Tag: Cyber safety tips

Computer: Basic legal understanding

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.[1]

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.[2] 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 or signals”.[3]

 The definitions 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 by laws:

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 network

Hence, this definition explains the term from 4 main aspects:

  • Nature : any electronic, magnetic, optical or other high-speed  data processing device or system
  • What does it perform :  performs logical, arithmetic, and  memory functions
  • How does it perform the task :  by manipulations of electronic, magnetic or optical  impulses,
  • What 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 network.

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.
  • Smart phones
  • Smart digital cameras
  • Ipads, laptops, desktops, pen drives, smart TVs , Smart toys 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

[1] 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

[2] See https://dictionary.cambridge.org/dictionary/english/computer. Accessed on 02-01.2019

[3] Retrieved from https://www.google.com/search?rlz=1C1CHBF_enIN822IN822&biw=1366&bih=608&q=Dictionary#dobs=computer  on 02.01.2019

Women, be careful when you join ‘groups’ in Facebook


Couple of day’s back I came through a research which showed that women are more attracted to social networking through popular social media like the Facebook or Twitter than men (See http://in.lifestyle.yahoo.com/women-more-attracted-facebook-twitter-men-study-105041750.html). Being a woman myself, I cannot wholeheartedly agree with this research as I have seen many men *also* have taken likings for social networking too. But this research made it once again crystal clear: women are vulnerable in the net. In this era of social media, women do not click in the Facebook or Twitter just as a leisure activity only. I see these Medias as mines of informations; and I am sure many women like me visit these ‘mines’ for gathering useful informations, which are essential for home maintenance, baby care to safe e-banking, online shopping, part time or full time jobs from home etc. Where do we find these mines? Anywhere and everywhere if you have your 6th sense ready for gaining the informations. I look specifically for the ‘groups’ and ‘trending topics’ for gathering informations, which in very sophisticated term, can also be called as ‘data mining’.
          But women of my genre, beware!
All is not safe when you switch on your Facebook account with your personal informations and albums open to your friends. In a ‘group,’ in the Facebook, there are numbers of privacy issues which may bother members, especially women members; let me detail them here:
1.     If one member tags you or your photo, your well protected informations, status updates and even the entire album can be pulled out from your profile. Do not feel secured if you have made your informations available for your friends and not for the public. You may never know, but your friend’s friends can also view your ‘secrets’ meant only for your friends.
2.    A group expands by snow balling its members through existing members. So if any one of the members mistakenly adds any unwanted individual, the security of the other members may be jeopardized.
3.    You may get introduced to many likeminded members in a group, who may be interested in knowing you more closely. But be careful. Once an individual sends a friend’s request, he/she may be able to see the status updates and the new addings to the album if they are not ‘protected’; this is possible even when the ‘friend’s request’ is in the ‘pending’ status. Hence if you do not wish to share anything with him/her, immediately close your door to him/her.
4.    Remember if this is not a closed group, your contributions to the group may be visible in  the world wide web if someone searches for your name.
These are but some of my own findings from my own experiences in the Facebook. But women, don’t withdraw yourself. There are more ‘safety pins’ available for protecting the loop holes.
Ø Facebook offers few types of friend’s category, namely; acquaintances, friends and close friends. It falls upon you to categorize your ‘friends’ for a better networking.
Ø When it is an open group, be careful to choose your words for contribution.
Ø Be watchful; if you are tagged without your permission, ‘de-tag’ yourself .
Ø Take immediate decision regarding friend’s requests. Pending requests may add more privacy risks.
Ø If you are a member in a group which allows snow balling, be sure to add known and reliable friends. This is will make you a safety valve in your own group.
At the end, let your friends be aware of the positive side of social networking. Being a social species,  no human beings are fallible. But remember, we are humans and a little bit of awareness would definitely make our lives in the well webbed world wonderful.

Please Note: Do not violate copyright of this blog. If you would like to use informations provided in this blog for your own assignment/writeup/project/blog/article, please cite it as “Halder D. (2012), “Women, be careful when you join groups in Facebook”, 6th September,2012, published in http://debaraticyberspace.blogspot.com/

What Every Woman Should Know About Orkut


In the late 2006 when I joined Orkut on the pursuance of a very close friend of mine, I found this particular site as an open gallery to show case pictures, and friend’s comments. Nonetheless, I found out very good  “communities” to discuss about varieties of affairs too. But in 2006 /7 the security of the data fed in the social networking sites was very poor compared to today’s security measures taken by these Social networking sites. As such, I had many “visitors” who wanted to befriend me in weird types. No doubt, those who have been using Orkut since then must have experienced similar things. But the irony is, in 2011 also, women have to experience similar  bad encounters in Orkut. Nonetheless, Orkut has developed quite a few security measures for the users, but many of the users may remain oblivious of them. Hence, when in Orkut, check the followings:
  1. To protect your wall from being viewed by others including your friends, use the new version of Orkut. You may notice a “lock” sign after each post that is made by you. That is the privacy sign. Once you click “lock”, the communication would be visible to you and only the person to whom you have communicated.
  2. Recheck your privacy settings. Do not let others “find” you from the web. You can control this by reediting your privacy set up.
  3. If you wish to show your pictures to the world, make sure that you do not exhibit your private pictures. Create separate album for the public and separate album for your friends only.
  4. Use pseudo names if you need to protect your identity .
  5. Do not let others to handle your account.
  6. In your favorite community, use the words carefully. Remember, provoked men and women may see you as a perpetual ‘nuisance’.
  7. There will be men and women who may have ‘adult contents’ in their profiles. Do not try to befriend them to know why they have created such profiles unless you are seriously interested to fall in the trap. You may see requests from these profiles to befriend you. Besides saying “No”, you must also ignore and block them so that they do not disturb you in future. The profiles pages of these profiles will show you the options to ignore /block them on the left hand side.
  8. If you see your profile has been hacked or your pictures had been misused, do not try to hack the faulty profiles. Remember, it may not serve any purpose and it will anger the mischief monger more.
Happy Orkutting.
Please Note: Do not violate copyright of this blog. If you would like to use informations provided in this blog for your own assignment/writeup/project/blog/article, please cite it as “Halder D. (2011), “What every woman should know about Orkut ”, 6th May,2011, published in http://debaraticyberspace.blogspot.com/