This article was written by Ankesh Kumar, a student of Army Institute Of Law, Mohali.
Crimes over the years have evolved forms over evolving mediums, mediums of communication being the most advanced tool of it. Telecommunications in India have evolved up to a great extent starting from its introduction in 1882 to the introduction of mobile technology in 1995 and then to the emerging trend of Smartphone’s post 2005 period. Similarly, with the advancement of technology, crimes over technological grounds have also evolved.
Mobile technology over the years has evolved upto a large extent be it on grounds of flexibility or portability. Security measures too have improved, but not at the desired expected rate to absolutely curb crime rates. The fact that tops the list is that people fail to believe that they can be victims to such crimes.
Crime committed using modern technological tools are generally known as cyber crimes. The broadest way to deliver the true meaning of cyber crime is “any crime wherein computer is either used as a tool or a weapon.” On general lines, computers are considered to be of laptop or desktop in form. However, as Wikipedia defines it, “a computer is a general purpose device that can be programmed to carry out a finest set of arithmetic or logical operation.”
INTROSPECTIVE VIEW AND CRIMES COMMITTED OVER CELL-PHONE
Section 2(i) of the Information Technology Act, 2002 reads “computer means any electronic, magnetic, optical or other high-speed data processing device or system which performs logical, arithmetic and memory functions by manipulations of electronic, magnetic or optical impulses, and includes all input, output, processing, storage, computer software or communication facilities which are connected or related to the computer in a computer system or computer network.”
Thus, we can see that over the years with technological advancements and enhancements, the mobile phone has emerged as a mini – computer in our daily life.
To look into the cyber – crimes committed over cell – phones, it is important to take note of what these crimes actually are.
Vishing: It is the basic tool resorted to for committing financial crimes using the mobile phone. Online shopping and online transaction are now done mainly through mobile phones, which make people easy preys to the cyber crime of vishing. These thefts are generally identity thefts in nature, relating to credit numbers, and other secretive information.
Bluebugging: It basically means attacking the mobile phone via Bluetooth. The bluebugging mechanism gives an absolute to access to our images, files and videos, when we expose our device for transferring data via Bluetooth. The nature of this hacking mechanism is such that, the victim is unaware of his files and data being exposed to hackers, even when the Bluetooth is later on turned off.
Smishing: The Short Message Service (SMS), which we often resort to on our mobile phones for communication, can often pose a threat to the secretive information we share using the medium. This information can therefore be misused later on by hackers against us, thereby posing a threat to our security, and also to the people with whom we are communicating, as it involves access to information which were meant to be secretive in nature.
Malware: It is one of the most common yet deadliest software’s designed to carry out activities of malicious nature using the infected device. It makes its way into mobile phones by means of browsing or files sharing, and after entering the device indulges in rampant unwanted use of the cell – phone even without personalized use of the owner.
MOBILE PHONES AND THE INFORMATION AND TECHNOLOGY ACT, 2000
Widened introspection of Section 2(i) of the Information and Technology Act, 2000, makes mobile phones fall within the definition of word “computer”, as mobile phones are used for exchanging of information. Section 2(r) of the Information and Technology Act, 2000 defines “electronic form” as any information generated, sent, received or saved in any media, optical, magnetic, computer memory, micro film, micro fiche or relatable form. Therefore, information exchanged on mobile phones in whatever forms it may be in, falls within the ambit of the Information and Technology Act, 2000.
Sections 294, 504, 506, 507 and 509 of the Indian Penal Code, 1860, lay down legal provisions for those expressing offensive feelings by means of mobile phone or computer.
Section 67(a) of the Information and Technology Act, lays down provisions for punishment against publication or spreading of materials containing sexually active acts, etc., in electronic form. Similarly, Sections 292, 292(a) of the Indian Penal Code, 1860, also lays down punishment on initial conviction for imprisonment and also fine.
Thus, legal provisions along with established legislations have played a major role towards, curbing increasing crime rates being committed over mobile phones.
STATISTICAL DATA RELATING TO CYBER –
As per Official Reports from National Crime Records Bureau
9,622 cases were reported under cyber – crimes head with an increase rate of 69% from 2013 to 2014. 2014 also saw 1,879 out of 9,622 reported cases under Special and Local Laws being reported under the head of cyber – crimes. It was also reported that out of 4,246 cases 3,131 cases relating to the Information and Technology Act, 2000 were due to publication or transmission of sexually explicit content under Section 67(a) to 67(c) of the IT Act 2000.
The alarming numbers are that 52.7% of the aggregate offenders belonged to the age group of 18 years and 30 years. The matter of fact being, such cyber – crimes being committed in relatively urban states like Maharashtra (19.5% of aggregate cyber – crimes committed nationwide).
The matter of fact, which is often neglected by people, is that people underestimate the portability, and the consequent mobility of the mobile phone constantly, as we ourselves constantly are on the move with the phone. The mobile phone with the advancement of technology is nothing but a mini, yet highly mechanised computer system.
People, may find the new and updated location services on our mobile phones to be cool and advanced, but actually such services, actually make us more vulnerable to cyber – crime victimisation. World renowned terrorist organisations along with their cyber – team backup can easily access location services of mobile phones and commit their required terrorist activities.
Mobile phones have also opened up the floodgates for white collar crimes, wherein, funds dealing with eight – digits or more can be infiltrated into multiple accounts within few seconds. Legislations and procedural laws for prevention of such crimes have developed; however have yet not been sufficiently effective to absolutely curb such crimes. Specific IMEI numbers on phones, though an efficient way to control crimes committed over mobile phones, are not sufficient to absolutely control such crimes. For this reason, technologically and legally, steps need to be taken to bring crimes committed using mobile phones under the radar of registered and controlled technological and legal heads.