Containing Cyber Crimes

Rameshwar Singh Jamwal
Home Minister Amit Shah’s candid admission about the threat posed by Cyber Crimes and the fact that Reserve Bank of India has woken up from deep slumber and is planning to issue guidelines to permit banks to temporarily freeze accounts suspected of being used to commit cyber crimes, points to the seriousness of the problem. The plans stems from the fact that lacs of Indians have lost money, nearing $1.26 billion in financial institutions due to cyber crimes since 2021, and it is estimated that about 4,000 fraudulent accounts are being opened every day. According to one leading paper, even this year, people in India have lost more than 1700 crores due to cyber crimes. This, despite the fact, that India enacted Information Technology Act in the year 2000, which not only defines Cyber Crimes, but also provides for major penalties, ranging from fines upto Rs. One crore and punishments up to ten year jail term. Despite there being such stringent punishments, there is an exponential growth in Cyber Crimes in India, and from around 27218 cases registered in the year 2018, the number has swelled to around 1.13 million in the year 2023 and there seems to be no respite from the ever increasing number of victims losing billions to these online fraudsters, who are least deterred by the so called deterrent punishments provided under the IT Act. This number of 1.13 million cases of financial cyber frauds does not include the dark figures, where people don’t report minor losses of few thousands and these are the major cases registered and reported in 2023, according to a Lok Sabha reply submitted on February 6. Due to such massive explosion of cases, from around 27000 to the figures quoted above, in a period of around seven years, Government has been forced to establish a ‘Citizen Financial Cyber Fraud Reporting and Management System’ under the ‘Indian Cyber Crime Coordination Centre’ by the Ministry of Home Affairs to report financial frauds and more than three lac accounts have been seized till date, which committee has found the involvement of citizens from some adjoin countries as responsible for more than 45 percent of cyber crimes..
Cyber Crimes are not normal criminal activities, and defy the criminal behavior being investigated for the last few centuries as this sort of behavior was not part of mental repertoire of our ancestors and could not have been transferred genetically to the present generation. And It is a learned behavior and is committed only by those who know the advance use of computers and mobiles. Here, computers or mobile phones and computer networks are used to do this criminal activity and sometimes can wreck havocs with nations, with possibilities of same leading to wars and unprecedented and unimaginable levels of destruction. At present we are dealing with small time operators indulging in credit card frauds, phising, pornopgraphy, distribution of viruses, using fake indentities to force vulnerable from paying money and many other forms of online threatening, sending threatening or frightening messages and so on. The fact is that we are staring at a future where such crimes will lead to strong upheavals in our criminal justice system, which seems to be ill equipped to deal with the impending deluge of the cases of newest form of crimes, which fall outside the purview of the crime theories propounded so far defining the reasons as to why people commit crimes.
If the present trend is an indication, there must be some serious flaw in our approach to deal with the problem and the cosmetic changes of freezing the bank accounts, or recovering small fractions of the defrauded amounts will not yield the desired results. The reasons are obvious, but the mandarins of Law and Home Ministry seem to be clueless in offering viable and effective solutions. Cyber Crimes fall under various types of categories. There are state sponsored groups or individual wolfs, wanting to wreck vengeance against the country, who mostly attack the systems to cause maximum damage to the country. Then there are small groups or individuals, who guided by greed factor, try to extract money, by using different types of frauds and identities. There are individuals or groups, who, with lust factor, as the prime motivating force, do damage to the vulnerable groups of females or teenagers. Then there are persons, who have none of the factors, as the motivating force but want to enjoy and share pornographic messages, videos, jokes and don’t realize that they are committing cyber offences by sharing such messages or videos. But we are trying to deal with all different shades with the same technical and legal brush, which is a wrong approach. The way there can’t be one medicine for cancer, liver problem, heart problem and headache, in the same fashion, we cannot deal with all types of criminality or all cyber crimes with one sort of treatment, as provided in the Information Technology Act. Law makers in other countries make laws, after studying nature, extent, etiology, and control of law breaking behavior, and based on established empirical knowledge about particular type of crime and then devise measures for its control, based on qualitative and quantitative research that forms a basis for understanding, explanation, prediction, prevention and criminal justice policy. There are reasons of particular type of crimes, finding which requires a scientific study and scientific answers in the shape of legislations, but not in our country. Here the legislators frame laws as per the recommendations of bureaucrats, who are not in touch with these ground realities like the statistical analysis of the extent, incidence, patterning and cost of crimes, based on surveys of victims and offenders, analysis of crime causation and estimates of hidden or unreported crimes. Crime control has to be persistent and evolving process and cyber crime problem is not an intractable problem, provided we adopt right strategies to tackle the constant changes taking place in the evolving system. This paradigm shift taking place on the crime pattern, can be viewed as a cultural trait whose frequency and scale is changing very rapidly because of dynamic changes taking place in individual and group behavior through social groups in virtual world, in the physical sector, where people are interconnected because of the internet and social media groups and are learning new techniques for earning very fast, without any compunction about morality or the consequences of their tendencies. So to deal with such individuals and groups of individuals, we need to treat any violation of the law by any non Indian as an act of war if it harms the nation, framing more stringent laws tackling individual and group behavior, the effective implementation of laws, quick disposal of cases, and use of Mass Behavioral Engineering Techniques, using a combination of concepts from Behaviorism and Psychology to Epigenetics, Genetics and concepts from lots of other fields, which can’t be divulged in the present write up but we need to act swiftly and decisively, lest the people lose faith in the system and start withdrawing from Banks and Financial institutions, which will take the country back by several decades, thereby stalling our efforts to become a developed Country by 2047, a dream visualized by our visionary leadership.
(The author is the President of Criminologists Society and a practicing Advocate of J&K High Court.)

The post Containing Cyber Crimes appeared first on Daily Excelsior.