As India is taking more and more digital initiatives in E Commerce, E Banking and now the Digital Payment mechanisms, there is an increasing fear that Cyber Crimes will continue to grow. In the recent times, Cyber Crimes are also being used as a tool of Terrorism and Wars and unless we are efficient in managing Cyber Crime, it would be difficult to tackle the menace of Cyber Terrorism and Cyber Wars.
Naavi.org has been frequently raising the issue of a need to improve our Cyber Policing system to ensure that Cyber Criminals are caught and punished. Naavi is also personally involved in training of Cyber Crime police since 2000 when the laws first came into existence in India.
At one level we feel that there is a need to “Increase awareness” and “Build Cyber Crime investigation Skills” in the Police and this will improve the situation. If the recommendations of the T K Vishwanathan Committee report (as leaked) is implemented, ITA 2000/8 will be amended to make it possible for Sub Inspectors to investigate Cyber Crimes. This would mean that a lot more Police Stations will be involved in the Cyber Crime investigations in the coming days and more and more people need to be trained.
However, Naavi has also pointed out that the emphasis of Cyber Crime Management cannot end with creating “Awareness” and conducting training programs whether under the banner of Police Academies, Law Colleges or DSCI. Though we can show statistics of such outreach programs indicating that there are thousands of police officers with a good awareness of Cyber Crimes, the number of successful investigations and Prosecutions is still very low. Many of the prosecutions have been sustained because the cases were pursued along with some IPC sections and had they been pursued only under ITA 2000/8, the cases would have failed. Judiciary has not been kind to Cyber Police with the scrapping of Section 66A.
The Cyber Crime victims therefore have been left completely unsatisfied about getting their grievances redressed through legal means. With the Adjudication system unable to take off and Cyber Appellate Tribunal being in eternal closure mode, the Civil proceedings are also not moving smoothly. For every dispute there is now a need to move the High Court and this is not feasible for most of the crimes.
If therefore a survey is conducted with Cyber Crime Victims, they would unanimously conclude that there is no effective Cyber Crime Police in India.
Recently, I had approached Mumbai Cyber Crime Cell for a simple e-mail based crime and the Police have been taking ages to respond. The possibility of the Police being unable to conclude the investigation in this case is therefore very high.
As I have indicated in my earlier article the efficiency of the Cyber Crime Police seems to have deteriorated in the current times compared to the days the undersigned entered the Cyber Crime investigation because the intermediaries like Google, Yahoo and ISPs seem to value the rights of Criminals or Suspected Criminals in hiding their IDs which puts several hurdles before the Police can come anywhere near them. All the training and awareness workshops have yielded very little benefit to the common man.
If this situation is not brought under control, we will have a chaotic situation that will prevail in the country.
We as a society have to therefore initiate some concrete steps to arrest the deteriorating situation and ensure that our Cyber Crime Police become more efficient.
In this direction, we have discussed many suggestions in the past. But it is now time to gather more scientific information from the market on What is causing problems delaying Cyber Crime Investigations and frustrating Cyber Crime prosecutions.
It has therefore been felt that we need to conduct an all India survey to gather a reliable information through a survey and involving as many stake holders as possible.
Public are the final stake holders and we need to gather their views to understand what they feel about the problem.
But another important part of the target audience is informed professionals in the Cyber Crime investigation and prosecution and the Police themselves.
Many solutions have to come from within the Police.
The suggestion of the TK Vishwanathan Committee leaked report seems to have indicated that some amendments to CrPC would help and there could be more that can be attempted if there is need.
Scope of Survey
The Cyber Crime Management has a wide scope which includes
a) Prevention of Cyber Crimes
b) Reporting of Cyber Crimes
c) Detection of Cyber Crimes
d) Identification of offences as per law
e) Primary identification of the device responsible for the offence including the IP address, Mobile Number etc
f) Identification of the individual behind the device identification
g) Collecting evidence in a proper form admissible in a Court
h) Cooperation with inter state and inter national agencies
i) Improving the Legal system for Criminal complaints
j) Improving the Legal system for Civil Claims which includes the Adjudication and Cyber Appellate tribunals
k) Encouraging Alternate Dispute Resolution Mechanisms to aid and assist the formal judicial system
l) Role of Cyber Crime Insurance in mitigating the losses of the public
m) Role of RBI, the Banking Ombudsman, the Zero Liability circular of RBI, the CERT IN etc
When I floated the thought of conducting a survey to “Improve the Cyber Crime Investigations in India” in some of the professional groups, the response was overwhelming. Many have come forward to share their thoughts and participate in conducting the survey.
After further discussions, we will finalize how the survey would be conducted.
We can even handle the requirement in stages with small achievable targets to be taken in the beginning.
The first task I would like to focus is “Improvements in the Cyber Crime Investigation System” . This may include how we identify and record potential crimes quickly and how quickly we can bring the investigation of identifying the suspect within the “Golden hour” of crime. This should be followed by identification of evidence required to be collected and collecting them properly without adversely affecting their validity in a Court of Law.
The expertise and equipment required upto this stage is minimal and it is not difficult to equip every Police Station to have this capability within a short time.
After this stage the Case will take a turn either into a Civil proceeding or continue as a Criminal proceeding even while the victim pursues civil remedies. Some cases get closed at this stage itself.
If we are able to improve the “Time To Identifying the Suspect” then there will be a high level of public satisfaction.
Further delays may still happen in the Judicial Process where the need for ADR (Check out the concept of Cyber Dispute Mediation and Arbitration Center or CDMAC) becomes relevant.
Beyond this, there will still be issues such as higher level of Forensic capability and international cooperation through treaties. These are issues that need to be tackled later.
If Awareness is the major issue, it should be handled on a war footing. If there are other issues, we need to address them involving appropriate agencies. If the issue is non cooperation of intermediaries like Google and Facebook, it may have to be tackled with the involvement of the MeiTy.
These and other related issues would be part of the survey when a questionnaire has to be designed.
I have placed some of my initial thoughts here so that we can together develop a scope document which is not too broad and unmanageable.
I invite responses from all concerned persons either through comments here or through email.