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Securing the web

Cyberlaws need to be a dynamic body of laws which can keep pace with the ingenuity of those who abuse technology.

india Updated: Oct 23, 2006 12:33 IST

The Cabinet’s approval of amendments to the IT Act, 2000, hasn’t come a day too soon. The increasing frequency of cyber crimes in Indian BPOs has been widely publicised. This did not bode well for India’s BPO business that has painstakingly risen to global eminence. Additionally, while no concrete data is available, analysts project that child pornography and video voyeurism is on a steady rise in India. Earlier this year, an IBM survey concluded that cyber crimes pose a bigger threat to Indian business than physical crimes. Further, out of every 500 cyber crimes in India, only 50 are reported to the police and out of that only one is actually registered. The conviction rate is as low as 2 per cent — that tells its own story. Phishing, cyber stalking and cyber harassment were not covered under the IT Act, 2000, so there was urgent need to amend this statute.

The arrest of CEO Avnish Behl in the infamous MMS case was the first signal that the old IT Act was incapable of addressing cybercrime. The scandal was followed in quick succession by data fraud in call centres in Pune, Hyderabad, Bangalore and Gurgaon. Things came to a head when British tabloid The Sun published a story that a BPO employee had sold bank account details of 1,000 British clients to one of its undercover reporters. The fact that the police did not have any training to handle such cases didn’t help matters any. With the amendment to the IT Act, cyber businesses now need to have efficient security and scrutiny systems — failure to comply will fetch strong punitive measures. Companies that fail to secure their data may have to pay up to $ 1 million. It should be mentioned here that in keeping with business requirements, high-equipment suppliers are manufacturing systems with in-built security features. Additionally, under the guidance of Nasscom, India is creating a registry of IT employees so that any erring employee can be tracked and blacklisted.

Given the nature of the webworld, cyberlaws need to be a dynamic body of laws which can keep pace with the ingenuity of those who abuse technology. Along with this, there must be continuous training of investigators to equip them to keep one step ahead of criminals. Robust legislation and its expert application is a first step towards tackling cybercrime efficiently.

First Published: Oct 23, 2006 01:19 IST