There has been a steady spike in cases of cybercrime in the last five years. According to the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB), from 12,317 cases of cybercrime in 2016, there were 50,035 cases registered in 2020.
In India, cybercrime is increasing with the increased use of information and communication technology (ICT). However, despite this alarming trend, the capacity of the enforcement agencies to investigate cybercrime remains limited.
Government response –
Though the Government of India has taken steps that include the setting up of the Indian Cybercrime Coordination Centre (I4C) under the Ministry of Home Affairs to deal with all types of cybercrime, much needs to be done to plug the infrastructural deficit.
First issue — Inadmissibility of electronic evidence in courts –
- As far as the admissibility of electronic evidence is concerned, though there were some conflicting judgments of the Supreme Court of India earlier, the law was finally settled in Arjun Pandit Rao Khotkar vs Kailash Kushanrao Gorantyal & Ors.
- The Court held that a certificate under Section 65B(4) of the Indian Evidence (IE) Act was a mandatory pre-requisite for the admissibility of (secondary) electronic record if the original record could not be produced.
- The broad ‘guidelines for the identification, collection, acquisition and preservation of digital evidence’ are given in the Indian Standard IS/ISO/IEC 27037: 2012, issued by the Bureau of Indian Standards (BIS). The guidelines, if followed meticulously, may ensure that electronic evidence is neither tampered with nor subject to spoliation during investigation.
- A significant attempt has been made by the higher judiciary in this field also. As resolved in the Conference of the Chief Justices of the High Court in April 2016, a five-judge committee was constituted in July 2018 to frame the draft rules which could serve as a model for the reception of digital evidence by courts.
- The committee, after extensive deliberations with experts, the police and investigation agencies, finalised its report in November 2018, but the suggested Draft Rules for the Reception, Retrieval, Authentication and Preservation of Electronic Records are yet to be given a statutory force.
Second issue — shortage of technical manpower –
- Second, there have been half-hearted efforts by the States to recruit technical staff for the investigation of cybercrime. A regular police officer, with an academic background in the arts, commerce, literature, or management may be unable to understand the nuances of the working of a computer or the Internet.
- Therefore, it is essential that State governments build up sufficient capacity to deal with cybercrime. It could be done either by setting up a separate cyberpolice station in each district or range, or having technically qualified staff in every police station.
Third issue – need to upgrade cyber-laboratories –
- Third, the cyber forensic laboratories of States must be upgraded with the advent of new technologies.
- Offences related to crypto-currency remain under-reported as the capacity to solve such crimes remains limited. The central government has proposed launching a digital rupee using blockchain technology soon. State enforcement agencies need to be ready for these technologies.
- Since there is now a state-of-art National Cyber Forensic Lab and the Cyber Prevention, Awareness and Detection Centre (CyPAD) of the Delhi Police, there may be an extension of professional help to States in getting their labs notified.
Fourth issue – Data localisation –
- Most cybercrimes are trans-national in nature with extra-territorial jurisdiction. The collection of evidence from foreign territories is not only a difficult but also a tardy process.
- India has extradition treaties and extradition arrangements with 48 and 12 countries, respectively. In most social media crimes, except for the prompt blocking of an objectionable website or suspect’s account, other details do not come forth quickly from large IT firms.
- Therefore, ‘data localisation’ must feature in the proposed Personal Data Protection law so that enforcement agencies are able to get timely access to the data of suspected Indian citizens.
Therefore, the Centre and States must not only work in tandem and frame statutory guidelines to facilitate investigation of cybercrime but also need to commit sufficient funds to develop much-awaited and required cyber infrastructure.
Source – The Hindu
QUESTION – The new Crime in India Report has highlighted that the cybercrimes in India have increased considerably in the last five years. Discuss how India is prepared to handle the challenges related to cybercrimes and what needs to be done to tackle the same.