Legal gaps and concerns abound as cybercrime rises unabated in India
New Delhi: In today’s interconnected digital landscape, the prevalence of cybercrime has reached unprecedented levels, posing significant threats to individuals, businesses, and nations alike.
As technology advances, so do the tactics employed by cybercriminals, ranging from sophisticated hacking and ransomware attacks to identity theft and online fraud.
This evolving landscape necessitates a comprehensive understanding of cyber threats, their implications, and the collective efforts required to safeguard our increasingly digitised world.
Shedding light on the growing challenges posed by cybercrime in India, Advocate Snigdha Singhi stressed the inadequacy of current legal frameworks to address the evolving landscape of technology.
Singhi pointed out that the Information Technology Act, 2000, the primary law governing cybercrimes, has struggled to keep pace with rapid technological advancements.
Singhi expressed concern over the poor conviction rate of cybercriminals in India despite reported incidents and framed charge sheets.
“Criminals committing cybercrimes use encryption tools which help them to conceal the information and not get caught by law enforcement authorities,” Singhi said, adding that the utilisation of the Darknet further complicates investigations by allowing criminals to mask their identities.
One major challenge outlined by Singhi is the lack of a common legal framework to handle international cyber offences, acting as a significant barrier to the effective adjudication of such cases.
The advocate warned that the emergence of technologies like Artificial Intelligence (AI) and ChatGPT could amplify the threats posed by cybercriminals.
Absence of resources and the lack of knowledge to identify the threats, makes individuals and organisations vulnerable to cyber attacks.
“By promoting awareness, enforcing comprehensive data protection laws to safeguard data, privacy and encouraging cybersecurity infrastructure, law enforcement can endeavour towards a more secure digital environment with better cases of conviction in cybercrimes,” Singhi said.
Kumar Kislay, Partner, JSA Advocates & Solicitors, told IANS that the Information Technology Act, 2000, along with the Indian Penal Code and the Code of Criminal Procedure, effectively deals with cybercrimes committed across borders.
Kislay pointed out that the IT Act, 2000 extends its applicability to offences committed outside India.
However, he pointed out a significant challenge: The lack of effective reciprocal arrangements and extradition mechanisms with other countries, impacting the practical operations of prosecuting and investigating agencies.
Kislay stressed the protective measures in place, citing the IT Act, 2000, and its associated rules safeguarding individuals and entities regarding sensitive information, data protection, and data retention.
He also mentioned specific rules governing intermediaries, data interception, monitoring, and access blocking.
Looking ahead, Kislay said, “The new regime under the proposed Digital India Bill, 2023 and the Digital Personal Data Protection Act, 2023 aims to empower individuals to take control of their personal data and to support organisations with their lawful processing of personal data.”
Addressing the admissibility of digital evidence in Indian courts, Kislay referred to Section 65B of the Indian Evidence Act, 1872. He said that digital evidence becomes admissible when accompanied by a certificate identifying the electronic record, its source, and the manner in which it is produced.
The recently-enacted Bharatiya Sakshya Act, 2023 further reinforces the legal standing of electronic or digital records, equating them with the legal effect, validity, and enforceability of paper records.
In the context of evolving technology, Kislay applauded the integration of information technology into the judicial system.
He said, “With the passage of time, information technology has been integrated into the judicial system. Examination of witnesses through virtual modes, dedicated e-courts and focus on virtual courts are a few important steps in the right direction.”