Bangalore Cyber Crime Police Station prides itself to be the Country’s first Cyber Crime police station. The Government of Karnataka has made a huge investment in the facilities and the Police station along with the Nasscom supported Cyber Lab is undoubtedly the best equipped Cyber Crime police station in India. Other states actually look upto Bangalore Cyber Crime PS for guidance.

However, it is regrettable that the  Police Station has been recently displaying disinterest in accepting complaints and is turning away complainants.

In certain cases, the complainants are being turned away for the reason that their allegation does not constitute a Cyber Crime under ITA 2000. When the complaint is such as to qualify as a Cyber Crime and the Police turn away, it displays ignorance of the Police about Cyber Law. 

We donot know whether the actual reason for turning away the complainants is “Ignorance” or  the overwhelming number of complaints that pour in to the Cyber Crime Police station.

In either case for the public it only means that the Cyber Crime Police station is shirking its responsibilities to the Netizens of Karnataka. It must be remembered that the Cyber Crime PS Bangalore has through appropriate notifications obtained a statewide jurisdiction for all offences coming under ITA 2000, including the power to inspect Cyber Cafes across the State. Having obtained such wide powers, if the Police Station is not able to respond, the public would be denied of the assistance of the Law enforcement when an offence is committed.

One such incident where the Bangalore Cyber Crime PS turned away a complainant was reported to the Cyber Crime Complaints and Resolution Assistance Center (CCC-RAC) of Naavi.org recently. In this case, a resident of Bangalore has reported that he had approached the Bangalore Cyber Crime PS with a complaint about “Bandwidth stealing/Internet hours stealing/leeching on Internet service”. Essentially this means that some body is logging into the Internet account of a person. It appears that the Police Station turned him away for the reason that it is not a recognized offence.

This type of problem is not an isolated case and happens regularly in BSNL broadband accounts where  BSNL provides a standard password for its modem users during installation which the users normally donot change under the assumption that the modem is under their control and nobody can hack into it. It appears however that the security in the BSNL system is inadequate and there is no “Port binding” except on specific request. As a result, any person can enter the log in ID and the standard password of a BSNL broadband user and log into the Internet charging the usage to the account of the person to whom the ID belongs. This ID is not a secret since it is the name of the customer recorded in his e-mail account. The standard password can be derived easily from the ID itself. Such offences may not be limited to Bangalore and may be happening elsewhere too.

When queried, the undersigned was informed by BSNL that they are now adopting the “Virtual Port Binding” security and preventing such unauthorized log ins. It is not however clear if this has been done for all customers or only when a complaint is received. Secondly, it is not clear if BSNL has sent any alerts to its customers that Internet Leeching is happening in Bangalore and they need to change their modem/dataone passwords from the one given by the department.  BSNL however expressed its inability to trace the user under their present monitoring system.

This sort of an offence is being committed due to the security lapse at the BSNL end and it is necessary for BSNL to quickly take steps to prevent recurrence of such issues. They should also keep such records as would enable tracing of the MAC addresses of the persons logged in so that in the event of any complaint, the law enforcement would have the necessary information to proceed. Otherwise they may lose protection under Section 79 of ITA 2000 and become liable for the offences.

Coming back to the case of “Refusal to Register a Complaint”, Bangalore Cyber Crime PS which prides in its glory should now answer the public why it refused the complaint.

Was it because they thought that the offence was not  a recognized crime?.. If so, they are wrong and should accept their ignorance.

Was it because they have too many complaints on hand?.. If so they are shirking their responsibilities to provide a fair treatment to the victims of Cyber Crime in the state.

For the clarification of the Police we would like to state that Section 66 of ITA 2000 which makes “Diminishing the Value of Information Residing inside a computer” an offence applies to the instant case. When in doubt  Police must  consult Cyber Law Experts so as not to deny the public of their rights.

It is also clarified that the offence of Leeching of Internet account is a contravention under Section 43 of ITA 2000 and victims should file a complaint with the Adjudicator of the State, namely Shri M N Vidyashankar, IT Secretary,  Government of Karnataka, MS Building,  Bangalore 560001. According to ITA 2000, the adjudicator is the only authority having jurisidiction to conduct necessary enquiries and award compensation. He is expected to complete his enquiry within 4 months using the investigating assistance where required. We urge the IT Secretary of Karnataka to take a little time off from his other duties to take up the responsibilities cast on him as an “Adjudicator under ITA 2000 for Karnataka”. He is invited to use the services of online arbitration provided by www.arbitration.in to make things easy for himself and the victims.

Cyber Crime Complaints and Resolution Assistance Center of Naavi.org is willing to render free advisory services to the Government of Karnataka to make the Cyber Crime PS and the Adjudicator system  effective.

Complainants should however arm themselves with proper evidence  before they approach the Police or the Adjudicator and expert advise may be required for this purpose. They are welcome to contact www.ceac.in for this purpose.

For further clarifications advise, assistance or consultancy, contact Naavi at CCC-RAC, Bangalore, through e-mail naavi@vsnl.com.

Naavi

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