Let's Build a Responsible Cyber Society

International Conference on Cyber Crimes

A three day International seminar on Cyber Crimes is being organized  in New Delhi, India  from September 12th. It is expected that over 100 participants from 40 different countries would participate and discuss various issues including Cyber Terrorism and ways to combat the same.

Coming in the wake of the Dan Egarsted's exposure that mostof the Indian embassies exchange confidential e-mails which can be easily hacked and most officials use such grand passwords such as "1234" the conference provides a platform for the much needed debate on how well is India prepared to combat "Cyber Crimes".

Various global organisations like UNODC, Council of Europe, Europol, G8 and UNICRI (United Nation Inter-regional Crime Research Institute) as well as Central organisations of India will participate in the meet. Private and public sector companies like MIEL-eSecurity, eBay, TCS, Microsoft, SYMANTEC and C-DAC will also take part in it.

The conference is a great opportunity to break fresh grounds in combating Cyber Crimes in India. However there are certain key issues which are hindering the fight against Cyber terrorism in India and hopefully they will be adequately addressed in the conference.

In India Cyber Crimes are today dealt with at two levels. Offences declared in IPC committed with the use of ICT are one set of Cyber Crimes which are handled under the constraints of IPC and CrPC. The laws under IPC are effective but they need to be supported during prosecution by appropriate management of "Cyber Evidence". There is a serious lacuna in the knowledge and skills in handling Cyber Evidence and this is an area where improvements are required to be made if Cyber Crime prosecutions are to increase.

The second set of offences that are recognized as Cyber Crimes are the offences recognized under Information Technology Act 2000 (ITA-2000). This mainly includes Section 66 (Diminishing the value of information residing inside the Computer), Section 70 (Attempt to access a protected system). Section 65 (Deletion of information required to be kept for a certain time under law) is of marginal significance and Section 67 (Obscenity in electronic form)  which is important at the victim's level. The sections 71 to 74 relate to crimes involving digital signatures which are yet to surface.

Though a separate fast track judicial system was adopted for contraventions of ITA 2000, these address only settlement of compensations and does not address the issue of Cyber Crime prosecutions. These are handled by the regular criminal courts where hundreds of cases already filed are languishing. There are many cases where wrong persons are victimized by motivated prosecutors while many of the criminals remain untouched.

Even before the system of Cyber Crime Justice can take a firm foundation, there is an attemp to amend ITA 2000 weakeing it substantially and making prosecution even more difficult.

It is therefore necessary that in debating the subject of Cyber Crimes at International level the key issues to be debated are

a) Is there an adequate legal support through appropriate legislation?

b) Does the law recognize the usual crimes and provide for adequate punishment which could act as a deterrent?

c) Is there an effective mechanism to enlist the support of "Intermediaries" in combating Cyber Crimes?

d) Is the law enforcement mechanism effective?

e) Is there an adequate knowledge dissemination about the laws in the community to cause enough deterrence?

f) Are our forensic labs adequately equipped to investigate Cyber Crimes?

g) Is there an effective "Cyber Intelligence" set up in the country to support prevention of Cyber Crimes?

h) Are Police immune from the influence of politicians and money in carrying out investigations?

i) Is there a mechanism for Inter state cooperation of Police units?

j) Is there a mechanism for cooperation between state police units and CBI ?

k) Is there a mechanism for cooperation between Private Sector and the Law enforcement?

l) Is there a recognition that "Cyber Terrorism" targets "Soft targets" such as the "Banking" systems which needs to be secured?

m) Is there a recognition that the Government officials are one of the lease Security concious IT users as demonstrated recently by the Swedish Hacker Dan egarstad?

n) Does a Country which does not have the will to implement an order of the Court to execute a terrorist like Afzal Guru have the necessary will to combat "Cyber Terrorism"?

o) . Does an apex criminal investigation authority like CBI which dances to the tune of politicians in prosecuting criminals have the necessary professionalism to combat "Cyber Crimes?"

p)  Does a system where "Inter State Cooperation" is still a myth, raise to the level of "International Cooperation"?

Naavi.org has been debating these issues for a long time and also suggesting solutions for consideration. It is now time for the wisemen who will congregate at the Conference to consider these and any other issue that may be raised.

Debating is the essential step towards finding solutions but Let's not stop with mere debating but try to implement at least a few of the suggestions.

CBI has succeeded in hosting this high profile International Conference. Let it also ensure that the effort will not go without appropriate follow up.


September 10, 2007

Related Article: Report in Chennai online