Let's Build a Responsible Cyber Society




Pakistani Cricket Official Sacked for E-Mail Leak

In an incident reminiscent of the earlier incident in India when an email sent by the then coach Greg Chappell to the BCCI president was leaked to the press, former Pakistani Test player Saleem Altaf as Director, Special Projects was sacked on charges of leaking of his e-mail to Pakistani team manager Talat Ali, where he had criticized the Pakistani team for their performance against India in the Bangladesh tri-series. Pakistani Board officials reportedly  said the decision to sack Altaf came after the chairman ordered his telephone to be bugged and recorded some eight hours of discussions he had with various people.

From the Cyber law angle, this case refers to the publishing of one's own e-mail sent to another. This can be considered as in-discipline under the Board's rules but not an offence under law. However the "Tapping" of telephone could be considered as an offence under law.

This case reflects a tendency of some people to resort to illegal means to prove what may otherwise be a legitimate cause. In the process they end up making a bigger mistake than the accused and face an awkward situation.

A similar incident also happened in the Indian context. When Mr Saurav Ganguly attended the enquiry following the Chappell incident, he was reported to have carried 11 e-mails sent by Chappell at various times to the BCCI about his behaviour etc. All these were confidential e-mails. The natural question that comes to the mind was "How did he get the e-mails"? Other questions that arise are "Did the recipient gave copies?"  "Was the recipient then a "Witness" for Ganguly?" etc. (Ofcourse none of the enquiry officials were Cyber Law aware to raise these issues !)

In fact the first instance of leakage itself pointed out to a possible Section 66 offence under ITA 2000 since according to a report in India Today which appeared at that time, it was one of the Indian players who was going through the contents of Chappells laptop in search of some music files who stumbled upon the interesting e-mail sent to the BCCI and made it public. If this was true, the player had committed "hacking" in Indian law.

However these legal issues never got discussed during that time. These are pointed out here only from the point of view of the interesting legal issues they raise and not to re-open the controversy.

I had come across another incident in Bangalore where a similar incident has occurred. In this case a CEO of a Company engaged the services of an ethical hacker to extract some e-mails sent by one of its consultants and based on one such e-mail filed a criminal complaint on "Breach of Trust" etc. The law firm which drafted the complaint failed to notice that in making the complaint they were unwittingly admitting to a more serious crime of hacking and obviously the counter complaint was filed. Perhaps the Cyber Crime Police Station which received both complaints must be still resolving how to handle this case.

These incidents highlights the role of "Ethical Hackers" in private investigations. By using their technical skills without legal authority they are not only committing offences themselves but also weakening the case of their principals.

It is high time that these technical wizards understand that unless their investigations are "legally Compliant" they may be doing more harm than good to the cause of their employer.


June 13, 2008