By Nevin Clinton
Advancements in technology, especially in cyberspace, has brought with it a plethora of advantages that makes day-to-day life easier. Features that were unimaginable in the past are now just a click away. However, there are several dangers that are associated with cyberspace as well and the number of cyber crimes are growing rapidly around the world.
What is a cyber crime?
Cyber crime is any crime that involves the use of cyberspace or computers. A computer or a network of computers could be used either as a tool to achieve the end of a criminal activity or they could be the target. All crimes that are covered under the Indian Penal Code will therefore fall under the purview of cyber crime if there is the use of computers involved.
Cyber Crime Laws in India
Cyber Crime has a rather unique position in the Indian legal system. Both the Indian Penal Code and the Information Technology Act, 2000 govern it. There are some provisions that overlap while there are some that are unique to the latter act. In cases where there is an overlap and provisions from both statutes apply, it is those of the more specific IT Act that come into force if there is an involvement of cyberspace.
How to report a cyber crime online?
The Ministry of Home Affairs has a portal called the National Cyber Crime Reporting Portal where a citizen of India can report a cyber crime. The portal was brought in to ensure that complaints on cyber crime are reported and registered in quick time. The focus of the portal is aimed towards protecting women and children in particular, but general complaints can also be made. Once a complaint is made, it will be directed to the police authority that has jurisdiction to investigate.
For better and more focused reporting of complaints, the MHA has listed 24 broad cyber crimes. These include child pornography, cyber bullying, cyber stalking, credit card fraud, spamming, phishing, data breach, online drug trafficking, and more.
So to report any cybercrime, one has to follow these steps
- Go to the National Cyber Crime Reporting Portal (https://cybercrime.gov.in/)
- Click on ‘File a Complaint’
- Accept the terms that pop up confirming that all facts that you state are true to the best of your knowledge.
- You will then have two options – Reporting cyber crimes relating to women and children, and other cyber crimes.
- After clicking on the category, you will be directed to a page where you will have to provide details about the incident. Fill up the details including your state, place of occurrence of the incident, photo proof, and a complete description of the crime. You will then be directed to a page where you will have to provide any information that you might have on the suspect(s). After you submit the same, your complaint will be registered.
- Note that for crimes involving women and children, you can choose to report them anonymously. For others, you will have to provide details about yourself by signing in.
- Finally, you must provide as much information as possible for the authorities to take swift action.
What happens after a complaint is made?
After a complaint is made on the portal, the police authorities in the concerned state receive it and will decide on how to proceed with it. This is why filling up the correct state or UT while filing a complaint is important. In cases where the location of occurrence of the crime is not known such as child pornography, one can select his/her own residence as the state. The police in the said state will then investigate and direct the complaint to police of the state where they have jurisdiction.
Statistics from Norton Lifelock show that 27 million Indian adults fell victim to some form of cyber crime in 2020. Further, more than 50% of Indian adults are said to be unaware of how to keep themselves safe in cyberspace. Therefore, it is imperative for each citizen to always stay alert while using computers. The government can help as well by helping in educating and protecting its citizens. The aforementioned portal for filing complaints on cyber crime is a good step in this regard as it helps in quick reporting and tracking of cases while also granting the option of anonymity for the complainant. Due to the same, citizens must be made aware of the existence of this portal and such awareness can aid in curbing cyber crime to some extent at least.