There is a raging debate in India about cyber crimes and the legislative environment. Media is full of reports that the Government of India is â€œTightening the Lawsâ€ to protect the industry against Cyber Crimes such as data theft which are frequently reported in the country. These reports refer to the proposed amendments to ITA-2000 based on a report that was submitted last year by a committee constituted for the purpose. In the midst of these orchestrated campaign that the proposed amendments to ITA-2000 will meet the needs of data security in India, there is also a concern whether crimes such as e-extortions which are surfacing today are adequately dealt with in Indian law.
It is however pleasantly surprising that even the or crimes such as e-Extortions where a person causes the files in a computer to be encrypted and demands a ransom to release the files is adequately covered in Indian law as it exists today.
It is of course another thing that if the Government has its way and gets through the amendments, then the new law will not be able to take care of the e-Extortion as effectively as the present law does.
e-Extortions requires a person to enter another computer system without authority and then cause the performance of the system to degrade or lock up. The value of the data in the computer gets diminished and the utility of the system gets reduced.
These offences are covered under the existing laws with a possible imprisonment of 3 years and a liability to the victim upto Rs 10 million.
The problem of course is in the â€œCriminal Friendlyâ€ amendments proposed by the Government that unless it is proved that a person had acted â€œdishonestlyâ€or â€œfraudulentlyâ€ and without permission, no offence would be recognized. While in some cases of e-extortions may be fulfilling the above criteria, if an e-extortionist uses a Trojan or a virus to gain access to the victimâ€™s computer which spreads in the wild and reaches the victimâ€™s computer through some other computer, it would be difficult to prove conclusively that the beneficiary of the e-extortion is directly responsible for the crime.
Further, the imprisonment term could be either 1 or two years reduced from the present three years. Today Police can immediately arrest a person indulging in such crimes in any public space, under the new amendments it is proposed that the Police will not have any powers to arrest and wait for a warrant from a court.
Looking back at the time Information Technology Act 2000 was drafted, crimes such as e-Extortion could not even be envisaged. It must therefore be appreciated that either by accident or design, the law was intelligently drafted so as to cover futuristic crimes.