Let's Build a Responsible Cyber Society



Compulsive Cyber Offence Syndrome

 Consider this case:

A well educated software professional working in Infosys is traveling in train from his native place to Delhi. He has to catch a flight to Bangalore. The train is getting delayed. He feels that he may miss his flight. Now, what does he do?

Sit quietly and resign to the fact that he may miss his flight?.. he will then lose the money because the airlines will not refund the money. He may get delayed reporting back to work...

So, What does he do?.. picks up his mobile, makes a call to the Airport and tells them that there is a bomb planted around the plane...

Reaches Delhi... comes panting to the reporting counters..only to be encountered by the Anti Terrorism Squad which pick him up and promptly put him behind bars accusing him of a terrorist threat.

Now the promising career of the person has gone for a toss...

Did he not foresee this possibility when he made the call? Was he dumb enough to think that the call would not be traced to him?.. It is impossible to believe... But the fact is he still went about making the call.

Ask him now when he is in saner state of mind, if some body tells him that he would be going to jail if he does some act, will he do it?.. Probably, he will say no. Then why did he do it?

Such things often occur in our life. Many of the Cyber Crimes are of this nature.

How should we respond to this situation?

Obviously, Police cannot ignore such threats and have to act and also give a proportionate punishment if they think that the caller was irresponsible.

What should the person himself do later? What should his family do? are questions to which we need to find answers.

Speaking from the psychological angle, it should be recognized that there is a need to find out if the person is likely to repeat the mistake once he is let off. Even if the Court wants to take a lenient view, it would like to be confirmed that the person may not repeat the mistake again. Same thing holds good for a Company.

Some times, Companies do spot "Deviant behavioural Tendencies" in their staff. At such times, they need to take some corrective action so that the deviant behavioural tendency does not manifest itself into a crime.

 These are the instances when we need to recognize that amidst us are some people who have the "Compulsive Cyber Offence Syndrome". These are people who use Cyber devices to commit an offence knowing well that it is an offence and if caught, they will be punished and if punished, their future is sealed in darkness. The syndrome is very much like "Kleptomania", a desire to steal.

The "Compulsive Cyber Offence Syndrome" (CCO syndrome) which we may also call "Cyber Offence Mania" is a result of the factor that the subject person may also suffer from "Technology Intoxication", a state of mind in which a person feels that he is more powerful than people around him because he has a mastery over technology. In this intoxicated state, he tends to drop his natural anchors and do things which are silly and land him into trouble.

The Cyber Offence Mania also is contributed by the fact that most IT professionals have what is otherwise a positive trait of "Challenging the Unknown". They find solutions to the problem by a process of "Challenging". The problem arises when this tendency to "Challenge" transcends into "Challenging the Authority".

When a non IT person needs to challenge the authority, he will fight with his boss verbally. But an IT person will use methods such as sending an abusive e-mail or sending a defamatory message to others etc.

When we handle the CC mania, we must also remember that we are dealing with people on whom the society has already made a substantial investment and preserving this investment is desirable. We should not therefore be happy that let this man go to dogs. We need to find ways to mend him if possible.

While we leave the question of what the Court should do in such cases, to the Judges, in the Corporate world, the HR managers need to decide how to handle what they perceive as "A tendency to show deviant behaviour" if spotted during the functioning of an employee.

One suggestion is that the person should be sent for appropriate counseling.

In order to work towards this end, a center for correcting the "Compulsive Cyber Offense Syndorme" is being planned in Bangalore where qualified and trained persons would offer such counseling services.  This will be part of the Cyber Crime Complaints and Resolution Assistance Center (CCC-RAC) which is being supported by Naavi.org. If any body is interested in participating in the development of the Center for Correcting Compulsive Cyber Offence Syndrome, they are welcome to contact Naavi at naavi@vsnl.com


November 12, 2009

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