Social Media and Cyber Law

Akshaya Lal, DSNLU, Vishakhapatnam

As the influence of social media has increased, the number of cyber-crimes has also increased significantly. India has legislation governing crimes committed in cyberspace which deals with the cyber-crime and electronic commerce.

The present time is known as the social media age. The term social media can be known as websites or applications which are used to socially connect, share and participate.

Social media has become an integral part of the lives of the people since the past decade, and its use is not only limited to communication but also to voice opinions and mobilise people. Social media also has given a platform to people to showcase their talent.

As the influence of social media has increased, the number of cyber-crimes has also increased significantly. The exponential growth and impact have lured the cybercriminals to commit cyber-crimes on it. In today’s age, cyber-crime is present in many forms such as privacy, defamation, terrorism, obscenity and so on.

India has legislation governing crimes committed in cyberspace, The Information Technology Act, 2000. It is the primary law in India which deals with cyber-crime and electronic commerce.


LEGISLATIVE PROVISIONS FOR PROTECTION IN INDIA AGAINST cyber-crimes ON SOCIAL MEDIA


Violation of privacy

Section 66(E) of the Information Technology Act, 2000 covers the provision for punishment for violation of privacy.

The section states that any person who captures publishes or transmits the image of a private area of any person without the consent of that person, violating the privacy of that person shall be punished. The punishment in the section given is that the convict can be imprisoned for a term which may extend to 3 years or fine which should not be extending 2 lakh rupees or both.


Section 72 of the I.T. Act, 2000 states that any person who has gained access to any electronic record or material without the consent of the person concerned discloses such electronic record or material shall be punished with imprisonment for a term which may be extended to two years along with a fine which may be extended to one lakh rupees. The objective of the section is to prevent people from getting unauthorised access and taking unfair advantage of the information and disclosing such information without the consent of the person concerned.


Section 72A was introduced for the protection of information given by a person to his service provider.

The section provides security to the person giving information to the service provider, as if the service provider to whom such information has been given, discloses it without the knowledge or consent of the user by whom the information was given and in breach of a lawful contract with the intent or with the knowledge that it is likely to cause wrongful loss or wrongful gain to any other person he shall be liable to be punished with imprisonment for a term which may extend to 3 years or fine which may extend to 5 lakh rupees or with both fine and imprisonment.


Publishing or transmitting obscene material in electronic form

Section 67 of the Information Technology Act, 2000 covers the provisions for punishment for publishing or transmitting obscene material in electronic form.

The section goes on to state that a person shall be punishable with imprisonment up to 3 years and a maximum of 5 lakh rupees of fine in case of first conviction and five years of imprisonment and fine up to ten lakh in case of a second conviction when he publishes any material in electronic form which is “lascivious” and has a tendency to a corrupt person mind.


Publishing or transmitting of material containing sexually explicit act etc. in electronic form

Section 67A of the Act covers the provision for punishment for publishing or transmitting of material containing sexually explicit acts etc. in electronic form.

The section goes on to state that if a person publishes or transmits any material in electronic form which contains sexually explicit act or conduct shall be punished on a first conviction for a term which can be extended to 5 years along with a fine of 10 lakh rupees. In the event of a second conviction, the fine can be extended up to 10 lakh and imprisonment which may be extended to 7 years.


Child pornography

Section 67B of the Act states about the punishment for publishing or transmitting material showing children in the sexually explicit act, etc., in electronic form.

Namely five instances of online child pornography have been criminalized in the section which is quoted as:

“a. Publishing or transmitting or trying to publish or transmit material in any electronic form which depicts children in a sexually explicit act or conduct;

b. Creating text or digital images, collecting, seeking, browsing, downloading, advertising, promoting, exchanging or distributing material in any electronic form depicting children in obscene or indecent or sexually explicit manner;

c. Cultivating, enticing, or inducing children to online relationship with one or more children for and on a sexually explicit act or in a manner that they may offend a reasonable adult on the computer resource;

d. Facilitating abusing children online, and

e. Recording in any electronic form of abuse or that of others about sexually explicit acts with children.”

The criminal is punishable with imprisonment which may extend to five years on first conviction and with fine which may extend to ten lakh rupees and second or subsequent conviction with imprisonment up to seven years and with fine which may extend to ten lakh rupees.

Cyber Stalking

Cyber-stalking can be understood as the use of the internet to harass or frighten someone. Cyber-stalking involves the act of harassment or contact in an unsolicited fashion using the internet.

With the addition of section 354D to the Criminal Law (Amendment) Act, 2013 a specific provision for criminalizing stalking and punishment for committing the offence of stalking.

Cyber-stalking is an electronic way of real-life stalking and the internet is the forum where a person can terrorize the victim as anonymity leaves the cyber-stalker in an advantageous position. This anonymity can be achieved by using several methods such as finding and using obsolete versions of computer software called ‘Mail Daemons’ or entering false user details during online registration of free guest accounts.

Cyber-stalking may involve electronic sabotage where a cyber-stalker may send hundreds of threatening or harassing e-mail messages by using sophisticated software that sends e-mail messages at regular or random intervals without the perpetrator being physically present at the computer terminal.

A person can also be charged under Section 66A (a) & (b) of the IT Act, 2000 for sending any information which is grossly offensive or has a menacing character or he knows to be false but to cause annoyance, injury, hatred etc. persistently, using a computer resource or a communication device.


Hacking

Hacking can be known as an act in which someone else’s private information is accessed without the express or implied permission of the owner.

The New Hacker’s Dictionary defines a hacker as such a person ‘who enjoys exploring the details of programmable systems and how to stretch their capabilities; one who programs enthusiastically, even obsessively.’

Hacking is a preplanned process. A target computer or a target source is identified, the security features are known and studied. To get into the system or the source tools are developed. This whole process results in unauthorized access to the information. It is one of the most popular and the fastest rising crimes because of the vast availability of the internet and also technological advances.


Internet Fraud

Section 66C of the Act provides punishment for identity theft.

It is for the protection of the privacy and their personal information or data of all or any online user. It is to protect the details of any person which may be in the form of electronic signatures, passwords or PINs and biometric identifiers or any such other unique identification feature used electronically.

The section states that any person who fraudulently or with a dishonest intention makes use of an electronic signature or a password shall be punished with imprisonment with a term which may extend to 3 years along with fine which may be extended to 1 lakh rupees.

Any person who using deception and with a fraudulent or dishonest intent induces a person to accept or agree to transact or deliver any data or information or induces the person to omit any data using any computer resource or device commits the crime under this section.


REFERENCES:


Legislatures Referred:

  1. Information Technology Act, 2000

Websources Referred:

  1. Blog.ipleaders.in

  2. www.researchgate.in

  3. www.lexico.com

  4. www.legalsections.com

  5. www.scconline.in

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