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Online Revenge Porn-Recourse for Victims under Cyber Laws

– Advocate Puneet Bhasin, Cyber Law Expert, Cyberjure Legal Consulting
http://www.cyberjure.com

revenge porn
Online Revenge Porn means that when there are relationship break ups, then either party puts up nude pictures of the other or videos of their intimate moments on social networking media, blogs and other websites. Online Revenge Porn is on the rise world over with the advent of an open arena of the internet. Most online porn in India is amateur porn or revenge porn. World over, every country has enacted specific legislation to deal with revenge porn.
UK is coming out with the Revenge Porn Law. Many US States already have their Revenge porn laws. Virginia also has a revenge porn law and on 20th October, 2014 the first person was charged and convicted under their law.
In India we do not have a separate Revenge Porn Law, but Sections 67, 67-A and 66-A of the Information Technology Act, 2000 make online publication of Revenge porn a punishable offence.
Section 67 reads as under:
Punishment for publishing or transmitting obscene material in electronic form. -Whoever publishes or transmits or causes to be published or transmitted in the electronic form, any material which is lascivious or appeals to the prurient interest or if its effect is such as to tend to deprave and corrupt persons who are likely, having regard to all relevant circumstances, to read, see or hear the matter contained or embodied in it, shall be punished on first conviction with imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to three years and with fine which may extend to five lakh rupees and in the event of second or subsequent conviction with imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to five years and also with fine which may extend to ten lakh rupees.
This section makes a person liable for transmitting or causing to transmit nude photos or content of the nature that it can deprave/corrupt the viewer of such content.
When people are in relationships, they tend to share nude or naughty photos of themselves with each other, and these photos are misused by the jilted partner in the event of a break up.
A victim can seek recourse under Section 67 in such a case.
Section 67 A of the Information Technology Act reads as under:
“Punishment for publishing or transmitting of material containing sexually explicit act, etc. in electronic form. – Whoever publishes or transmits or causes to be published or transmitted in the electronic form any material which contains sexually explicit act or conduct shall be punished on first conviction with imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to five years and with fine which may extend to ten lakh rupees and in the event of second or subsequent conviction with imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to seven years and also with fine which may extend to ten lakh rupees.”
This section also criminalizes the act of any party transmitting via email, MMS or video any act or conduct of explicit nature which the parties indulged in during the course of the relationship.
A victim can file a complaint with the Cyber Police Station along with filing an FIR in the Police Station.
In India we definitely need separate and comprehensive revenge porn laws along with an efficient judicial mechanism to deal with these offences in short duration of time. Many countries have a National Helpline along with a separate Cell to deal with Online Revenge Porn, as these matters require immediate redressal before the video goes viral. A National Helpline for revenge should be set up in India too, where victims can complain and there would be immediate pull down of the content from the internet. Most developed countries have enacted specific laws for the same already because of the huge increase in Revenge porn in the virtual world.
Disclaimer: This article is purely for educational purpose and is not in the nature of legal advice. It does not constitute any lawyer-client relationship between the author and the reader.

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Work From Home- Cyber Crime Scams….Are you a Victim?

– Advocate Puneet Bhasin, Cyber Lawyer, Cyberjure Legal Consulting

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The Work From Home concept is very attractive for most people, as the advertisements offer huge sums of money for a few hours of simple work. But would you really be paid well for doing nothing much! If it is too good to be true, then it probably is not true!

The modus operandi is usually attractive advertisements on websites, public places and social media. The application procedure involves filling up a form with all your details and you have to purchase a welcome kit. If you refer more people then you get paid a percentage for each reference that materializes, so basically you make other people also fall prey to the scam.

The scope of work is mostly like:

  • Envelope stuffing (mailing programs)
  • Assembly work
  • Gifting programs
  • Email processing
  • Rebate processing
  • Repackaging
  • Payment processing
  • Jobs that ask for money to hire you
  • Businesses that don’t have an evident product or service.

If you are a victim of a work from home scam, then cyber laws has recourse for you.If the scammers use your personal data to make fake profiles and commit any crimes, then they are liable under Section 66-D for Cyber Personation, which is punishable with imprisonment upto 3 years and a fine.

The scammers are liable for Identity Theft under Section 66-C if they use your password or any other unique identification feature.

The scammers are liable under Section 43 of the Information Technology Act makes unauthorized access an offence, and Section 43 A makes a Company liable for breach of privacy and confidentiality by payment of compensation to the victim for failure to protect data.

The data that you provide to the scammers is priceless. Along with your personal information they have your credit card data too and misuse the same. When you purchase the welcome kit you may not be directed to a safe payment portal. This renders you vulnerable credit card frauds. And your personal data is sold to marketing companies without your consent.

A leading case of this type of scam was when the Cyber Crime Cell of Crime Branch, C.I.D., Mumbai Police arrested a person by name Sripathi Guruprasanna Raj, aged 52 years old, who is the Chairman and Managing Director of Sohonet India Private Ltd., a company based in Chennai. Many complainants based in Mumbai had complained to the Cyber Crime Investigation Cell, that the said company has duped them each for Rs. 4,000/- and Rs. 6,000/- by promising them with monthly income of Rs. 15,000/-.

Cyber Crime Cell of Crime Branch, C.I.D., Mumbai Police have arrested a person by name Sripathi Guruprasanna Raj, aged 52 yrs who is the Chairman and Managing Director of Sohonet India Private Ltd., a company based in Chennai. Many complainants based in Mumbai had complained to the Cyber Crime Investigation Cell, that the said company has duped them each for Rs. 4,000/- and Rs. 6,000/- by promising them with monthly income of Rs. 15,000/-. The company had through its website having URL http://www.sohonetindia.com and through various attractive advertisements in the news papers as well as by holding seminars in five star hotels, in various metropolitan cities like Mumbai, Delhi, Kolkata, Bangalore etc. had lured the various computer literate people with attractive schemes named Instant Treasure Pack (ITP) and Green Channel The company then asked the interested people to register with their company for which they charged the registration fees of Rs. 4,000/- which was later increased to Rs. 6,000/-. The company CMD, Mr. Raj promised the people so registered that they would be provided with the data conversion job which would enable them to earn Rs. 15,000/- per month. The company then collected huge amount from the gullible computer users. Some of the users were provided with the job work whereas others were not even provided the job work (data conversion job) assured to them. The users who worked hard and completed the assignments did not receive any payment for the same, and when they tried getting in touch with the company, they received no response.

Work from Home scams are aplenty in India and scammers take advantage of the high rate of unemployment in India along with the house wife system which is popular in India.

A victim must make a complaint in the prescribed format to the Adjudicating Officer, DIT, Information Technology Act, 2000.

Contact Details- legal.pb@gmail.com

http://www.cyberjure.com

Image– Advocate Puneet Bhasin, Cyber Law Expert, Cyberjure Legal Consulting

The ambit of Article 21 of the Constitution has embraced the Right to Privacy within its ambit. The Supreme Court in the case of State of Maharashtra and anr. v/s. Madhukar Mardikar further laid down that a person of easy virtue is entitled to the right to privacy.

In the digital age, a lot of chapters of our lives are recorded in cell phones, laptops, email accounts and other digital media. As a matter of fact now-a-days emails, sms and chat records constitute important evidence in matrimonial disputes and cases filed under Section 498A of the Indian Penal Code. There are many instances where parties resort to hacking or unauthorized access to obtain such evidence. A simple online search will provide a long list of softwares capable of providing call records, chat history and other personal data from cell phones, which is a complete violation of the fundamental right to privacy.

A major question that arises is that can such tainted evidence be admissible in a Court of law and can a victim resort to obtaining evidence by using these methods. Definitely a victim is entitled to receive justice, but does that justify unauthorized acts on the part of the victim to substantiate his/her claims.

This very issue came up before the Adjudicating Officer, Government of Maharashtra, in the case of Vinod Kaushik & Anr. (R) Noida v/s. Madhvika Joshi and Others (R) Pune.

The facts of this case were very interesting and a common case scenario in today’s times of unauthorized access to data in cyberspace.

Madhvika Joshi (the Respondent No. 1) was an employee of a software company in Pune, and was married to Neeraj Kaushik (the Petitioner No.2). As Madhvika had a troubled matrimonial relationship, she obtained unauthorized access to the email accounts of the petitioners , printed their chat sessions and produced those as evidence to pursue her case under Section 498A of the Indian Penal Code against the petitioners. In pursuance of the same, Madhvika’s husband was arrested by the Delhi Police. Thereafter, her husband filed an application for damages and compensation against the respondents before the Adjudicating Officer, Government of Maharashtra, in connection with the unauthorized access of their email accounts. The Adjudicating officer held Madhvika as “technically guilty” of breaching Section 43 of the Information Technology Act, 2000.

Section 43(a) of the Information Technology Act, 2000, which reads as under:

Penalty and compensation for damage to computer, computer system, etc.-

If any person without permission of the owner or any other person who is in charge of

a computer, computer system or computer network,-

(a)accesses or secures access to such computer, computer

system or computer network (or computer resource).

………..(he shall be liable to pay damages by way of compensation to the person so affected).

A reading of this legal provision makes it clear that the complainant would have to show that the act of unauthorized access has resulted in sufferance of damages. In the present case it was noted by the Adjudicating Officer that Madhvika had used the said information retrieved by her from email accounts of the petitioners only for the purpose of pursuing her case under Sectio 498A of the Indian Penal Code and for no other purpose, and there was no compensation awarded as there was no material damage. Neeraj Kaushik filed a writ petition before the Delhi High Court against the order of the Adjudicating Officer, but the plea of the petitioner was dismissed.

This clearly shows a major lacunae in the wording of Section 43 of the Information Technology Act, where proof of damage is necessary, the fact that the husband was arrested does not constitute occasion giving rise to compensation as the arrest was legitimate in accordance with the relevant provisions of the Indian Penal Code.

However, this case has highlighted the concept of right to privacy even in cyberspace. A spouse cannot check or see the other spouse’s phone chats or emails without their permission, let alone produce it in any legal proceeding as evidence. Even in matrimonial relations, a concept of privacy exists and either spouse cannot intrude into the private space and transgress that boundary.

legal.pb@gmail.com

http://www.cyberjure.com

– Advocate Puneet Bhasin, Cyber Lawyer, Cyberjure Legal Consulting

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Cyber space has certain distinct features like anonymity which make it a very dangerous arena. However, this sense of anonymity is not really true as every person and activity on the internet can be traced, but a layman does not have the knowledge to take recourse to the same when he is a victim of a cyber crime.
Email scams are the most commonly committed cyber crimes in India. Gullible people fall prey to these scams which offer great monetary gains. An Email scam is a hoax distributed in an email form which is designed to deceive and defraud the email recipients for monetary gain.
The most common types of Email scams are as follows:
1. Dating Scam: This is a very charming scam that purports to tug at the strings of your heart but end of the day leaves your wallet empty. These scams originate from random chats on online dating or matrimonial portals where email ids are exchanged for further correspondence. Also in many cases there are emails soliciting for a date by a very beautiful and charming woman that are sent to all email ids that would seemingly belong to men. Responding to such emails leads to exchange of photographs and sharing of personal data along with flirting and building an emotional bond. However, it ends with the scammer being in severe need for money for treatment after an accident or to visit the online lover. However, once the money is transferred all correspondences from the scammers end cease. In many cases they are actually Nigerian men who purport to be beautiful women and solicit men for dates, and that’s why this is a type of Nigerian email scam.
2. Phishing Emails: These emails are all over cyber space. They purport to have been sent by a Bank and have a link which directs you to a webpage which carries the logo and feel of the Bank’s website. They require the recipient to update his records immediately otherwise his accounts would be frozen. Most people panic on receiving such an email and enter their online banking passwords and sensitive data on the webpage. Thereafter, the scammers make unauthorized withdrawals from the victim’s bank accounts. The latest is an email from RBI which asks the recipient of the email to secure his bank account details with RBI, requiring him to mention all the banks in which he has his accounts along with the net banking details, credit card numbers including the secret three digit CVV number.
3. Inheritance Scam: These emails mention that the name of the recipient matches that of the relative of a millionaire who has died intestate abroad. If a victim responds positively to this email, he will receive very genuine looking transfer documents for the property along with a bill for the legal fees that would have to be incurred for the transfer. Once the victim transfers the money, he will never hear from the scammer again.
4. Lottery Scam: This is among the most common types of email scams, where a victim receives an email informing him that he has won a big lottery and he has to pay a certain amount of money as transaction costs to claim the prize money.
5. Extortion scam: This is a very interesting type of email scam. In email scams, the scam emails are sent out to millions of people. These scam emails are threatening in nature and demand security money. They will typically say that I am watching you, and I know your wife and child also, if you don’t pay beware of the consequences. The next email would mention that you think I am not serious, but I have been following you, you wore a white shirt and blue trousers today. Now in reality this is just a psychological play to create fear in the mind of the victim. If you just clearly think, then from all the men who receive that email many would have a wife and child, and most men wear white shirts and blue trousers. It’s a game of probability.
In 2012 a 32 year old man from Indore was arrested for allegedly duping a student from Kandivili of Rs. 1.2 Lakhs through an email lottery scam. The Mumbai Cyber Police cracked this case and apprehended the culprit.
If you are a victim of such a scam, then there is legal recourse under the Information Technology Act, 2000.
Section 66-D of the Information Technology Act, 2000 provides for punishment for cheating by Personation by using a computer resource. This legal provision reads as under:
“Whoever, by means for any communication device or computer resource cheats by personating, shall be punished with imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to three years and shall also be liable to fine which may extend to One Lakh rupees.”
A victim can initiate legal action against such scammers. The first step would be filing a complaint with the Cyber Crime Cell to trace the offenders and thereafter a Complaint should be filed with the Adjudicating Officer under the Information Technology Act, in order to initiate legal proceedings against the offenders. In many cases the offenders are Indian citizens only, who pretend to be foreign nationals in the emails.
Always remember, that if something sounds too good to be true, then it probably is. Never volunteer your credit card details, net banking details, PAN card numbers or any other sensitive personal data to any unknown person in cyber space however, credible it may appear to be.
It is always better to be safe in cyber space. However, if you are a victim of such scams, you do have legal recourse to recover your money.

legal.pb@gmail.com

http://www.cyberjure.com