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Classification and Provisions of Cyber Crimes

Cyber crimes have troubled internet users right since the introduction of cyberspace into our lives. Over the years, governments around the world have also laid down many laws and regulations to help fight cyber crimes. In this article, we will look at the classification of cyber crimes and also the provisions in the Information Technology Act, 2000 to deal with cybercrimes.

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Classification of Cyber Crimes

Cyber crimes are classified based on the subject of the crime, the person or organization against whom the crime is committed, and the temporal nature of the crimes committed online.

cyber crimes

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Based on the subject of the crime, cybercrimes are classified into three broad groups:

  1. Crimes against individuals – These are committed against individuals or their properties. Some examples are:
    • Email harassment
    • Cyber-stalking
    • Spreading obscene material
    • Unauthorized access or control over the computer system
    • Indecent exposure
    • Spoofing via email
    • Fraud and also cheating
    • Further, crimes against individual property like computer vandalism and transmitting a virus. Also, trespassing online and intellectual property-related crimes. Further, internet time thefts are also included.
  2. Crimes against organizations – Some examples of cyber crimes against organizations are:
    • Possessing unauthorized information
    • Cyber terrorism against a government organization
    • Distributing pirated software
  3. Crimes against society – Some examples of crimes against society are:
    • Polluting the youth through indecent exposure
    • Trafficking
    • Financial crimes
    • Selling illegal articles
    • Online Gambling
    • Forgery

Apart from the ones listed above, crimes like hacking, denial of service attacks, e-mail bombing, etc. are also present in cyberspace.

Provisions of Cyber Crimes in the IT Act, 2000

The sections of the IT Act, 2000 pertaining to cybercrimes are as follows:

Section 43 – Penalty for damage to a computer, computer system, etc.

This section applies if any person, without the permission of the owner or the person in charge of a computer, system, or network –

  • Accesses such computer, network or system.
  • Copies, downloads or extracts any data or information from such computer, network or system (this also includes the information or data stored in a removable storage medium).
  • Also, introduces or causes any computer containment or virus into such computer, network or system.
  • Further, he damages any computer, system or data or any other programs residing in them.
  • Disrupts or causes disruption of any such computer, system or network.
  • Also, denies or causes the denial of access to an authorized person to such computer, system or network.
  • Provides any assistance to anyone to facilitate access to such a computer, system or network contrary to the provisions of the Act and its rules.
  • Also, charges the services availed of by one person to the account of another by tampering with such computer, system or network.

Penalty – Compensation, not exceeding one crore rupees to the affected person.

Section 65 – Tampering with the computer’s source code documents

This section applies to a person who intentionally conceals, alters or destroys any computer source code used for a computer, program, system or network when the law requires the owner to keep or maintain the source code. It also applies to a person who intentionally causes another person to do the same.

Penalty – Imprisonment of up to three years or a fine of up to two lakh rupees, also both in some cases.

Section 66 – Hacking of a Computer System

This section applies to a person who commits hacking. Hacking is when the person intentionally or knowingly causes a wrongful loss or damage to the public or another person or destroys or deletes any information residing in a computer resource or diminishes its utility or value or injures it by any means.

Penalty – Imprisonment of up to three years or a fine of up to two lakh rupees, also both in some cases.

Section 67 – Publishing obscene information in an electronic form

This section applies to a person who publishes or transmits any obscene material – material which is lascivious or appeals to the prurient interests or tends to deprave or corrupt persons who are likely to read, see or hear the matter embodied in it. It also applies to a person who causes the publishing or transmission of such material.

Penalty – In case of the first conviction, imprisonment of up to five years and a fine of up to one lakh rupees. For subsequent convictions, imprisonment of up to 10 years and a fine of up to two lakh rupees.

Section 74 – Publication with the intention of fraud

This section applies to a person who knowingly creates, publishes or makes available a digital certificate with the intention of fraud.

Penalty – Imprisonment of up to two years or a fine of up to one lakh rupees, also both in some cases.

Other Provisions relating to Cyber Crimes

Section 44 – Failure to furnish information, returns, etc.

This section applies to a person who

  • Fails to furnish any document, return or report to the Controller or the Certifying Authority
  • Fails to file returns or furnish any information as per the regulations or fails to furnish them in time
  • Does not maintain the books of account or records

Penalty – The following penalties apply:

  • A monetary fine of up to one lakh and fifty thousand rupees for each such failure
  • A fine of up to five thousand rupees for every day if the failure continues
  • A fine of up to ten thousand rupees for every day if the failure continues

Section 45 – Residuary Penalty

This section applies to a person who contravenes any rules under the IT Act, 2000, especially those for which there are no special provisions.

Penalty – A compensation of up to twenty-five thousand rupees to the affected person.

Section 71 – Misrepresentation

This section applies to a person who makes any misrepresentation to or even suppresses any material fact from the Controller or Certifying Authority to obtain the license or a digital signature certificate.

Penalty – Imprisonment of up to two years or a fine of up to one lakh rupees, also both in some cases.

Section 72 – Breach of confidentiality and privacy

This section applies to a person with secured access to any electronic record, information, or any other material, discloses it to another person without consent.

Penalty – Imprisonment of up to two years or a fine of up to one lakh rupees, also both in some cases.

Section 73 – Publishing a Digital Certificate with incorrect details

This section applies to a person who publishes a digital certificate with the knowledge that –

  • The Certifying Authority listed in the certificate has not issued it
  • The subscriber listed in the certificate has not accepted it
  • It is a revoked or suspended certificate

Penalty – Imprisonment of up to two years or a fine of up to one lakh rupees, also both in some cases.

Section 74 – Publication with a fraudulent purpose

This section applies to a person who knowingly creates, publishes or makes available a digital signature for fraudulent purposes.

Penalty – Imprisonment of up to two years or a fine of up to one lakh rupees, also both in some cases.

Section 85 – Company Offences

(1) This section applies to a company who commits a contravention to the provisions of the Act. In such cases, all the people who were in charge and responsible for the company’s conduct of business as well as the company are guilty of the contravention. Further, those responsible are liable for punishment. However, if a person is not aware of any such contravention, then he is not liable.

(2) Notwithstanding anything contained in the sub-section (1), if it is proved that the contravention was with the consent of, or due to the negligence of any director, manager or any other officer, then such people are also held liable.

For the purposes of this section, “company” means any body corporate and also includes a firm or other association of individuals.

Solved Question Cyber Crimes

Q1. List down the important provisions under the IT Act, 2000 for cyber crimes.

Answer:

  • A penalty for damage to a computer, computer system, etc. – Section 43
  • Tampering with the computer’s source code documents – Section 65
  • Hacking of a Computer System – Section 66
  • Publishing obscene information in an electronic form – Section 67
  • Publication with the intention of fraud – Section 74
  • Failure to furnish information, returns, etc. – Section 44
  • Residuary Penalty – Section 45
  • Misrepresentation – Section 71
  • Breach of confidentiality and privacy – Section 72
  • Publishing a Digital Certificate with incorrect details – Section 73
  • Publication with a fraudulent purpose – Section 74
  • Company Offences – Section 85
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