India’s registered cyber crimes leapt 350% in three years but the legal system is struggling to cope with more and more lawbreakers exploiting the anonymity of the internet.
National Crime Records Bureau statistics show number of recorded cases of cyber crime jumped to 4,356 from 966 in the three years up to 2013, with India being more susceptible to digital attacks because of the increasing number of net users in the fast-growing economy.
“Illegal gains” and “harassment” are the top cyber crime motives, the data reveal, though the majority of the crimes were registered under the “others” category — 2,144 cases in 2013. Analysts say such a high number of cases being pigeonholed in this section implies current laws and regulations aren’t detailed enough to tackle cyber crime. The challenge is daunting for India — estimated to have 302 million internet users by the end-2014 and set to have the second largest number of netizens in the world after China this year.
Data show that the age group of 18-30 accounts for the highest percentage of cyber crime with 1,638 persons arrested out of 3,301 in 2013. The surge in cyber crime may also have been brought on by inefficiencies in the legal system with activists challenging some cyber laws considered too draconian for a modern, democratic society.
Various sections of the IT Act were deeply flawed as they were “copy-paste jobs” from British and American laws, said Sunil Abraham, founder-director of Bengaluru-based Centre for Internet & Society. To prevent such abuses, the Supreme Court ruled in 2013 that arrests could only be made after clearance from an inspector general of police in a city and a superintendent of police in a district.
(Devanik Saha is Data Editor at The Political Indian; Indiaspend.org is a data-driven, public-interest journalism non-profit)