From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :
Prelims level : CERT-IN
Mains level : Paper 2- Cybercrimes against women
The open-source app, Bulli Bai, hosted on the web platform GitHub for “auctioning Muslim women” has laid bare the harassment women face online.
Cybercrimes against women
- As per the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) there were around 825 million internet users in India at the end of March 2021.
- The minuscule amount of rogue elements among these internet users have the lethal capability to create havoc in the nation, its polity, economy and the personal and professional lives of citizens.
- Reluctance to file case: Many times, police officers are approached by anxious parents, days before marriage, seeking help about fake profiles or morphed photographs of their daughters on the internet.
- A formal police case is thus never lodged.
- The stark reality is that cyber blackmailing, stalking and bullying is a humongous issue, causing a lot of stress to women and their families.
- NCRB statistics show that total cyber crimes in India during 2020 were 50,035, and those specifically against women were only 10,405.
Steps need to be taken
- Promt reporting and registration: To find out the true magnitude of cyber crime, prompt reporting and registration are the only options.
- International cooperation through treaties: There are many international gangs which successfully avoid detection as “servers” used by them are located outside India.
- International cooperation through formal treaties and informal channels has to be pursued.
- CERT-IN has been doing commendable work in this regard.
- Registering a criminal case is the first crucial step as it sets the law into motion, leading to tracing, arresting and prosecuting the rogues even if they are located outside the country.
- Increase awareness: There is need to increase awareness about cyber safety and security so that youth, especially young girls and women, take proper precautions while surfing the virtual world.
- Better policing: As for the police, we do need better infrastructure, more special cyber cells and police stations, regular training, and collaboration with cyber experts on a continuous basis.
- Strengthening the capability of forensic laboratories can lead to timely collection of evidence of cyber bullying, threatening, morphing and profiling.
- Many state labs do not have sufficient numbers of cyber experts to seize, preserve and store images of digital evidence essential for securing conviction in courts.
- The central government has given funds to states and Union territories under the Cyber Crime Prevention Against Women and Children (CCPWC) scheme to start “cyber forensic-cum-training laboratories”.
- Fast trial: Fast trial of cyber crimes would indeed help. As per the NCRB, during 2020, court trials were completed in only nine cases of cyber blackmailing and threatening with a 66.7 per cent conviction rate — 393 such cases are pending in courts.
- Systematic training of prosecutors and judicial officers in dealing with cyber crimes would definitely speed up trials.
Prompt reporting of cyber crime by citizens, technically proficient investigation by police adequately supported by forensics, and time-bound completion of court trials are essential for catching cyber offenders who are terrorising people, especially women, in the virtual as well as the real world.