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Impact of globalization on cybercrimes

November 27, 2021
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This article has been written by Aditi Shrivastava, pursuing the Diploma in Cyber Law, FinTech Regulations, and Technology Contracts from LawSikho. The article has been edited by Zigishu Singh (Associate, LawSikho) and Ruchika Mohapatra (Associate, LawSikho).

Introduction

Information and communication technology has expedited the growth of globalization. Advancement and innovation of technologies such as telecommunication devices, the internet, and television have led to more interaction among people, businesses, and governments around the globe. The process whereby businesses or other entities and groups gain international influence or begin to operate on a global scale is known as globalization. Globalization facilitates the spread and exchange of ideas, beliefs, values, ethics, culture, knowledge, information, goods, and services between the people of different nations. Globalization builds a connection and promotes partnership among people and businesses of different countries. The impact of globalization is so tenacious that it has created an insuppressible interdependence of the world’s economies, communities, populations, and cultures. Along with the progressive and evolutionary impact of globalization, it has numerous negative consequences as well. No doubt that ICT has pushed the growth of globalization but the combination of globalization and ICT has given birth to ‘Cyber Crimes’. Whereby globalization was facilitating the spread of cultures, beliefs, and values, it has also disseminated the ideas regarding innovation in crimes and unethical conducts.

Globalization has developed as a defining element of the new century, and it has become an inevitable reality in contemporary society. Globalization is a force that cannot be ignored by any group or culture. It is a social development process in which geographical and cultural boundaries are broken down. Transportation and communication have resulted in the reduction of obstacles. Globalization is more than just an economic phenomenon; it is also a cultural phenomenon. The article aims to elaborately discuss the impact of Globalization on cybercrimes and how, with the growth of globalization and Information and Communication Technology, conventional crimes are getting replaced with crimes of the contemporary and digitalized world. It further explains how the perpetrators are coming up with innovative ways and ideas to commit a crime simply by sitting at their homes and having a good internet connection.

What are cybercrimes?

Globalization and advancement of technology have aided the spread of cybercrimes around the globe. Innovations and advancements in communication technology and the invention of the internet and telecommunication devices indeed facilitated the growth of globalization, which in turn aided the spread of innovative methods of committing crimes where the offender may not be present in the same city as the victim. 

Cybercrime is defined as a crime done with or through the use of a computer, computer network, internet, or any other online service or electronic device. Committing theft of personal data from the laptop of the victim, sexually assaulting a woman on the social media platform, blackmailing and threatening a person on social media to extort money, defaming a person by posting false derogatory statements against him on social media platforms and many more are some of the examples of frequently committed cybercrimes. With the advancement in every field and every part of society, and with the world becoming more globalized with every passing day, these crimes are increasing and are given specific names and definitions. Cyber bullying, sextortion, cyber hacking, phishing, cybersex trafficking, child grooming, etc. are some of the types of cybercrimes.

ICT and globalization

The information revolution and the rapid distribution of knowledge have opened a new era of knowledge and information that has immediate impacts on economic, social, cultural, and political activity in many parts of the globe. Governments all across the world have recognized the potential importance of information and communication technologies in socio-economic growth.

Information Communication Technology (ICT) is a computer-based system for transmitting, receiving, processing, and retrieving data that has transformed the way we think, live, and interact with our surroundings. It’s important to remember that globalization isn’t only about financial markets; it also includes a wide spectrum of social, political, economic, and cultural aspects. Globalization’s primary and driving force is the information and communication technology revolution, and the dynamic change in all aspects of human existence is a major by-product of the current globalization period of the digital revolution. ICTs are becoming increasingly significant in the ability of companies and society to produce, acquire, adapt, and utilise information. Because of its potential to improve the transfer and acquisition of knowledge, it is being hailed as an instrument for the post-industrial age and the foundations for a knowledge society.

ICT could provide developing countries with extraordinary chances to reform educational systems, better policy formulation and implementation, and expand the range of prospects for business and the poor, in addition to facilitating knowledge acquisition and absorption. Learning, knowledge networking, knowledge codification, teleworking, and science systems could all benefit from it. ICT can be utilised to gain access to global knowledge and to communicate with others.

Without a question, the entire world is becoming digital, and globalization is speeding up every day as a result of this uninterrupted and highly functional information and communication technology. Globalization is predominantly affected by rapid advancements in ICT, which have resulted in a tremendous expansion in globalization over the last millennium.

Impact of globalization and ICT

Globalization has benefited industrialized countries while sometimes having negative consequences. Education and learning, commerce, technology and innovation, competition and entrepreneurship, investments and capital flows, employment, culture, and organizational structure are just a few of the positive consequences. Some elements of globalization that have a negative influence include job instability, price fluctuations, terrorism, cybercrime, cyber threat, currency fluctuations, capital flows, and so on. The impact of globalization on cybercrimes is elaborately discussed in this paper. 

Offenders are coming up with new means and ideas to commit crimes as a result of the rapid emergence of globalization and ICT. Conventional crimes did not necessitate the use of computers or the internet, but with the advancement of technology, a person can steal personal data and information from his house. He is not required to visit the victim’s residence. In the online realm, this is known as hacking and data theft. Committing the offense of theft or extortion becomes easy when the victim cannot see the offender but it becomes easier for the offender to hide from the police when the offense is committed in the virtual world.

Crimes in the globalized world

As India progresses toward increased computerization, putting a greater number of operations on the internet, from government administration to surveillance and developmental programs, the threat of cybercrime is rising with each day. The threats of this crime have grown significantly as the process of globalization has expanded the levels and dimensions at which countries of the world interact nowadays. It appears that as the world becomes more globalized, the risk of cybercrime increases. In most situations, cybercrime is an attack on information about individuals, organizations, or governments; the attacks do not take place on a physical body, but rather on a virtual body, which is a collection of information about people and organizations on the internet. New technology opens up new criminal opportunities, yet there are rarely new forms of crimes.

In the globalizing world, conventional crimes are getting replaced with innovative ones. The perpetrators are coming up with new means and ideas to commit crimes in the digitized world. When a conventional crime is committed with the use of computer or internet sources, it becomes a cybercrime. Some of the infamous conventional crimes, when committed in the globalized and digitalized world are given below-

1. Cyber theft

Prior to globalization and innovation of ICT, the crime of theft required visiting the offender to the victim’s place of work or residence to steal the money, goods, confidential documents, and information because money and confidential documents used to be in tangible form locked up in a safe. In the contemporary world, when the personal and financial information of the victim is stored in his laptop or mobile phone, and when money is present in the bank accounts that can be virtually transferred, it has become very easy for the perpetrators to hack into the victim’s system and steal such data. There have been cases where the money is stolen from the account of the victim and transferred to some unknown bank account. Such crime is known as Cyber theft where the offender may not be present in the same city or country as the victim.

2. Cyber terrorism and cyber extortion

When the offender hacks into the computer system of the victim and decrypts all the files and information stored in it and demands a ransom to decrypt them, such crime is known as cyber extortion. It refers to the conventional crime of extortion whereby the offender puts the victim in fear of physical injury to dishonestly induce him to deliver some property or money but is committed to the use of technology.

Cyber terrorism refers to the use of computers and digital technology for political purposes to generate widespread disruption or fear in society. Cyber terrorism takes place in the virtual world unlike conventional crime of terrorism whereby the public or group of people are physically terrorised. 

3. Sextortion

The offender threatens and blackmails the victim to reveal her and publish the morphed and private pictures with the aim to extort sexual favors or/and money. This is known as sextortion. Unlike the conventional crime of sexual harassment, this does not require the use of criminal force or physical sexual assault of the victim. The offender can extort money and sexual favors from the victim with the use of digitally generated images and videos.

4. Cyber bullying and cyber defamation

Cyber defamation involves the publishing of derogatory statements against the victim on social media platforms. Cyber defamation involves the use of the internet, social media platforms, or other intermediaries.

Posting or publishing abusive and defamatory comments against the victim on social media platforms, constantly messaging or calling the victim on her mobile phone, posting morphed images of the victim on social media intermediaries are some of the acts covered under cyberbullying. Under conventional law, such an act of physically approaching the victim with the intention to establish a personal interaction is punishable under IPC. This may or may not require the use of the internet and mobile phones.

5. Sexually abusive or pornographic content

It involves assault and sexual abuse of the victim over the internet, morphing the images of the victim and demanding sexual favors, using the morphed images of the victim for pornographic purposes. Morphing the images of a person has become very easy in the digitized world where one can download the image from the social media account of the victim and can edit it with the use of various photo-editing software. 

6. Cyber fraud and forgery

Cyber fraud involves attaching fake electronic signatures to an electronic document, altering the contents of any confidential document, creating fake digital identities, creating false e-documents to produce it as evidence in the court of law, etc. This does not involve paper and pen or making duplicate/false traditional signatures. The precision is so high that it becomes almost impossible to differentiate between the original and the fake document, identity, or signature. 

It also involves deceiving people while displaying fake identities and inducing them to make online payments. It involves job scams where the offender acts as the HR of any reputed company and dishonestly induces the candidate to pay a sum of money to complete the onboarding formalities.

The above mentioned are some of the cybercrimes that are being frequently committed in the digitalized and globalized world. These crimes are punishable under Information Technology Act, 2000 and the Indian Penal Code, 1860. 

Conclusion

Globalization is the unshakable reality of today’s world. Information and communication technology has resulted in the boom of globalization and the exchange of ideas and beliefs across the globe. A person sitting in India can invest in a business running in America. It is very important to note that globalization is not only an economic phenomenon; it creates a way for people to indulge in social and political activities as well. It creates a medium for people to exchange and spread ideas, values, beliefs, and lifestyles. A British individual can influence people sitting in India simply by writing a post or uploading a video on a social media platform. Globalization facilitates the spread of cultures across nations. The dominance of western culture in India is the result of globalization.

This medium of exchange of ideas and beliefs is indeed what the world needed to expand the horizons of development and awareness but as it has been said that “anything in excess is poison”, globalization also negatively impacted this world. People not only exchanged values and ethics but also came up with innovative ways to commit crimes. The boom in ICT and the invention of the internet, mobile phones, and computer resources also resulted in the commitment of crimes in the virtual world, making people unsafe while using the internet and telecommunication devices. When a conventional crime takes place in the virtual or online world, it is known as cybercrime. Therefore, globalization and ICT together influenced the growth of cybercrimes in the world.

Committing the offense of theft or extortion becomes easy when the victim cannot see the offender but it becomes easier for the offender to hide from the police when the offense is committed in the virtual world. As elaborately mentioned in this paper, how easy it is to commit a crime in the virtual world and also to escape liability, the number of cybercrimes is increasing day by day. 

Indian law provides the Information Technology Act, 2000 for the regulation and punishment of cybercrimes in India. The Government of India has also set up a national cybercrime reporting portal for the online complaint registration of cybercrimes and cyber cells for offline complaints. The national cybercrime reporting portal also gives an option of anonymously filing a complaint in case of female/child victim of sexual abuse or pornographic content. The status of complaints can also be tracked after registration. India has been modifying and expanding the scope of ICT law but ICT has been developing as well and perpetrators are coming up with new ideas of committing the crimes every single day. There is a need for stronger management and investigation mechanisms for the cyber police to catch the cybercrime offenders.

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