Gender and Internet: Web magazine for Cyber law for women News update for September 16-24, 2019

Man in Derbyshire uploads distributes breast pictures of his neighbor who borrowed the computer to upload the pictures for medical purposes. while returning the computer, she forgot to delete them.Accused shared the pictures because he was allegedly irritated by the victim. The court convicted the accused of revenge porn. Held that the pictures were not captured by the accused for sexual purposes, but were distributed for taking revenge. The court, which took note of the victim’s distress condition, ordered the accused is ordered two months prison sentence, 80 hours of unpaid work and restraining order prohibiting him to connect with the victim.
https://www.derbytelegraph.co.uk/news/derby-news/derby-man-sent-revenge-porn-3280054

Pornhub owner earns money from the revenue generated through advertisements, rejects the claim that they allow revenge porn contents on their websites. But the reality is different. Victims state even police can not help in preventing uploading of revenge porn in such websites and detecting the perpetrators. Website liability is questioned.
https://www.bbc.com/news/technology-49583420

India raises alert over need for a new legislation to combat cyber crimes against women as several women , including nuns are defamed via social media.
https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/kozhikode/cybercrime-womens-panel-calls-for-stricter-punishment/article29434022.ece

Nigerian man arrested in India for duping women, through impostering profiles of wealthy people
https://www.ndtv.com/delhi-news/nigerian-man-in-delhi-posed-as-wealthy-foreigner-cheated-women-jailed-2103379

Gender and Internet: Web magazine for Cyber law for women News update for September 9-15, 2019

Husband uploads non consensual photos of estranged wife on social media profiles through an impersonating profile to defame her in India. They were allegedly married for 12 years and got separated recently. Suspect is yet to be arrested.
https://www.hindustantimes.com/gurugram/man-booked-for-uploading-wife-s-pictures-online/story-mlWcXbHR2adXiO1qj2przO.html

Florida teenager girl violates child porn laws by sexting to friends
https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2019/aug/31/maryland-court-teen-girl-video-law?CMP=share_btn_fb&fbclid=IwAR3GHIQF3rSaJQkY7W5Kd-yW-im7MzRO35uJvaVSij8NoeyVK5svZQDfCRw

Public profiles of women and men uploaded on LinkedIn may not expect privacy cocoons from web scrappers. US court rules that web scrapping of LinkedIn without the consent of the owner of the website would be violate laws.
https://arstechnica.com/tech-policy/2019/09/web-scraping-doesnt-violate-anti-hacking-law-appeals-court-rules/?fbclid=IwAR0JTHWCJRZSmQgDxDQzziRUPyxOnC_O4IVZO6pXqEK67BnUFShnHZSunbQ

Stakeholders in UK express concern over surveillance used by law less Facial recognition technology which may violate privacy rights of women and men
https://www.independent.co.uk/news/facial-recognition-technology-police-general-election-a9111026.html?fbclid=IwAR3s-_jUKlTEAoashuxWxlGNcQOXStLs2U9BTbECrqjQ-dO42sOKmg8x4k0

Trolling and Online violence against women by Dhananjay Bhati

Image courtesy : Google

Online trolling is one of the most prominent types of cyber victimization of women in the present age and it is least taken care of by criminal justice machinery. It is indeed the most prevalent form of abuse against women and it’s an alarming human rights issue. Online abuse of women may include various forms including bullying, trolling, stalking, misogynist comments, racial bullying etc. Trolling have heavy potential of damaging honor or reputation of women. Trolling can be defined as ‘an extreme usage of freedom of speech which is exercised to disrupt the community discussions in social networking sites and which is done to deliberately insult ideologies such as feminism, secularism etc.; of the topic starter or the supporters of the topic starter.’[1] In this digital era, most people consider internet as a podium which provides them the anonymity to victimize others. As a result, the potential perpetrator including the troll is often encouraged to create more havoc with the victim’s life and freedom. Unfortunately, the internet has always been a hostile place for women. Trolling including misogynistic trolling is one of the worst forms speech which has often escaped the clutches of law due to carious reasons .[2] Trolling not only infringes privacy of the victims, it also affects women’s right to participate in economic, social and political affairs. Women in India have reported facing severe online abuse on the socio-verbal platform #Twitter.[3] Trolls have used racial, sexist, homophobic or misogynist to belittle or degrade women’s identity or social status. In most instances, trolls may be complete strangers who would come up for trolling for fun .[4] Unfortunately there is no focused law for regulating trolls or trolling. The exact nature and scale of online abuse by women because of trolling in the Indian context is still under-researched. Amnesty International’s Decoding Project, “Troll Patrol India”[5] is currently researching on this very issue. This project is encouraging researchers/ volunteers to analyse the nature of trolling and report the trolls . It has been noticed that pre and post general elections 2019 in India, there were huge incidents of trolling targeting women including female politicians, journalists, lawyers etc . The social media platforms such as Twitter where the instances of online abuse are most prevalent, need to take responsibility of protecting human rights of women to ensure that women using this platform are able to freely and fearlessly express their thoughts. The Troll Patrol India Project has engaged over 1500 Decoders from all over the country that has analyzed over 4 lakh comments that include homophobic language, explicit sexist, racist, ethnic or religious slurs.  Misogynist, racist trolling is showing no sign of slowing down especially towards the women. Amnesty International’s Decoding Project aims to research on typology of abusive Tweets targeting women. The project will form a considerable pool of research to impart light on how these trolls may dissuade women from freely posting their views on online platforms such as Twitter. In recent times, there have been many ‘women in tech’ initiatives, and things are changing ponderously but it is important to make the internet a safer platform for women. After all, it is necessary to protect the freedom of speech and expression of every woman by ensuring them their online privacy and a safe online environment. The need of the hour is to tackle online violence against women very seriously to uphold women and their enshrined rights in India. Surely, the intermediaries must have to play a bigger role in reaching out to this balance to provide women their online safety. 

   

*Dhananjay Bhati. BBA-LLB, 3rd year, Unitedworld School of Law, Karnavati University. The author is also a project member (Amnesty Decoder) of the Amnesty Decoding Project, Amnesty International India.   The author can be reached @ bhati.dhananjay25@gmail.com

  **This write up has been conceptualized by the author from the Amnesty Decoding Project. 

[1] Halder, D. (2013). Examining the scope of Indecent Representation of Women (Prevention) Act, 1986 in the light of cyber victimization of women in India. National Law School Journal, Vol. 11, 118-218 at p. 196.

[2] Bartlett, J. (2018, March 1). The Trolling and abuse of women rooted in online cultures. Retrieved from https://medium.com/@jamie.bartlett/the-trolling-and-abuse-of-women-rooted-in-online-cultures-667a54d4f88d

[3] Available at https://decoders.amnesty.org/projects/troll-patrol-india.

4] Pinto, S. ( 2017, November 20). What is online violence and abuse against women. Retrieved from https://www.amnesty.org/en/latest/campaigns/2017/11/what-is-online-violence-and-abuse-against-women/.

[5] Available at https://decoders.amnesty.org/projects/troll-patrol-india.

Gender and Internet: Web magazine for Cyber law for women News update for September 1-8, 2019

Two men get arrested under Sections 20 (offences against the dignity of a natural person), 21 (offences against modesty) and 24 (cyber stalking) of the Prevention of Electronic Crimes Act (Peca), 2016.and Section 109 (abatement) of the Pakistan Penal Code (PPC) for harassing women with objectionable contents over WhatsApp in Pakistan
https://www.dawn.com/news/1503129

While High Court in Great Britain holds facial recognition by police legal, artist designs metal jewelry to block facial recognition
https://mymodernmet.com/ewa-nowak-avoid-facial-recognition/?fbclid=IwAR3r13ah1dpoWL3cwextY2JsALNSMrTVclEira4xMPyhyQDOGIAC2bNLoSM

Man gets arrested for creating impersonating profile of woman and using the same for sending lewd messages to other women in India
https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/ahmedabad/ahmedabad-man-arrested-for-harassing-women/articleshow/71001947.cms

35 year old Philippine woman who was arrested in July, 2019 for sending photos of her 4 year old son being sexually abused through an online messaging platform in lieu of money, is now sentenced for jail for 25 years by Philippines court. The woman is also sentenced to pay fine and damages.
https://www.sunstar.com.ph/article/1821966

YouTube fined for collecting personal data of children : cyber safety of children in the hands of service providers gets questioned again
https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2019/sep/04/youtube-kids-fine-personal-data-collection-children-?CMP=share_btn_fb&fbclid=IwAR2g06Bm1k7WWZfp7d4NozJiKzhN17S-z9LaKNQ48aazpHGIyjp7KGWylsQ

Gender and Internet: Web magazine for Cyber law for women News update for August 21-31, 2019

Cyber flashing ( sending unsolicited sexually explicit contents through apps and through emails etc to women and and men) is now being considered as an illegal offence under Texas laws.
https://www.wusa9.com/article/news/nation-world/texas-and-bumble-crack-down-on-cyber-flashing/65-fd49bf52-28f2-4d48-8ef7-328df0662eaf

Spanish police arrests man for upskirt photography. He who had been capturing under wears of women commuting in trains by placing spy cam in the backpack and placing the bag on the ground. He uploaded these pictures captured without consent in adult sites and they were watched over million times. A total of 555 women were identifiable in these videos.
https://www.news18.com/news/world/man-arrested-in-spain-for-upskirting-over-500-women-posting-videos-online-2279241.html

Nigerian man who ran a racket for drugging, raping and stealing mobile phones and valuables of women allured through social media, tells the police that he had to do this because he did not have any decent job.
https://www.newtelegraphng.com/2019/08/why-i-lure-ladies-to-hotel-drug-rape-them/

Astronaut alleged to have unauthorisedly accessed back account of her estranged female spouse while on space. Time to rethink about expanding the jurisdiction of internet laws
https://interestingengineering.com/top-nasa-astronaut-accused-of-first-cybercrime-in-space

Two women plead guilty in disseminating, teaching and planning to create mass destructive weapons to create jihad attacks in the US over cyber space
https://saraacarter.com/two-women-from-queens-charged-with-plans-to-make-weapon-of-mass-destruction/

Man gets arrested for extortion for Rs. 12.96 Lakhs, sextortion and impersonation targeting woman in Hyderabad in India
http://www.newindianexpress.com/cities/hyderabad/2019/aug/27/chennai-man-held-for-cyber-bullying-2024899.html

Pakistan court rejects bail for woman accused of rape video case who would allure women to be raped by her husband. She is accused of filming the rape scenes and blackmailing the victims with the captured contents.
https://tribune.com.pk/story/2043800/1-court-denies-bail-woman-rape-video-case/

3 ways how Artificial Intelligence may make women land in trouble by Dr.Debarati Halder

Image curtsy : Google

Information communication technology and digital communication technology have opened up new vistas for human relationships. The innovative technology with the help of Artificial Intelligence (AI) can now read minds,[1] predict illness,[2] predict crime occurrence,[3] enhance the professional and social network, and help in better analytical understanding of subjects. But it can also leave devastating impacts on human life. It can alter the data (including personal data), harm social reputation and can even instigate victims to take extreme steps like committing suicide.[4] All these may be done by positive and negative usage   of artificial intelligence which plays the base role for empowering Apps which in turn may be used for positive and negative usages.  Artificial Intelligence (AI) has been used by web companies like Facebook for facial recognition of users earlier. AI has also been used for companies (other than web companies) for processing employee data. In short, AI has been used to access private information of individuals either consensually or without consent. Here are three ways as how AI may create an uncomfortable situation for women specifically in India :

  1. Facial Recognition Apps and harassment of women: Remember the time when Facebook suddenly started asking for nude photos individuals for upgrading their own safety system apparently for providing safety mechanisms for subscribers?[5] This project was intended to build up a safety mechanism against revenge porn with the help of Artificial Intelligence. Facebook wanted to empower their subscribers, especially women to report revenge porn. But before that, the company wanted to ensure that the revenge porn content showcased the image that belonged to the victim specifically. The facial recognition app, the skin texture, hair color, biometric recognition technology would be matching both the images (the nude picture of the victim and the revenge porn content created by the perpetrator) and would be identifying the revenge porn content as illegal. But this project received stern objections because there were more possibilities of misuse of nude photos than positive use of the same. Facebook -Cambridge analytica case did prove that nothing is impossible when it comes to preservation of data by body-corporates and data of individuals is always profitable and the security of the  same is vulnerable. But this may not seem to be as dangerous as misuse of Face App may seem to be . FaceApp is basically used to change the face structure of the person whose photograph would be used in this App. It can change the texture of the skin and density of hair including facial hair.  In July, 2019, FaceApp became the center of concern for Indian cyber security stakeholders especially when several celebrities started using FaceApp and started showcasing their changed faces on Instagram.   While FaceApp was basically being used for fun purposes, it may also throw challenges for data safety and security of person concerned. FaceApp helps to change the structure of faces. But we should not forget that the altered facial image can be saved in devices and cloud of different individuals. This altered image may be used for several illegal activities. Predators may unauthorizedly access the social media profiles and change facial images of the victims to create fake profiles; they may also use such images to create a completely new impersonating profile to harass women. Altered facial images of women may also be used for revenge purposes especially when the victim is looking for opportunities in the entertainment or advertisement sector where her appearance may be considered as her biggest asset. Apart from this, FaceApp may be used to attract bullies and trolls to intensify victimization of women.
  2. Bringing back the memory: No one, but the web companies clearly remember what we posted in last summer. Every day social media companies would show what was posted by the user a year back or a couple of years back and would gently remind the user that he/she can share the said post as a memory. How does it happen? The web companies look for algorithm and the highest likes and comments for posts on daily or even hourly basis. When the posts earn more likes and comments, the AI decides to bring it forth. In certain situations, such refreshing of memories might not be ‘wanted’ at all especially when the victim might had a bitter ending of the relationship with persons in the said image or the text in question may no longer evoke good memories, but rather traumatize the victim more. But machine intelligence does not fail the company: it is a matter of consent and choice after all. But consider if the account is unauthorizedly accessed: the hacker may get to know something from the past which the victim may never wanted the hacker to know.
  3. Reminding the user about best low prices : AI runs over the internet like blood vessels carrying oxygen all over the body. When a user decides to compare prices of any product or services, AI helps to share the same almost always on any platform the user would be visiting. It might be extremely embarrassing for any woman if such searches start showing results when she is surfing the social media or even the search engine with a friend or another individual. Nothing is left by the AI from prices of lipsticks, hotels at cheaper rate, flight details to last watched videos on how to conceive. This might also make women face discrimination, office bullying and harassment due to several reasons.

These are but some of the many ways as how AI may make women to land in trouble. AI is necessarily connected with data privacy protection policies of web companies. The EU General Data Protection Regulation, 2018 provides that personal data may not be processed without the consent of the owner of the data.[6] But in this case, there can be legal tangles as web companies may  claim that they do not breach the data confidentiality or transfer the data to any other jurisdiction, neither they process the data without proper authorization. Here, multiple stakeholders may be involved which may include the original owner of the content or the picture which may have been processed for the purpose of harassment : the perpetrator, who may have carried out changes on the data using the AI supported Apps, perpetrators who may have unauthorizedly  stored the altered contents, picture or information or may have used the altered information, picture for creating impersonating profile etc. As per Indian legal understanding, altering, modifying etc of contents/ information/ image /images without proper authorization of the original owner of the  information etc may attract penal provisions under the Information Technology Act, 2000 (amended in 2008): these provisions may include Ss 43 (Penalty and compensation for damage to computer, computer system etc, ), 66 (computer related offences, 66C (punishment for identity theft) and 66D (punishment by cheating by personation by using computer resource etc. This may also attract penal provisions for Copy Right violation as well. Further, the web companies may be narrowly be liable for protecting data properly under several provisions including S.43A which speaks about body corporates liability to protect data. But irrespective of existing provisions, web companies may always escape the clutches of law due to due diligence clause and on the question of consent expressly or impliedly provided by the woman victim concerned. In the EU, courts are becoming more and more concerned about policy violations by web companies to fool the users. In India too, the courts must throw light on the web companies responsibility as data repository. Regulations like Data protection Bill, 2018 must be considered with utmost care. These may have the key to solve problems of online victimization of women.

Also, women users need to be extremely cautious about machine intelligence. Awareness must be spread about how the hidden ‘safety valves’ of the web companies (which may actually make the web companies more powerful against claims of lack of due diligence) may be used properly.  

Please note: This blog was first published in
https://debaraticyberspace.blogspot.com/2019/09/3-ways-how-artificial-intelligence-may.html Please note: This blog was first published in


[1] For example, see Nosta John (2019) A.I. Can Now Read Your Thoughts—And Turn Them Into Words and Images. Published @ https://fortune.com/2019/05/07/artificial-intelligence-mind-reading-technology/ on May 7, 2019

[2] For example, see PTI (2019), These AI tools can predict early death risk due to chronic diseases

Published @//economictimes.indiatimes.com/articleshow/68611835.cms?from=mdr&utm_source=contentofinterest&utm_medium=text&utm_campaign=cppst on March 28, 2019

[3] Dearden Lizzi (2017) How technology is allowing police to predict where and when crime will happen. Published @ https://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/home-news/police-big-data-technology-predict-crime-hotspot-mapping-rusi-report-research-minority-report-a7963706.html?fbclid=IwAR334Z4-1KlkK5Xrt_R6IUaU7K35bANkPLc3RAUhHUeEf-eerZseEJbSofo on October 7, 2017

[4] Halder D., & Jaishankar, K (2016.) Cyber crimes against women in India.

New Delhi: SAGE Publications. ISBN: 9789385985775

[5] See for example Solon Olivia (2017) Facebook asks users for nude photos in project to combat ‘revenge porn’. Published in https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2017/nov/07/facebook-revenge-porn-nude-photos  on November 7, 2017

[6] For more, see S.7 of the EU GDPR . URL: https://gdpr-info.eu/art-7-gdpr/ Accessed on 17-08-2019

Student Column

Non -Consensual Porn and  Human Right violation of women by Manthan Sharma . BBA-LLB, 3rd year, Unitedworld School of Law, Karnavati University . 20-08-2019

Innovations are vital for the growth of any nation. One of the astonishing aspects of innovation is technology. It is the key which expanded the human perception of public welfare. But, who would have thought that its misuse can defeat the very idea of welfare?

Every day we come across various headlines regarding harassment, stalking, bullying and sending obscene content through internet. These are the acts which fall under the category of “Cyber Crimes”.  Cybercrimes against women may include three types of issues[1]: (a) cases of interpersonal harassment (b) financial crimes such including credit card frauds (c) online harassment by strangers.

In this write-up I would be concentrating on online harassment more specifically  from “non-consensual porn” perspective. According to Citron (2014) “It involves the distribution of sexually graphic images of individuals without their consent. This includes images originally obtained without consent (e.g., hidden recordings or recordings of sexual assaults) as well as images originally obtained with consent, usually within the context of a private or confidential relationship (e.g., images consensually given to an intimate partner who later distributes them without consent, popularly referred to as revenge porn)”[2]. Halder (2017) however adds that all non consensual porn images may not be revenge porn. The non-consensual porn which may be distributed or may be stored to distribute motive to take revenge may be considered as revenge porn.[3]  Nonetheless, these are gender specific acts which are entrenched in our society where the victims are usually women and children.  There are plenty of examples victimisation of girls and women by way of non-consensual porn India : circulation of pictures of girls in their underwear, intimate photographs taken with ex, etc are just some examples. Perpetrators could be as young as 16 or 17 year olds who may have felt cheated or dumped by their girlfriends. [4].

Now here comes the most ironical part of this distressed situation i.e. absence of any law in this regard. As a result of this inaction it will not be incorrect to say that we are the facilitators of these human right violations. What is expected from the survivors who have suffered such humiliation? Aren’t they supposed to live a life with dignity? The society in which we are living is not static anymore, we are progressing. But with the evolution of society there are changes in circumstances as well (such as technology). The crimes which are taking place are same i.e. the end result is that the victim is still harassed and tormented but the mode in which the crime was committed has changed. Non-consensual porn and revenge porn violate the very basic human right of women. It violates the principle to live with dignity. The apex court in India in several of its judgements have indicated that privacy ( including sexual privacy) is a supreme right and women and men enjoy it as a basic right.[5]

Therefore, it is high time to work on this alarming situation and safeguard the very idea of protecting the rights enshrined in our constitution.

“Laws and institution must go hand in hand with the progress of the human mind”

-Francis Bacon


[1] Debarati Haldar, K. Jaishankar, Cyber Crimes against Women In India, 2017.

[2] Citron, D. K., & Franks, M. A. (2014). Criminalizing Revenge Porn. Wake Forest Law Review,  345(49), 1-38. (cited in Scott R. Stroud, Ph.D., & Jonathan Henson, What Exactly is Revenge Porn or Nonconsensual Pornography?), available at https://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=2828740

[3] Halder Debarati (2017) Criminalizing Revenge Porn From The Privacy Aspects: The Model Revenge Porn Prohibitory Provision @https://www.livelaw.in/criminalizing-revenge-porn-privacy-aspects-model-revenge-porn-prohibitory-provision/

[4] Available at https://homegrown.co.in/article/803204/surviving-revenge-porn-3-indian-women-share-their-experience

[5] State of Maharashtra v. Madhkar Narayan, AIR 1991 SC 207, Puttasamy vs Union of India, WP(CIVIL) NO. 494 OF 2012

Gender and internet : Cyber law magazine for women News update 1st -20th August, 2019

Israeli Man who harassed underage girls and young women by impersonating as gynecologist, swimming coach etc on internet to groom them only to do sextortion later, tries to escape clutches of law by faking mental illness. Psychological tests prove that he was doing online harassment in a very organised manner. Prosecutors asked the court to put him in custody unless proper legal recourse is decided. https://www.timesofisrael.com/israeli-indicted-for-sexual-abuse-of-45-underage-girls/

Man targets women staff and female HR officials with lewd messages in India, gets arrested http://www.millenniumpost.in/delhi/man-booked-for-sending-obscene-texts-367832

Law fails to deter conman : Man dupes many women on Facebook promising marriage http://www.newindianexpress.com/cities/bengaluru/2019/aug/07/man-held-for-cheating-women-on-social-media-2015312.html

Messaging apps being misused to impersonate and send lewd messages to women in India https://www.freepressjournal.in/mumbai/aurangabad-women-approach-police-after-getting-lewd-messages

Dubai police warns beach-goers regarding taking pictures of women without their consent : jail term or hefty fines await law breakers https://www.thenational.ae/uae/government/snap-with-caution-dubai-police-issue-new-warning-to-beachgoers-1.894327

Bitcoin sextortion scamming cases reaches record high https://www.cryptoglobe.com/latest/2019/08/bitcoin-sextortion-scammers-stole-1-2-million-in-bitcoin-last-year/

Female researcher of Makerere University becomes the first person to be convicted under the Computer Misuse Act for offensive communication targeting President Yoweri Museveniof Uganda after she expressed her dissatisfaction when she was acquitted of charges for offensive communication. Apparently, Nyanzi, the researcher has been protesting against abuse of presidential power. https://observer.ug/news/headlines/61520-stella-nyanzi-found-guilty-of-cyber-harassment

Court system under the Information Technology Act, 2000 (amended in 2008) by Dr.Debarati Halder

Often I have been asked by victims, stakeholders and students of law about the jurisdictions of the courts and court system as a whole under the Information Technology Act, 2000 (Amended in 2008). This query carries great significance especially at a time when subscribers, consumers and civil society members are facing numerous problems due to data theft, data diddling, and data leaking etc. by the body corporate, intermediary and service providers themselves. Such issues of piercing the veil of cyber security and data privacy due to inefficient data protection mechanism of the body corporate may in turn help individual predators and even criminal gangs to target individuals including women and children to make it a large scale offence. Let us consider the case of Facebook facial recognition case in the US : even though Facebook as a company has been strongly contesting the case, the federal appeals court has given a green signal  for this class suit whereby Facebook can be prosecuted for infringement of data privacy  and would be liable to pay a huge compensation to the petitioners.[1]  What we understand from here is, such cases in the field of cyber law, may be dealt by courts in the nature of civil cases as well as in the nature of criminal cases.

In India, the primary regulatory provision for cyber issues is the Information Technology Act, 2000(amended in 2008) (IT Act, 2000, amended in 2008). This provision indicates that there are two types of authorities and tribunals/courts who may handle cases in the nature of civil and criminal liabilities, i.e., civil and criminal court and tribunals . We may understand this typology by understanding the nature of the cases under the Information Technology Act first, which is as follows:

In the issue of civil nature of cases, the administrative tribunal system under the IT Act has three tiers.

As may be seen from the above flow chart, at the grass-root level is the Certifying Authorities. A licensed Certifying Authority (CA) who has been granted licence under S.24, issues the digital signature certificates. CAs are controlled by Controllers, who are appointed by central government under S.17 of the Act. This provision also mentions about the appointment deputy /assistant controllers who should work under the instructions of the Controller.

Functions and responsibilities of the controller can be discussed under three broader heads:

S.18 of the IT Act provides essential functions of the Controller. Apart from S.18, there are certain other provisions under the IT Act, which speaks about other responsibilities and powers of the Controller.  The functions under S.18 are as under:

  • Exercising supervision over the activities of the Certifying Authorities;
  • Certifying public keys of the Certifying Authorities;
  •  Laying down the standards to be maintained by the Certifying Authorities;
  • Specifying the qualifications and experience which employees of the Certifying Authority should possess;
  • Specifying the conditions subject to which the Certifying Authorities shall conduct their business;
  •  Specifying the contents of written, printed or visual materials and advertisements that may be distributed or used in respect of an Electronic Signature Certificate and the public key;
  • Specifying the form and content of an Electronic Signature Certificate and the key;
  • Specifying the form and manner in which accounts shall be maintained by the Certifying Authorities;
  •  Specifying the terms and conditions subject to which auditors may be appointed and the remuneration to be paid to them;
  •  Facilitating the establishment of any electronic system by a Certifying Authority either solely or jointly with other Certifying Authorities and regulation of such systems;
  •  Specifying the manner in which the Certifying Authorities shall conduct their dealings with the subscribers;
  •  Resolving any conflict of interests between the Certifying Authorities and the subscribers;
  •  Laying down the duties of the Certifying Authorities;
  •  Maintaining a database containing the disclosure record of every Certifying Authority containing such particulars as may be specified by regulations, which shall be accessible to public.

As such, other than the functions mentioned above, the Controller may also have the following powers and functions:

  • Controller may also recognize the foreign certifying authorities with prior approval from the government under S.19.
  • Controller is the authority to suspend license of the CA in case of any discrepancies in the function of the CA under S.25
  • Controller has power investigate contraventions or authorize any officer to do the same under S.28.
  • Controller may also access to computer and data under S.29 if he has reasonable cause to suspect for any contravention of the provisions etc.

Apart from this, controller also has powers for dispute resolution: As such, .controllers can take over matter for regulating and resolving any conflict of interests between the Certifying Authorities and the subscribers.

Adjudicators along with the controllers form the second tier of tribunal system for civil nature of cases under the IT Act.  Adjudicating officers are appointed by the Central Government under S.46 of the IT Act for holding inquiry (in the manner prescribed by the Central Government) in cases where any person has committed a contravention of any of the provisions of this Act or of any rule, regulation, direction or order made thereunder which renders him liable to pay penalty or compensation. Such officer should not be below the rank of a Director to the Government of India or an equivalent officer of a State Government.S.46 clearly mentions that no person shall be appointed as an adjudicating officer unless he possesses such experience in the field of Information Technology and legal or judicial experience as may be prescribed by the Central Government. The adjudicating officer appointed under S.46(1)  are empowered to exercise jurisdiction to adjudicate matters in which the claim for injury or damage does not exceed rupees five crore. In case the jurisdiction in respect of claim for injury or damage exceeds Rs. five crore, the jurisdiction to try such cases then shall vest with the competent court. Every adjudicating officer shall have the powers of a civil court which are conferred on the Cyber Appellate Tribunal under sub-section (2) of section 58. As such, all proceedings before the adjudicator (a) shall be deemed to be judicial proceedings within the meaning of sections 193 and 228 of the Indian Penal Code; (b) shall be deemed to be a civil court for the purposes of sections 345 and 346 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973. And (c) shall be deemed to be a Civil Court for purposes of order XXI of the Civil Procedure Code, 1908

But, the adjudicating officer cannot fix the quantum of punishment (especially fines, damages and compensation) at his own whimsies and fancies. S.47 says while adjudging the quantum of compensation under Chapter IX, the adjudicating officer shall have due regard to the following three factors, namely –

  • the amount of gain of unfair advantage, wherever quantifiable, made as a result of the default;
  • the amount of loss caused to any person as a result of the default;
  • the repetitive nature of the default

As such, adjudicators are responsible to handle cases of data infringement, unauthorised access to computer, offences to the computer (of civil nature), and fraudulent data leaking cases etc. under chapter IX of the IT Act.

At the top tier of the tribunals for dealing with cases of civil nature under the Information Technology Act, 2000(amended in 2008) exists the Cyber Appellate Tribunal. S.48 of the Information Technology Act, 2000 (amended in 2008) stated that the central government shall by notification establish one or more appellate tribunals to be known as Cyber Appellate Tribunal. However, it has been observed by several cyber law practitioners that the Cyber Appellate Tribunals in some places in India were not functioning properly. As such, since 2017 The Telecom Disputes Settlement and Appellate Tribunal (TDSAT) established under section 14 of the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India Act, 1997 (24 of 1997), (TRAI Act) has substituted CAT & working as Appellate Tribunal for the purposes of IT Act. It also exercises the jurisdiction, powers and authority conferred on it by or under IT Act. The TDSAT shall consist of a Chairperson, and not more than two  members  to be appointed by the Central Government.[2] Prior to the coming into existence of  TDSAT within the meaning of Appellate tribunal under the IT Act, online High Court judges could  qualify  to be appointed as Chairpersons  of the cyber appellate tribunal as per S.50 of the IT Act. However,  presently  as per S.4 of the TRAI Act, the Chairperson and other members of the Authority shall be appointed by the Central Government  only if such candidate has special knowledge of, and professional experience in, telecommunication, industry, finance, accountancy, law, management or consumer affairs.  Further, a person who is, or has been, in the service of Government shall not be appointed as a member unless such person has held the post of Secretary or Additional Secretary, or the post of Additional Secretary and Secretary to the Government of India or any equivalent post in the Central Government or the State Government for a period of not less than three years (as per Proviso to S.4 of the TRAI Act). s. 57, IT Act, 2000(amended in 2008) speaks about the jurisdiction & limitations of the Appellate authority , which to large extent is practiced by the TDSAT now. According to S.57, any person aggrieved by an order made by controller or an adjudicating officer under this Act may prefer an appeal to Appellate Tribunal having jurisdiction in the matter. However, no appeal shall lie to the Appellate Tribunal from an order made by an adjudicating officer with the consent of the parties. Every appeal under 57(1) shall be filed within a period of forty-five days from the date on which a copy of the order made by the Controller or the adjudicating officer is received by the person aggrieved and it shall be in such form and be accompanied by such fee as may be prescribed. Appellate Tribunal may entertain an appeal after the expiry of the said period of forty-five days if it is satisfied that there was sufficient cause for not filing it within that period.

Court for dispute resolution of criminal nature: Information Technology Act, 2000(amended in 2008) does not specifically mention about any court which may handle cases of criminal nature under this Act. But S.77A of the Information Technology Act is mentionable here, which speaks  about  compounding of offences According to S.77A of the IT Act, 2000(amended in 2008), a court of competent jurisdiction may compound offences, other than offences for which the IT Act provides punishment for life or imprisonment for a term exceeding three years.  As per S.77A, the court however, shall not compound offences falling under the categories as below:

  • Where the accused is, by reason of his previous conviction, liable to either enhanced punishment or to a punishment of a different kind:
  • Where such offence affects the socio economic conditions of the country.
  •  Has been committed against a child below the age of 18 years or a woman.

S.77A(2) of the IT Act states that  a person accused of an offence under this Act may file an application for compounding in the court in which offence is pending for trial and the provisions of sections 265B and 265C of the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973 (2 of 1974) shall apply. From the above discussion, it may be inferred that any competent criminal court under Cr.P.C which are competent to handle cases involving offences and punishments as has been prescribed under Chapter XI under the IT Act, may be considered as competent court for the purpose of this Act. Now, the question which may arise is, which criminal courts may handle cases of criminal nature under IT Act, 2000 (amended in 2008). For this, we may need to understand the patterns of punishments under Chapter XI of the IT Act, 2000 (amended in 2008). These can be listed as below:

  • Imprisonment for a term which may extend to two years, or with fine which may extend to one lakh rupees, or with both.
  • Imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to three years or with fine which may extend to rupees one lakh or with both
  • Imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to three years and shall also be liable to fine which may extend to rupees one lakh.
  • Imprisonment which may extend to three years or with fine not exceeding two lakh rupees, or with both
  • Imprisonment up to three years, or with fine which may extend up to two lakh rupees, or with both.
  • Imprisonment for a term which may extend to three years or with fine which may extend to five lakh rupees or with both.
  • Imprisonment extending to imprisonment for life.
  • Imprisonment in first conviction of either description for a term which may extend to three years and with fine which may extend to five lakh rupees and in the event of second or subsequent conviction with imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to five years and also with fine which may extend to ten lakh rupees.
  • On first conviction with imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to five years and with fine which may extend to ten lakh rupees and in the event of second or subsequent conviction with imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to seven years and also with fine which may extend to ten lakh rupees
  • Life imprisonment

Now, to find the answer as which court may try cases of criminal nature under the IT Act,  the above mentioned  list has to be matched with the powers of various criminal courts under Ss.28 & 29 of Cr.P.C. The powers of the courts under the Cr.P.C can thus be categorized as follows:

As such it may be understood that cybercrimes and offences recognised under Chapter XI with various degrees of punishment may be dealt by various criminal courts as has been discussed under Ss.28 and 29 of the Criminal Procedure Code. But, in such cases also, the aggrieved party (including the offender) may make an appeal to the appropriate courts including the Session’s court,  High Court and also to Supreme court. However, in case the offence includes any offence targeting children, then along with Information Technology Act, 2000(amended in 2008), provisions of Protection of Children from sexual offences Act may also be applied. In such cases, the offence may necessarily be dealt with by courts designated under POCSO Act : such courts may be Special Court or Children’s Court or the Sessions court itself.

Note: Please do not violate the copyright of this writeup. If you wish to use this writeup for your report/assignment/project etc, please refer it as Halder Debarati (2019) Court system under Information Technology Act, 2000 (amended in 2008). Published in http://www.internetlegalstudies.com on 12-08-2019

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[1] For example see @https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2019/aug/09/facebook-facial-recognition-lawsuit-can-proceed-us-court?CMP=share_btn_fb&fbclid=IwAR3RvbLbL9TmFCkeBgypZORu4dRYnQNFvbWuFfIoQN1m-n80UlFO8_26qIk

[2] see http://dot.gov.in/actrules/telecom-regulatory-authority-indiatrai-act-1997

Gender and Internet: Cyber law magazine for women News Update for July 21-31, 2019

Court releases man accused of dating underage girl, on the ground that the accused was intellectually disabled, due to his disability he was attracted to internet dating sites and the concerned dating site clearly mentioned that no one below the age of 19 can be the member of the said site. The court also considered that the accused stopped communicating with the woman understanding that she may be under 14.
https://www.irishtimes.com/news/crime-and-law/man-released-without-charge-after-sting-in-cork-1.3970574

45 year old mom sentenced to 15 years prison sentence for allegedly trafficking her female children on internet
https://www.sunstar.com.ph/article/1816574

Man arrested by police for allegedly paying families to encourage children including girls to act in sexually explicit manner in front of cameras and sharing the contents with third parties for more child abuse. The man was also accused of destroying I-pad in an attempt to destroy evidences.
https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-7300753/Monmouth-businessman-south-Wales-Jonathan-Kay-paid-families-Philippines-sex-abuse-children.html

Indian man gets arrested for allegedly accessing wife’s Facebook profile and posting derogatory obscene contents to vent out anger over bitter ending of the relationship with wife.
https://www.indiatoday.in/crime/story/hyderabad-man-who-posted-obscene-pictures-on-wife-s-facebook-arrested-1575546-2019-07-31