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
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, predict illness, predict crime occurrence, 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. 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 :
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? 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.
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.
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.
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.
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/
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
BY : Dr.Debarati Halder, LL.B., M.L., Ph.D(Law)(NLSIU, Bangalore)
During the Board Exams in 2019, several exam centers across the country including Gujarat, found unique “cheating” ways by student examinees: many had smart watches which was used to download the answers. They had apparently accessed the answers by simply tapping on the watches which revealed the answers; some had gone to the wash rooms and clicked pictures of the question papers to send circulate it to their aides who would instantly send them the answers via communication apps.
We can see here two types of “computers” : a smart
watch which would not only show time and date, but also can store
images/contents and display the same through its screen; a general mobile phone
which can take pictures, store the images, circulate information, receive
signals and information and display the same to the user. As such, the meaning
of the word “computer” has been expanded
to include many things which previously were not considered as a “computer”.
Computer is an inherent part of our lives now. It has
not only made our lives easy, it has also created many security risks as well.
While many may agree with the first part of the above mentioned statement, they
may not agree with the second part of the statement : the main reason behind
this is, many may not know the basic definition of computer as per legal terms.
Popularly, the term computer has many simple
definitions; for example, according to Cambridge dictionary, computer is an electronic machine that is used for storing,
organizing, and finding words, numbers, and pictures, for doing calculations,
and for controlling other machines.
Again, whenever anyone searches the meaning of computer on Google, one of the
first definition that appears is computer is
“an electronic device which is
capable of receiving information (data) in a particular form and of performing
a sequence of operations in accordance with a predetermined but variable set of
procedural instructions (program) to produce a result in the form of information
would show the common understanding
about computer. Hence it may be explained as follows:
It is an electronic device.
It can receive, store and process certain data or information
It may be operating under the command of certain person
It needs to have procedural instructions for operation
It can control other machines
It can be connected with devices
It may necessarily have input and output devices
Computer therefore may mean any electronic device which may perform several functions of
receiving information, storing, processing etc of data and performing some
other functions including operating
other machines which may get connected with the main computer through
electro-magnetic mechanisms. Seeing from
modern perspectives, computer may necessarily mean an electronic magnetic
device which may be connected with internet.
Presently, computer is being considered as one of mechanism
to perform crimes online as well as offline.
But computer as a machine may never be considered as a “perpetrator “because
this is infact “used” to commit
crimes. It is therefore necessary to understand how the term has been defined
The 2001 EU Convention
on Cyber Crimes, also known as Budapest convention, defines “computer
system” as follows:
Any device or a group of interconnected or related devices,
one or more of which, pursuant to a program,
Performs automatic processing of data.
What we get from it is, computer system means
Now let us see how the Indian Information Technology
Act, 2000(amended in 2008) defines it:
S.2(i) of the
Information Technology Act , 2000(amended in 2008) defines the term
“Computer” . it says “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
Hence, this definition explains the term from 4 main aspects:
Nature : any electronic, magnetic, optical or other
high-speed data processing device or
does it perform : performs logical, arithmetic, and memory functions
does it perform the task : by manipulations of electronic, magnetic or
else can it do: 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
As such, it may be seen that there are several devices
which may be termed as “computer”, including:
A simple mobile phone which is not a smart phone, but can store data like phone numbers, SMSs, images etc.
Any other electronic gadget which has the facilities of input, output, processing, storage, computer software, or communication facilities which are connected or related to the computer in a computer system or computer network
All of these can be used for committing cybercrimes
including monetary crimes, crimes against women and children, crimes involving
infringing privacy, cyber stalking and even cyber terrorism.
Hence, be careful while buying and activating all
electronic gadgets, buying second hand gadgets and also while using such
gadgets. Misuse of such gadgets for ulterior purposes may attract imprisonment
which may be as high as life imprisonment in certain cases.
Stay safe, be safe !
Note: Please do not violate the copyright of this blog. If you wish to use it for your assignment/ writeup/ research etc, please refer it as Halder Debarati (2019) Computer: Basic legal understanding. Published in Gender and Internet @ https://internetlegalstudies.com on 11-03-2019
 See for more @https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/home/education/news/board-exam-2019-students-caught-with-smart-watch-and-mobile/articleshow/68338515.cms
Accessed on 10.03.2019
In a late afternoon in the last week of February, 2019 I received a message from Ministry of Women & Child Affairs, Government of India congratulating me for winning the #webwonderwomen award in the category of Legal/policy . #Webwonderwomen is an initiative of Ministry of women & Child, BreakThrough India, an NGO which works for women and girls and Twitter to honor 30 women from diverse fields who had used Twitter positively for spreading awareness, reaching out to people in need and above all, advocating for women empowerment. Among the 30 women were women activists, lawyers, journalists, sanitation & public health activists, food blogger & nutritionist, film maker, activist promoting breast-feeding, women government officials and myself, who works for victims, especially women victims of cyber crimes. There were different heartwarming as well as heart breaking stories told by award winners ; they shared stories of failures and success, happiness and pain, the feeling of being ridiculed by others because of their support to other women. No wonder, I have also gone through the same while executing my wish to help victims of cyber crimes: I have been cyber bullied, stalked, trolled and threatened by men and women for my work . I have been asked ridiculous questions regarding my “attachment” with the virtual world. Finally with this award, I could prove that being on Twitter or Facebook or Instagram or on internet as a whole for more than the time allotted for general women by their families and societies is not that bad. I have an “unlimited” (in regard to time) access to net and my husband respects my time on net. I am fortunate to make this space. I have seen many women who are not allowed to be on net for more than a limited period by their families especially men folk, who may be enjoying (consuming) avatars of other women when their women enter the ‘restricted time period’ for net surfing on a daily basis.
This women’s day is special because as #webwonderwomen awardee I have become a proud ambassador of the Ministry of women and children affairs like my fellow award winners. This is also special because on the very day when I received the award, I saw nothing changed when it comes to cyber crimes against women. While going through the newspaper that very morning, I noticed two news items which made me think how womens day becomes meaningless for several thousands of women victims of cyber crimes : one was regarding a gang rape survivor who came across the clipping of her own rape scene and dared to walk into the police station to report not only about the physical rape, but also about the virtual consumption of her physical assault by many. The second was about duping of a woman in a renowned matrimonial site . None of these incidents is new for me. However, I salute the rape survivor who took the matter to the police. She must have undergone severe secondary victimization and traumatization by now just like the other victim that I mentioned above. We do not know what would happen to them later: how far the police and prosecution may help them ? with a limited legal awareness and fear of societal taboo, many victims like these two have to withdraw their cases and disappear.
Women’s day is necessarily related to The Convention on elimination of all forms of discrimination against women (CEDAW), which was adopted by the UN general Assembly in 1979 and which defines discrimination against women as “…any distinction, exclusion or restriction made on the basis of sex which has the effect or purpose of impairing or nullifying the recognition, enjoyment or exercise by women, irrespective of their marital status, on a basis of equality of men and women, of human rights and fundamental freedoms in the political, economic, social, cultural, civil or any other field.” The scope of this definition has automatically expanded to include gender discrimination, misogyny and abuse of women’s rights online. I was more interested in the award ceremony because of Twitter as its partner. Social media like Twitter, Faceook , Instagram, YouTube etc are used for women empowerment. But they are notorious platforms for victimization of women. This year’s theme for International women’s day is “Think equal, build smart, innovate for change” , which signifies women empowerment in the field of technology and innovative work by women and men alike for gender equality and betterment of situation of women across the globe. This won’t fructify unless web companies take the responsibility of providing safety against gross abuse of women. As women activists, many of us know that there more takers of CEDAW; but how many States are actually ensuring proper implementation of laws especially for women victims of cybercrimes is a question that needs to be researched. There is no uniform law to recognize several cyber offences against women. Majority of countries have no laws for prevention of cyber bullying, stalking, impersonation of women, online sexual offences targeting women. Sexting and revenge porn still fall in the grey line in majority of the countries. It is still considered a taboo for women to watch porn ; women who are caught watching porn/porn contents are severely moral policed by the society . But on the other hand, when men watch porn including revenge porn and nonconsensual porn, it is still considered as normal because unless the websites flag them as illegal , men (and in certain cases women and children too) may not be prevented even by the courts because apparently the victims would not have moved the police and / or the courts for taking action to take down the offensive contents . Majority of these victims may be completely unware of the fact that they have been made subjects of online consumption as ‘sex items’. Consider the case of socio-economically poor women who may be trafficked and their videos of having sexual activities may be floating for many years without making them understand how they are being ‘consumed’ by millions.
“Think equal, build smart, innovate for change” would be possible only when the society including the government stakeholders as a whole come together to take a holistic step towards preventing cyber victimization of women and creating safe place for women and girls online and in real life.
Wish you all, a very happy WOMEN’S DAY . Lets “Think equal, build smart, innovate for change”.
 See for example Halder D., & Jaishankar, K. (2014). Online Victimization of Andaman Jarawa Tribal Women: An Analysis of the Human Safari YouTube Videos (2012) and its Effects. British Journal of Criminology, 54(4), 673-688. (Impact factor 1.556). DOI: 10.1093/bjc/azu026.