X

Cyber stalking and It’s Legal Provision in India

Stalking is the act which allow person to follow them for a longer time and the internet has created a channel that has made communication and sharing of data so easier. Social media allows people to connect with each other and to access other’s information in a single dick. The harassment faced by the women online is the harassment faced by them in their physical world.  A survey conducted by the feminism of India stated that the 50 % of women faced the harassment of online abuse, and the expert opinion is that the ratio of 50: 50 is the instance of cyber stalking are faced by both men and women. The stalking are mainly spotted in 2 major states  of India, first one is Maharashtra with 1399 cases and second one is Delhi around 1130 cases has been filled against stalking. Cyber stalking in India.

“They don’t like you but they will be checking your page religiously”

What is Cyber Stalking?

The word stalking means continuously follow person for a longer period of time. The stalker continuously follow the person in every place whether its home, market etc, and the word cyber stalking is an activity in which a person stalks or harass any other person by misusing the access of internet or electronic media. To harass a person a stalker may post message, pictures about a person and same may also track the location of the persons or online activities.

The cyber stalkers do adopt all types of technological and digital instruments, assault but it is an emotional assault and harassment which is carried out of social media. However, the provision provided to them is different from the real life situations.

Types of Cyber stalking

Women in India whether they are college student, housewife and professional used to get stalked on daily basis. Stalking itself is a criminal offence and is punishable with 1 to 3 years Jail. Now we should talk about different kinds of stalking in this world:

  • Cat fishing: In this stalker used to make fake accounts on social media to approach victims. They used to copy user account as it is so that it looks like real one.
  • Monitoring location check on social media: stalker keep the eye on activities of victim on social media such as facebook and instagram.
  • Visiting virtually via Google maps street view: if the stalker has discover victim address then it’s not difficult to find its area, neighborhood and surrounding area of the victims by this street view. They can discover the victim places from the posts or photos posted on social media.
  • Hijacking Webcam: webcam hijacking is one of the most disgusting methods of cyber stalking to invade victim privacy, stalker used to push malware infected files into victim’s computer which gives them access to the webcam.
  • Installing stalker ware: it is a kind of software or spyware which keeps tracking the location and enables access to text and browsing history and can make audio recording also, and most important thing that it can run without any kind of knowledge to the victims
  • Looking to geo tags to track location: mostly digital picture contains geo tags having the information about the time and location and when the short in the form of medatata. It comes in EXIF format embedded into an image and it is readable only by special apps by stalkers. By this way stalkers keep the eye on the victims and get all the details.

Legal Provision for Cyber stalking in India

Information Technology Act, 2000

  • Section43 A Compensation for Failure to Protect Data: if firm or the company transmit sensitive information about the person then such body or corporate will be liable to pay the damage by the compensation
  • Section 66A Punishment for sending offensive messages through communication service etc. Any information which is grossly offensive or which false to cause  any type of annoyance, inconvenience, danger, obstruction, insult, injury, criminal intimidation, enmity, hatred or ill will. Any email or electronic mail message to cause annoyance or inconvenience, mislead the addressee or recipient about the origin of such message, then person shall be punishable for imprisonment up to 3 years and fine.1

Shreya Singhal vs. Union of India2   In this case the Supreme Court of India cancelled Section 66A of the Information Technology Act of 2000 in its entirety. Section 66A of the Information Technology act reads: “Any person who sends by any means of a computer resource any information that is grossly offensive or has a menacing character; or any information which he knows to be false, but for the purpose of causing annoyance, inconvenience, danger, obstruction, insult shall be punishable with imprisonment for a term which may extend to three years and with fine.”

Sharat Babu Digumarti v. Government of NCT of Delhi3  In this case Supreme Court quashed the proceedings against appellant and ruled that if an offence involves an electronic record, then IT Act alone would apply since such was the legislative intent. It is a settled principle of interpretation that special laws would prevail over general laws and latter laws would prevail over prior legislation.

  • Section 67 Punishment for publishing or transmitting obscene material in electronic form: Any obscene material is published, transmit or caused to get published  in any of the electric form then it will be called as a crime obscenity, then punishment for that is imprisonment up to 3 yr and fine of 5 lakhs and if subsequent conviction happened then imprisonment up to 5 yrs and fine of Rs 10 lakhs.
  • Section 67B: The section focuses on when stalker targets children below the age of 18 years and publishes material in which children are engaged in sexual activities in order to terrorize the children.

Cyber stalking in India

Indian Penal Code, 1860

  • Section 292 obscenity: If any stalkers sending obscene materials to the victim on a social domain, emails or messages etc. Where the stalker attempts to deprave the other person by sending any obscene material on internet with the intention that the other person would read, see or hear the content of such material then he shall be guilty of the offense.4
  • Section 354C Voyeurism : Any man who watches, or captures the image of a woman Engaging in a private act in circumstances where she would usually have the expectation of not being observed as a perpetrator or by any other person or disseminates such image  then that person shall be punished5
  • Section 354D Stalking: Any man who follows a woman, or attempts to contact such woman to foster personal interaction repeatedly despite of a clear indication of disinterest by woman; or monitors the use by a woman of the internet, email or any other form, commits the offence o then he shall be imprisonment up to 3 years and fine in first conviction and in second conviction imprisonment up to 5 years and fine.
  • Section 500 defamation: if the stalker forges the victim’s personal information to post an obscene message or comment on any electronic media and publishing any false statement against a person or harming the person’s reputation then the person shall be imprisonment up to 2 years, fine or both.
  • Section 507 criminal intimidation by anonymous communication: This section states that if any stalker tries to hide his identity so that the victim should remains unaware of the source from where the threat comes, which amounts to an offence. The stalker shall be guilty under this section if he attempts to conceal his or her identity.

Virtual Reality of Cyber stalking in India

The internet has created a channel which has made communication and sharing of data so easier. Social domain allows people to connect with each other and to  access each other’s information. However, on the other hand technology allows criminals to misuse this liberty of access, leading to a rise in cyber crimes. The internet has created a channel that has made communication and sharing of data easier. Platforms of social media allows people to connect with each other and access each other However, on the flip side, technology has certain loopholes which allow criminals to misuse this liberty of access, leading to a rise in the rate of cyber crimes.

Cyber stalkers use multiple methods to stalk a person over the internet like SMS, phone calls, emails, etc., the most common being social media platforms. Social media websites and mobile apps have access to user personal information like pictures, address, contacts and whereabouts. Stalkers are able to misuse this information by blackmailing or physically contact the victim. A stalker may access to a person’s email account through hacking and use it for sending threatening or obscene messages. Some emails have computer malware or viruses attached to them in order to render the email useless to the owner. Laws are continuously amending to keep the changes in mode of crimes.

In the Priyanka Sharma case, the Supreme Court missed an opportunity to reprimand State Government and the Police officers responsible for pressing charges under Section 66A despite of the fact which has been declared unconstitutional, then apex court in this case would have sent a very strong message in lower echelons of administration regarding unconstitutionality of Section 66A of IT Act,2000.

How to report cyber stalking in India

  • Cyber Cell or FIR: one must register a complaint in cyber cell in the city and if cyber cell is not there then the person can file F.I.R. in a local police station.
  • Magistrate or Commissioner: in case of non acceptance one can file complaint to commissioner or judicial magistrate of the city.
  • Legal assistance: if a women approach to a police station with the allegation of cyber stalking imposed on her then she is entitled to legal counsel to help her in filling a case.
  • Privacy: victim statement should be taken down private. Often the cyber police station has a women police officer or constable who will help the victim to fill a complaint.

Conclusion

Cyber stalking is a newly coined term. It has gain attention of the legislature and judiciary recently. There have been many instances where the need for effective legislation was felt as it becomes very difficult for the enforcement agencies to deal with such cases. Cyber stalking is proved to be a grave offence. It has very far-reaching impact on the mental and physical health of the victim.

Citations

  1. Indian Kanoon
  2. 24 March, 2015
  3. MANU/SC/1592/2016
  4. Indian kanoon
  5. Indian Kanoon

Website Referred:

Books Referred

  • Mishra S.N “ Indian Penal Code” 13th Edition, Page No.345
  • Duggal Pawan “ Textbook on Cyber Law” 1st Edition, Page No.150

Bare Acts

  • Indian Penal Code,1860
  • The Information Technology Act,2000

Read Related Articles

White-collar Crimes

What is hacking?

Legal Aspect of Betting and Gambling Laws in India

View Comments (1)