes, Cyber laws, Privacy, Hacking.
The use of modern technology, technologies, and the internet makes life easier for people since they enable us to do official work, communicate with people around the world, and perform a variety of other activities. According to the Global Internet users: At the beginning of 2022, there were 4.95 billion internet users worldwide, making internet penetration 62.5 percent of the world’s population. As per data, the number of internet users increased by 192 million (+4.0%) over the past year. So, it clearly shows that the dependency on the internet i.e., cyberspace is increasing every year and cyberspace can be defined as a global domain within the information environment consisting of the interdependent network of information systems infrastructures including the Internet, telecommunications networks, computer systems, and embedded processors and controllers.
As cyberspace is growing it also increases cybercrimes and also most people are less aware of how to use cyberspace in a correct or in a protective manner which eases cyber criminals to target them. Cybercrimes include those types of crimes which are committed with the help of cyberspace like hacking, breaching digital privacy, money frauds, illegal business, terror funding, and include many more crimes. Now to regulate cyberspace and curb cybercrimes a comprehensive cyber law must be needed thus Information Technology Act, of 2000 was passed by the Indian Parliament and the act was enacted to give legal sanction to electronic commerce and electronic transactions, to enable e-governance, and also to prevent cybercrime.
The paper is descriptive in nature and secondary sources were used to collect data. It has been tried to describe the comprehensive meaning of cyberspace and cybercrimes and analyse the present cyber laws in India and what enhancements are required to curb the modern era’s cybercrimes. For the purpose of gathering data for this research, websites, journal papers, yearly databases, and blogs were mostly used as sources.
Review of Literature
In order to do this, the author studied publications from several major articles, blogs and the Information Technology Act of 200. The author has found several articles which address the topic of cyberspace and cybercrimes for the analysis of the subject matter, to mention a few:
1. I pleaders: In this article titled “Information technology Act”   , the author discussed the Background, Features, overview, amendments, and judgements and the author has provided a detailed assessment of the act and to summarise, he believes that the Act is a step toward protecting the data and sensitive information stored with the intermediaries online. It gives various provisions which benefit the citizens and protects their data from being misused or lost.
2. ResearchGate: In this article title “A Study on Emerging Issue on Cyber Law” , the author discussed the definition of cyber laws and issues under it, issues related with the technology and proposed ideology. To summarise, the author believes that for the emerging trend of cybercrimes, it is important to have a cyber law enforcing momentum because cybercrime has the prospective to destroy each and every aspect of life as it is easy to commit but it’s really hard to detect.
3. Uncitral (United Nations Commission on International Trade Law): It emphasizes the encouraging electronic means in economic activities. The most widely enacted text is the UNCITRAL Model Law on Electronic Commerce (1996), which establishes rules for the equal treatment of electronic and paper-based information, as well as the legal recognition of electronic transactions and processes, based on the fundamental principles of non-discrimination against the use of electronic means, functional equivalence and technology neutrality. Also, the Government of India adopted this model which resulted in the enactment of the Information Act, 2000.
4. India today: In this article title” Cyber fraud incidents rising in India: how to file a complaint online on Cyber Crime portal” the author has discussed the analytical data showing the rate of cybercrimes per year and also describe the meaning of cyber frauds.
What is Cyberspace
The emergence of digital devices and the internet creates cyberspace which is a virtual realm that plays a significant role in human society and it eases communication, sharing of information, development of e-commerce and so many other things. Cyberspace is a key factor for human advancement as we see that it eases the way of worldwide communications and it opens new ways of business, enhances the economic growth of nations, and changes the way of learning in the education field. Cyberspace, is an amorphous, supposedly “virtual” world created by links between computers, Internet-enabled devices, servers, routers, and other components of the Internet’s infrastructure. According to the U.S. Department of Defence, cyberspace is a global domain within the information environment consisting of the interdependent network of information technology infrastructures, including the Internet, telecommunications networks, computer systems, and embedded processors and controllers. India’s National Cyber Security Policy, 2013 defines cyberspace as a complex environment consisting of interactions between people, software and services, supported by the worldwide distribution of information and communication technology (ICT) devices and networks.
Cyberspace also helps in boosting the economy as we see it the world is moving to the digital economy as bitcoins and cryptocurrency were introduced as digital currencies and India has an estimated 115 million cryptocurrency investors in 2022. The digital economy also helps in reducing the corruption rate as most of the transactions and schemes can be monitored through cyberspace. In the education field, online learning platforms and e-libraries help people to access more educational content and increase the flow of information and knowledge which develops skills in people. The global online Teaching and Learning Platforms market size was valued at USD 197.2 Billion in 2021 growing at a CAGR of 17.5% from 2022 to 2032 . This shows that the demand for learning platforms has increased as it provides numerous advantages to people. In India union government initiated the Digital India Mission for the enhancement of digital infrastructure and digital empowerment of citizens and India is now the largest ‘connected’ nation in the world with 800 million Indian users.
Virtually every traditional activity today has a digital equivalent as a result of the increasing significance of cyberspace in sustaining economic growth, providing for citizen governance, ensuring national security, and promoting the general welfare. Governments of different countries are focusing on increasing the infrastructure for cyberspace as it is emerging as the frontier for national security and it is a matter of concern because there are recent cases of cyber-attacks which are a threat to national security. So, basically, Cyberspace has positive and negative sides and it has to be regulated by comprehensive laws to curb the cases of cyber fraud, and cyber-attacks and to prevent cyber wars.
What are cybercrime and its types?
Crimes which are committed through cyberspace and digital technologies are generally referred to as cybercrimes such as hacking, cyberbullying, and breaching of privacy and many more. The development of cyberspace also increases the cases of cybercrimes as it is an easy way to do crimes and also people are less aware of how to use cyberspace in a secure manner India registers over 16 lakh cases of online fraud in the past three years. Cybercriminals usually cannot be traced easily as they can be anywhere in the world. This type of crime is completely different from traditional crimes because a person can commit cybercrimes just only using any digital device and this shows the negative side of the betterment of technologies.
There are many types of Cybercrimes and some of it can be classified as:
1. Identity theft:
In this type of cybercrime, personal information related to the person will be targeted, through which cybercriminals can access his banking details, confidential documents, and other private information and also cybercriminals can sell this information for monetary profit. Further cybercriminals use this identity to commit forgery and also for gaining the advantage of government benefits in the name of the victim.
Cyberbullying is referred to as humiliating, harassing or bullying someone by using digital devices such as laptops, and smartphones. It can take place on social media, messaging platforms, gaming platforms and mobile phones. It is repeated behaviour, aimed at scaring, angering or shaming those who are targeted. It can be done by sending abusive or hurtful messages or images and also by spreading lies through fake accounts on any social media platform. When someone is bullied it causes mental and physical trauma to the victim and the victim may get anxiety or depression. Cyberbullying is persistent and permanent and therefore, can harm the online reputation of not just the victim but both the parties involved. In the case of Shibani Barik v. State of Odisha, the supreme court emphasises making strict regulations which can protect children and youngsters from cyber bullying.
3. Cyber Pornography:
Cyber pornography is in simple words defined as the act of using cyberspace to create, display, distribute, import, or publish pornography or obscene materials. Most people have access to cyberspace and it leads to more consumption of pornographic content by people, especially youngsters. The expansion of cyberspace also increases the network size of the porn industry and as a result, this industry is operating in an organised manner throughout the world and women and children are the main victims.
4. Online job frauds:
Many people use cyberspace for searching jobs according to their qualifications but some fake companies offer them jobs with a good salary and they demand some money for it and this is how people get scammed. There are many instances when people give money for a job but they did not get it. To curb online job fraud people must be aware of how to search for jobs in cyberspace securely and they should check the complete profile of the company or organization.
In this type of crime, cybercriminals send a mail with a malicious attachment or URL through which they can steal the personal information of people like debit or credit card pin or CVV, and bank account details. Phishing attacks typically rely on social networking techniques applied to email or other electronic communication methods. Some methods include direct messages sent over social networks and SMS text messages.
Cybercrimes must be prevented by strict rules and regulations and people must know how to use cyberspace properly and should use security features and also install antivirus software so they can protect themselves from malicious links, websites or from viruses.
Cyber laws in India
There must be strict rules which regulate cyberspace and which can help to curtail the rate of cyberspace and provide punishments to cybercriminals. India’s cyber laws have helped to enable electronic commerce and electronic governance to flourish in India by safeguarding maximum connectivity and minimizing security concerns. The development of cyberspace is the need for the fast growth of a country’s economy but we cannot neglect the fact that there is a negative side of cyberspace and the cases of cybercrimes increasing per year. To curb this Indian parliament enacted the Information Technology Act, 2 of 2000 which addresses the issue of cybercrimes and punishment for them. Also some provision which deals with cybercrimes is mentioned in In the Indian Penal Code.
The Information Technology Act, of 2000 is the one and only foremost legislation for functions as the regulatory framework for controlling cyberspace and other digital devices. This legislation has touched on varied aspects pertaining to electronic authentication, digital (electronic) signatures, cybercrimes and the liability of network service providers. The main objective to implement the IT Act is to replace outdated laws which are not functioning properly and this act also covers the vast scope related to cyberspace and cybercrimes and emphasises creating legal infrastructure for the authentication and origin of electronic communication through digital signatures.
The need of the Information Act, 2000 is very important as India is one of the fast-developing countries and the cyber infrastructure is the key factor for development so for this a regulatory act must be present to control all the activities related to it and to secure the safe use of cyberspace as the cyberspace can be used against the national security and also against the privacy of the individual. Also, IT Act has some loopholes as it does not define the different numbers of crimes which can be done by different techniques as cybercriminals can develop different ways to commit crimes which cannot be defined or come under the ambit of cyber laws, so the more comprehensiveness is required in this act.
The Information Act, 2000 is divided into 13 Chapters, 90 sections and 2 schedules.
- PRELIMINARY: Deals with the commencement, application and definitions clauses.
- DIGITAL SIGNATURE AND ELECTRONIC SIGNATURE
- ELECTRONIC GOVERNANCE
- ATTRIBUTION, ACKNOWLEDGEMENT AND DESPATCH OF ELECTRONIC RECORDS.
- SECURE ELECTRONIC RECORDS AND SECURE ELECTRONIC SIGNATURES.
- REGULATION OF CERTIFYING AUTHORITIES.
- ELECTRONIC SIGNATURE CERTIFICATES.
- DUTIES OF SUBSCRIBERS.
- PENALTIES, COMPENSATION AND ADJUDICATION.
- THE APPELLATE TRIBUNAL.
- INTERMEDIARIES ARE NOT TO BE LIABLE IN CERTAIN CASES
- DOCUMENTS OR TRANSACTIONS TO WHICH THE ACT SHALL NOT APPLY
- ELECTRONIC SIGNATURE OR ELECTRONIC AUTHENTICATION TECHNIQUE AND PROCEDURE.
Characteristics of Information Technology act, 2000
The following are the characteristics of the IT Act, of 2000:
1. Information Technology act, 200 is enacted by Parliament in furtherance of the model law of electronic commerce in 1996 adopted by UNICETRAL (United Nations Commission on International Trade Law).
2. It also has extra-territorial jurisdiction and the foreign national can be charged [Section 1 (2)].
3. Various terminology related to digital technology has been defined in section 2.
4. It gives the concept of electronic signature (section-3A).
5. Validity of contracts formed through electronic means (Section 10A)
6. Recognition of foreign Certifying Authorities (section 19)
7. Punishment is given to the person who accesses the other person’s computer or other digital devices without the consent of that person or tries to damage the computer. (Section 49).
8. The Appellate tribunal has been constituted under this act (section 48).
9. Civil courts have no jurisdiction over the subject matter of cyber (Section 61).
10. The IT Act also amended certain provisions of the Indian Penal Code (IPC), the Banker’s Book Evidence Act, of 1891, the Indian Evidence Act, of 1872 and the Reserve Bank of India Act, of 1934 to modify these laws to make them compliant with new digital technologies.
The use of cyberspace or any other digital devices is a need of the present and users of it are increasing each day so it is significant to emphasise the safe use of it and protect against cybercrimes. The United Nations and Governments of different nations are very concerned about this and implemented various laws for the regulations of cyberspace but with the increase of new types of cybercrimes, the laws should be updated. The protective and safe use of cyberspace helps in the growth of the nation’s economy and in the better advancement of digital technologies. The Information Technology Act commenced with the objective to set rules and regulations for cyberspace and preventing cybercrimes. This act is very beneficial in maintaining private or sensitive information transit through digital or electronic devices. So, data literacy and awareness of cybersecurity must be provided to the people and also strict punishments must be given to cyber criminals.
Name: Yash Bethal
College: NRI Vidyadayini Institute of Science, Management and Technology, Bhopal
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