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Laws Punishing Cyber Stalking and Online Harassment

July 13, 2018
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In this article, Chandrima Khare of Rajiv Gandhi National University of Law, Punjab discusses laws Punishing Cyber Stalking and Online Harassment.

Introduction

India has not only bagged one of the top ranks for having the highest number of internet users, but we also ace the statistics of global sexual harassment. The harassment faced by women online mirrors the image of harassment faced by them in the physical world. A survey conducted by Feminism in India underscored that 50% of women in major cities of India have faced online abuse. What is more striking is that instances of cyberstalking against men are on a surge. Experts have opined that the ratio is 50:50 vis-a-vis the instances of cyberstalking faced by men and women.

Cyber Stalking and Online Harassment

How British Crime Survey defines stalking

How Forbes defines online harassment

Online Harassment under the Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition, and Redressal) Act 2013

Online harassment also encompasses sexual harassment which is defined under section 2(n) of the Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition, and Redressal) Act 2013 as unwelcome

To know more about the virtual reality of cyber stalking in India in brief, please refer to the video below:

What can constitute online harassment?

To know more about the scope of what to do when someone is stalking you in brief, please refer to the video below:

Legal Provisions on Cyberstalking and Online Harassment

Punishment for cyberstalking and online harassment under the Indian Penal Code

The Information Technology Act, 2008

The IT Act of 2008 does not directly deal with the offence of stalking.

Section 72 of the Act is used to deal with the offence of stalking which reads as follows: Any person who, in pursuant of any of the powers conferred under this Act, rules or regulations made thereunder, has

Section 67 prohibits and punishes with imprisonment extending up to three years and fine for the first conviction and to five years and fine upon second conviction, the publication, transmission and causing of transmission of obscene content.

Section 67A has culled out a special category called material containing a ‘sexually explicit act’. The publication, transmission or causing of transmission of such material is punishable with imprisonment extending up to five years and fine for first conviction and to seven years and fine upon second conviction.

Section 66A of IT Act, 2008 provides:

Any person who sends, by means of a computer resource or a communication device

(a) any information that is grossly offensive or has menacing character; or

(b) any information which he knows to be false, but for the purpose of causing annoyance, inconvenience, danger, obstruction, insult, injury, criminal intimidation, enmity, hatred or ill will, persistently by making use of such computer resource or a communication device,

(c) any electronic mail or electronic mail message for the purpose of causing annoyance or inconvenience or to deceive or to mislead the addressee or recipient about the origin of such messages, shall be punishable with imprisonment for a term which may extend to three years and with fine.

This section was struck down in Shreya Singhal v. Union of India in 2015 as it

arbitrarily, excessively and disproportionately invaded the right of free speech and was so wide that any opinion on any subject would come under its ambit.

How to lodge a complaint

The Information Technology Act provides that notwithstanding anything contained in the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973, any police officer, not below the rank of a Deputy Superintendent of Police, or any other officer of the Central Government or a State Government authorised by the Central Government in this behalf may enter any public place and search and arrest without warrant any person found therein who is reasonably suspected or having committed or of committing or of being about to commit any offence under this Act. (Section 80)

Cybercrimes do not have a jurisdiction as these crimes committed without any barrier of boundaries. So, you can report a cyber crime to the cybercrime units of any city irrespective of the place where it was committed.

What can be reported to CERT?

Both the users and System Administrators can approach CERT-IN to report about computer security incidents and vulnerabilities. CERT-IN is at your disposal to provide technical assistance if the users experience any the following violations:

How to report incidents to CERT-IN

You can report an incident to CERT by sending them an electronic mail, calling them, or filling up a form available on their website, or by fax.

        and assist in recovery as desired by you.

DOs and DON’Ts

Important laws relating to Cyber Stalking and Online Harassment one must know

Sl. No.                              Offences     Sections
1. Printing etc. of grossly indecent or scurrilous matter or matter intended for  blackmail Sec. 292 A IPC
2. Making sexually coloured remarks, guilty of the offence of sexual harassment. Sec. 354 A IPC
3. Offence of Stalking Sec. 354 D IPC
4. Sending defamatory messages by email Sec. 499 IPC
5. Criminal intimidation by an anonymous communication Sec. 507 IPC
6. Word, gesture or act intended to insult the modesty of a woman Sec. 509 IPC
7. Punishment for violation of privacy Sec. 66E IT Act, 2008
8. Publishing or transmitting obscene material in electronic form Sec. 67 IT Act, 2008
9. Publishing or transmitting of material containing sexually explicit act, etc. in electronic form Sec. 67 A IT Act, 2008
This is not a comprehensive list.

The International Journal of Science, Technology, and Management (issued on 4th April 2017) gave some useful links to report objectionable content to Social Media intermediaries like Facebook, Yahoo etc.

Facebook

https://www.facebook.com/policies/?ref=pf ii. https://www.facebook.com/about/privacy Ms. Ankhi Das, Facebook India, Public Policy Director Building No. 14, Raheja Mindspace, HiTech City, Main Road, Vittal Rao Nagar, Hyderabad, Andhra Pradesh, India E-mail id: records@fb.com,ankhi@fb.com and jwu@fb.com

Yahoo India

Mr Robin Fernandes, Sr.Executive Compliance Building 12, 6th Floor, Solitaire Corporate Park, Guru Hargovindji Marg, Andheri (E), Mumbai 400 093 Tel: + 91 22 3308 9600 ,+ 912233089652 Mobile: +91 8452049536 Fax: +91 22 3308 9700 E-mail id: robinfe@yahoo-inc.com

YouTube and Google India Pvt. Ltd. https://www.youtube.com/t/contact_us https://support.google.com/youtube/topic/2803240 ?hl=en&rd=1 Ms. Gitanjli Duggal, Legal Director, DLF Cyber City, Tower 8C. 9th floor, Gurgaon – 122002. E-mail id:support-in@google.com; gitanjli@google.com

Apple India Pvt Ltd.

19th floor, Concorde Tower C, UB City, No. 24, Vittal Mallya Road, Bangalore 0560001 India E-mail id: khanafer@apple.com, bangalore_admin@apple.com

Microsoft Corporation (I) Pvt. Ltd.

Ms. Madhu Khatri Associate General Counsel, Microsoft Corporation India Pvt. Ltd. 10th Floor, Tower B & C,DLF Building No.5 (Epitome), Cyber City, DLF Phase III, Gurgaon, 122002 Fax: 91-124-4158888 Dial toll-free: 1800 102 1100 or 1800 111 100 E-mail id: Meenu.Chandra@microsoft.com

Twitter https://support.twitter.com/articles/80586 E-mail id: grievance-officer-in@twitter.com ; support@twitter.com

 

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