Cyber crime on the rise in the NE


Patricia Mukhim

What do young people and some among the middle-aged who are hooked to their smart phones do all day, we may wonder. Well, a brief questionnaire sent by this writer to a few respondents reveal the kind of passion and enthusiasm with which people check their Facebook Page after they have posted  a statement or a picture or shared a post.  "It's a way to deal with boredom," said one respondent. Another said that she uses Facebook to make friends because she is shy of real relationships.  Whether we like it or not, we are addicted to the social media and to Facebook more than to Twitter since the former allows you an instant talk back mechanism while the latter is only about propagating your ideas for a re-tweet.  Of course, both media also attract trolls by the dozen especially when one posts a controversial statement. Never before have people been so polarised along politically partisan lines as they are today. If a post is put up by some Congress camp follower then be sure that hate posts will follow thereafter from political opponents which would be unreadable because there would be swear words not just in English but in Hindi as well. Similarly, if one posts anything that appears even remotely anti-BJP then be sure to get trolled and even receive death threats.  Cybercrime happens when a troll turns into a death threat or physical intimidation. Dr. John Dayal, one of India's foremost voices on human rights, and particularly the situation of religious minorities is the latest among several rational voices in this country to have received death threats over the internet.

So what is the definition of cybercrime? Wikipedia defines cybercrime as a term for any illegal activity that uses a computer as its primary means of commission. The growing list of cybercrimes includes crimes that have been made possible by computers, such as network intrusions and the dissemination of computer viruses, as well as computer-based variations of existing crimes, such as identity theft,  stalking, bullying and terrorism. These days it is common for newspaper houses to get emails from banned militant outfits calling bandhs and spewing out anti-national slogans. To my mind the use of fake email Ids by militant outfits is in itself a cybercrime. However, newspapers and news portals continue to use such emails and to publish the views of these myriad militant outfits of the North East because, they are by their very controversial nature, very newsy. And since there has been no regulation as such until very recently when the Meghalaya High Court banned the publication of any news relating to any bandh by any militant outfit or pressure group, the newspapers merrily carried on publishing news of bandhs and bringing life and government to a standstill.

Cybercrimes are punishable under Section 66 and 66 (A) of the Information Technology Act 2000 which was amended in 2008. Section 66 says: If any person, dishonestly, or fraudulently, does any act referred to in section 43, he shall be punishable with imprisonment for a term which may extend to two/three years or with fine which may extend to five lakh rupees or with both. For the purpose of this section,- a) the word "dishonestly" shall have the meaning assigned to it in section 24 of the Indian Penal Code; b) the word "fraudulently" shall have the meaning assigned to it in section 25 of the Indian Penal Code.