Cyber crime victims wait for months for justice in India - Alternative Media Forum


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Saturday, 18 April 2015

Cyber crime victims wait for months for justice in India

Mumbai,Azaan Javaid: Recently a fake tweet on prime minister Narendra Modi enraged his wide-spread support base on social media, yet there wasn't much the Delhi Police's cyber cell department could do. Officials in the department say that social media is not very cooperative. Due to this investigative work flows at a snail's pace.

It took two years to get Twitter's law enforcement team to act on a complaint filed by current finance minister Arun Jaitely in 2011 about a fake Twitter handle in his name. This gives an idea of how slow work on low priority cases could get.

There were 63, 64 and 27 cases in 2013, 2014 and 2015 respectively. The number of arrests made for cyber crimes has so far been seven with two in 2013, four in 2014 and one in 2015. The complaints involve fake profiles, social media bullying, defamation, morphed/nude images and so on.

"Initially, we tried to reach out to every social media website to establish channels other than the already existing norms but we haven't been successful in our attempt," said BK Singh, deputy commissioner of police, Economic Offences Wing (EOW).

Under the existing norms a letter rogatory process is followed, said Singh. In this process, once the police complaint is registered the cyber cell department investigates whether the case falls in their domain. In cases where local IP addresses are used for crime, action can be taken. But when it comes to cases where coordination with social media websites is required, it becomes a Herculean task.

"The complaint is transferred from the cyber cell to national-level probing agencies which coordinate with the ministry of home affairs. The complaint is also sent to the ministry of external affairs. The MEA further contacts the external affairs ministry of the respective country where the particular social media website is based. The whole process could take months depending on how agencies in foreign countries respond," said Singh. The issue however doesn't end there.

"Sometimes websites refuse to give information on various grounds, including freedom of speech because some activities are considered criminal in India and may not fall in the category of offences in other countries," said an investigating officer of the cyber cell.

"Facebook and Google cooperate with us and provide information. Twitter is slow in providing information and Whatsapp has never responded to any complaints," the officer said. While crimes like the creation of fake profiles of politicians and celebrities is still 'manageable', authorities express concern on crimes like morphed or nude pictures of individuals.
"The government's cyber security arm, the computer emergency response team, is only authorised to block sites operational in India but a morphed image of somebody can be viewed in other countries. Blocking access to such images in India is hardly a relief to the victim. Social media websites don't understand the urgency at times," said another officer of the cyber cell.
Interestingly, social media sites like Twitter and Whatsapp did not respond to queries from dna.

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