In the wake of increased instants of crimes against women on the internet, especially social media, experts have recommended introducing a new cybersecurity law. The suggestions were made by technology lawyers and cybercrime experts during a consultation held by the National Commission for Women (NCW).
Amid the COVID-19 nationwide lockdown, there was a significant increase in cybercrime against women. The NCW had pointed out in May that they received a total of 54 cybercrime complaints were received online in April in comparison to 37 complaints received online and by post in March, and 21 complaints in February. The Akancha Foundation, as per various reports, received a total of 412 genuine complaints of cyber abuse from March 25 to April 25. Out of these, as many as 396 complaints were of serious nature from women. It ranged from abuse, indecent exposure, unsolicited obscene pictures, threats, malicious emails claiming their account was hacked, ransom demands and blackmail etc.
Akancha Srivastava, founder of Akancha Foundation, had earlier said that men are morphing images and threatening women. “There is a whole racket going on where women are getting these emails that your phone and laptop has been hacked, and if you don’t deposit money on my account, I will send your morphed images, and share it with all your contacts,” Srivastava said.
Pavan Duggal, cyber law expert, said India needs dedicated legal provisions for protecting women in cyberspace, and data related to women needs to be specifically protected. “I propose amendments to the IT Act, suggested special protection of women data in the Personal Data Protection Bill and bringing in a new cyber security law,” he said. “The current provisions of the IT Act are not adequate. Section 67, 67A and 67B don’t specifically cover grooming and handholding of women on the Internet for sex crimes.”
Vrinda Bhandari, Supreme Court lawyer, said the government needs to amend existing laws such as Sections 67 and 67A and remove the moralizing framework of the law and introduce the element of consent. “Instead of bringing in a new law, we should look at reforming the current law. Bad implementation of current laws in the problem,” Bhandari said. “We need to focus on gender sensitization and police training. We should also get away from a moralizing framework.”
Sections 67, 67A of the IT Act specifically deal with cybercrime related to pornography. Section 67B provides punishment for publishing or transmitting of material depicting explicit act in electronic form.
Rakshit Tandon, cybersecurity expert and consultant, Internet and Mobile Association of India, suggested central coordination between the state police, whilst academicians suggested more cyber forensic laboratories, improving the justice delivery system, and better training of police personnel.
The NCW is expected to consolidate the recommendations and submit it to the government.