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This article has been written by Varun Wahane, from the Bharati Vidyapeeth New Law College, Pune.

Introduction 

In the time of chaos in the pandemic, as the world is suffering through a major health crisis many other dark elements with atrociousness and treacherousness have risen since the lockdown had started. As people were in their respective homes and following the rules of the government, the medium to get used to this lifestyle was the internet browsing and social media suffering which turns out to be dangerous because of data transferring or acquiring personal information of anyone by hacking, frauds, or unknown internet viruses. It has been discovered that such viruses or frauds are a medium to get access to personal information of the user. In a catastrophic time of the pandemic, people are vulnerable to internet use, and therefore become victims of cybercrimes. 

The Internet is also a necessity for many corporate and government office employees who are working from home in the lockdown. Cases of a data breach through unsecured apps for official meetings in the lockdown is being a major concern, zoom app has been detected as a part of mediums to cybercrimes. It was observed that hackers were able to get access to the meeting IDs and the passwords and during the online lectures or other official meetings, inappropriate content used to come up out of nowhere. Hacking comes under Sec.66 of I.T. Act 2000, which is punishable with imprisonment up to three years, or with fine up to two lakh rupees, or with both.

In India, internet security is not taken seriously which has resulted in the rise to cybercrimes in the pandemic. Social media has always played a part in fraud and insecure web browsing, for example, the Cambridge Analytica scandal which shook the world for internet security and a big alert for social media security.

It is reportedly suggested a constant rise of cybercrimes through viruses, emails, SMS, and phone calls, frauds related to baking and transactions have also risen since April. The data leak or transferring of the personal information without the consent of the user is a crime under Sec.70, unapproved access to a personal protected system and Sec.72 for breach of and privacy under Information Technology Act, 2000.

The rise in cybercrimes in different Indian states 

STATES WITH cyber crimes 

Number of cyber crimesin COVID-19 lockdown

Karnataka

              12,007

Uttar Pradesh

                9,353

Assam 

                1,989

Telangana

                1,629

Maharashtra 

                4,967

The I.T capital of India Hyderabad has been reported 1,300 cases under the information technology Act, in the year 2020 the city has a 70% increase in cybercrimes. 

Similarly, Bangalore and another I.T. hub of India has become the highest reported cybercrime city, with over 10,555 cases in 2019 that have raised in the lockdown simultaneously, making Karnataka the highest number of cybercrimes. This raises questions over safety in India on the internet and cyberspace is, as the I.T hubs of the country are the most affected by cybercrimes. In Maharashtra there is a 40% rise in cyber crimes compared to last year, crimes related to fraud payment and banking have increased in lockdown. Uttar Pradesh and Assam have a comparatively lesser number of cybercrimes to other states, this is probably because of less use of the internet and low digitalisation in the states. 

In the year 2019, 4,4546 cases of cybercrimes were registered as compared to 28,248 in 2018 as per National Crime Record Bureau data (NCRB). The rise of cybercrimes has already started since last year, The COVID-19 lockdown that started in early 2020 has made a repulsive effect on cybercrimes.    

Already More than 550 million Indians have connected to the Internet in recent years, fueled by rural growth. But the rapid proliferation of Internet users has also left the country’s public and private sectors vulnerable to a cyber attack. in the lockdown, because most of the work was done online, it gave an open invitation to cyberattacks moreover the Indian cybersecurity is weak to protect the internet user.  

There is a dramatic rise in cybercrimes across the country, cyberattacks have soared 86% in the four weeks between March and April, a recent Reuters report quoting Indian Home Ministry officials and detailing “fake offers from telecom and streaming services like Netflix Inc, offering discounted services” in the lockdown.

The rise in cybercrimes has targeted general citizen’s wallets and personal data given the sharp increase in the percentage of the Indian corporate workforce. The online corporate workers and digital payment users are the easy targets of cyberattacks. 

Strengthening India’s Cyber Defenses

Strict Data Protection Laws 

It is important to have strict data protection laws in India as the right to privacy is a fundamental right of every person guaranteed by the constitution of India, it is important to have strict regulations that protect the privacy of persons despite the existing circumstances. In European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation (“GDPR”) data is secured by effective regulation on personal data of users, this has reduced the threat to privacy. Therefore, after ensuring similar aims of such laws the application of artificial intelligence aimed for Covid-19 should be structured.

Data processing agreement

Any parties that act as data processors on their behalf of the data controllers must also sign a data processing agreement. As per Article 28 of the GDPR, rights and obligations of each party regarding the protection of personal data of their users are a present legally binding contract which lays down the data processing agreement to make transparency visible.  

Data Protection evaluation

To make the software more secure prior to being in the hands of the user a data protection impact assessment must be conducted by the companies offering artificial intelligence and software solutions on devices by testing them on various levels before launching them. This would help to prevent a threat to the users and make a user-friendly mechanism. The governmental websites need to have much strong data protection evaluation to protect the official data online.  

User-friendly mechanism 

There is a need for more user-friendly machine learning tools to make the users understand and feel safe while browsing on the internet. Most of the users are unknown of the internet websites and threats, this illiteracy of the internet users in India makes them a victim of cybercrimes.  

There is a need for the user-friendly cyber policy along with an impactful and applicable security system that includes training users, system analyses and quick response and assistance where a user helped in using the secure network. 

Conclusion

In the time of pandemic with the rise in cybercrimes, with the growing rate of internet users, there is a demand for a user-friendly law that protects the internet users and makes the users reliable to use the internet. After going through all the types of cybercrimes and judicial pronouncements one can easily make out that there is poor implementation and deliberate ignorance to the provision for the infringement of rights of the internet users.

If the rights of the user are violated in cyberspace there is no fixed provision that can be applied directly, but a mix of various provisions and laws to bring it under one umbrella. There is a vital need for amendment of the consumer protection act and the information technology Act to bring the infringement of the rights of the internet user under the ambit of cybercrimes

In the virtual conference of Roadmap for Digital Cooperation UN secretary-general said:

“if we do not come together now around using digital technology for good, we will lose a significant opportunity to manage its impact, and we could see further fragmentation of the internet, to the detriment of all.”


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