Cyber Terrorism in Action
The recent incidents in India following a
series of SMS messages being circulated to threaten people of
Assamese origin living in different parts of India back to Assam
has thrown open discussions on whether it is an act of "Cyber
Terrorism" or "Cyber War" or a combination of both.
It was clear that the objective of the
exercise was to instill a feeling of fear and terrorize a
section of people and force them to take action which adversely
affected their sense of freedom and nationhood.
The means used was to send "False" SMSes as
well as post doctored pictures with malicious intention of
inciting violence in various social network sites and blogs.
The effect was creating a sense of insecurity
By every normal yardstick the developments
qualify to be classified as an act of "Terrorism" .
The Bangalore police in the meantime have
arrested three persons who have been responsible for sending the
messages. The big question however is whether the arrested
persons have been charged for "Terrorism" or for some other
We also have a "Digvijay Singh" of Karnataka
in the name of "G. Parameshwar" who has tried to mislead the
police by stating that RSS is responsible for the sending of the
messages. Promptly the BJP has alleged that Congress may be
involved. Bangalore Police must therefore be trying to balance
"National Interests" with "Political Interests".
In the aftermath of the recent spate of
violence promoting SMSes, Government has temporarily banned bulk
SMSes from prepaid mobile phones. In Bangalore, the home
minister Mr R. Ashoka has met Muslim leaders and tried to seek
their help in preventing further deterioration of the situation.
May be the situation will limp back to normalcy in the next week
But it is necessary for us to think if this
is an isolated event and cannot repeat at some point in future.
If so we need to debate if the present measures are sufficient
to prevent recurrence of such events.
In this context it would be essential for
Karnataka Police and the Government to build enough deterrence
so that people should think several times before indulging in
such anti national activities.
It also becomes essential to observe
how the Bangalore Police will handle the incident and the three
persons who have been arrested. If the arrests have been made
under "Disruption of Public Order", they are likely to be
released without the charges being pressed. At best they may be
booked under a low order crime and let out on bail. This will
effectively please all political interests and even the faction
ridden BJP Government in the state may be happy to close the
incident at the earliest.
This may also be convenient to the Police
since the arrested persons are reported to be those who were
earlier providing assistance to police in resolving Cyber Crimes
and are therefore otherwise friendly with them.
However, if the offence is booked as a
"Terrorist" act and the arrested persons are tried for an
offence which has "Life Imprisonment" as a punishment, there
would be a better deterrence against repeat of such events.
Police should therefore examine provisions of
law especially Section 66F of ITA 2008 whether this incident can
be booked as "Cyber Terrorism". This will also be a test
of law if Section 66F was drafted properly in the first place.
In interpreting Section 66F, the key may be
to interpret the words "without authorization". In the instant
case, the perpetrators of the crime have accessed the SMS system
and some websites and used the services to commit the crime. The
service providers which may be the MSPs or the hosting companies
or the domain name registrars had not provided the service to be
used for the purpose of such terrorist activities. Hence it
would amount to "Unauthorised access" of the service.
Hence there is a good reason for the incident
to be booked under Section 66F of ITA 2008.
While the action against the local persons
can be initiated as "Cyber Terrorism", the evidences if any abut
the involvement of Pakistan sources indicate that there could
also be an angle of "Cyber War". This needs to be handled by the
Government of India appropriately as per known international
August 20, 2012
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