Crimes and the Act
over there is a great concern due to various types of crimes committed
by using computers and on the Internet.
Almost everyday there is an international story about some or the
other portal attacked or credit card fraud or some virus bringing
down the system.
Broadly such crimes can be classified as:
- Unauthorised access
- Unauthorised interception
- Unauthorised use of computer, computer system
- Computer related fraud
- Computer forgery
- Damage to computer data
- Computer sabotage
The Information Technology Act covers in detail various types
of computer crimes and the penalties provided for such crimes.
Some of the important provisions of the Act in respect of the
crimes and offences are as under:
S/43. Penalty for damage to computer, computer system, etc
S/43 If any person without permission of the owner or any other
person who is in charge of a computer, computer system or computer
(a) accesses or secures access
(b) downloads, copies or extracts any data, computer data base
(ii) "computer database" means a representation of
information, knowledge, facts, concepts or instructions in text,
image, audio, video that are being prepared or have been prepared
in a formalised manner or have been produced by a computer,
computer system or computer network and are intended for use
in a computer, computer system or computer network;
(c) introduces or causes to be introduced any computer contaminant
or computer virus
(i) "computer contaminant" means any set of computer
instructions that are designed -
(a) to modify, destroy, record, transmit data or programme residing
within a computer, computer system or computer network; or
(b) by any means to usurp the normal operation of the computer,
computer system, or computer network;
(iii) "computer virus" means any computer instruction,
information, data or programme that destroys, damages, degrades
or adversely affects the performance of a computer resource
or attaches itself to another computer resource and operates
when a programme, data or instruction is executed or
some other event takes place in that computer resource;
(d) damages or causes to be damaged any computer, computer system
or computer network, data, computer data base or any other programmes(iv)
"damage" means to destroy, alter, delete, add, modify
or rearrange any computer resource by any means.
(e) disrupts or causes disruption
(f) denies or causes the denial of access to any person authorised
(g) provides any assistance to any person to facilitate access
in contravention of the provisions of this Act, rules or regulations
(h) charges the services availed of by a person to the account
of another person by tampering with or manipulating
he shall be liable to pay damages by way of compensation not
exceeding one crore rupees to the person so affected.
REMEMBER KEVIN MITNICK?
Kevin Mitnick, a software programmer in the US, was involved
in what was probably one of the most sensational computer crimes.
He was a famous hacker who hacked into the files of Shimomura
a security expert at the San Diego computer centre. The FBI
later arrested him.
Mitnick was sentenced to serve one year in jail, being credited
for the seven-and-a-half months he spent incarcerated before
his plea. He was then to enter a rehabilitation program in Los
Angeles to be treated as a "computer addict."
Some of the important provisions of the Act in respect of the
crimes and offences are as under in which penalties as well
as punishment with imprisonment for different terms are prescribed.
with computer source documents
be punishable with imprisonment up to three years, or
with fine which may extend up to two lakh rupees, or with
- For the purposes of this section, "computer source
code" means the listing of programmes, computer Commands,
design and layout and programme analysis of computer resource
in any form.
with Computer System
commits hacking shall be punished with imprisonment up
to three years, or with fine which may extend up to two
lakh rupees, or with both
Whoever with the intent to cause or knowing that he is
likely to cause wrongful loss or damage to the public
or any person, destroys or deletes or alters any information
residing in a computer resource or diminishes its value
or utility or affects it injuriously by any means, commits
of information which is obscene in electronic form
be punished on first conviction with imprisonment of either
description for a term which may extend to two years and
with fine which may extend to one lakh rupees and in the
event of a second or subsequent conviction with imprisonment
of either description for a term which may extend to ten
years and also with fine which may extend to two lakh
publishes or transmits or causes to be published in the
electronic form, any material which is
Lascivious or appeals to the prurient interest or if its
effect is such as to tend to deprave and corrupt persons
who are likely, having regard to all relevant circumstances,
to read, see or hear the matter contained or
embodied in it.
(1) The appropriate Government may, by notification in
the Official Gazette, declare that any computer,
computer system or computer network to be a protected
be punished with imprisonment of either description for
a term which may extend to ten years and shall also be
liable to fine.
person who secures access or attempts to secure access
to a protected system in contravention of the
Provisions of this section
be punished with imprisonment for a term which may extend
to two years, or with fine which may extend to one lakh
rupees, or with both.
Whoever makes any misrepresentation to, or suppresses
any material fact from, the Controller or the
Certifying Authority for obtaining any licence or Digital
Signature Certificate, as the case may be.
64. Recovery of penalty
A penalty imposed under this Act, if it is not paid, shall be
recovered as an arrear of land revenue and the licence or the
Digital Signature Certificate, as the case may be, shall be
suspended till the penalty is paid.
For instance in Maharastra such penalty can be recovered
under the Maharastra Land Revenue code interalia by one or more
of the following process:(S/176)
- by serving a written notice of demand on the defaulter,
- by distrait and sale of the defaulter's moveable property.
- By attachment and sale of defaulter's immovable property,
- By arrest and imprisonment of the defaulter
S/45. Residuary penalty
Whoever contravenes any rules or regulations made under this
Act, for the contravention of which no penalty has been separately
provided, shall be liable to pay a compensation not exceeding
twenty-five thousand rupees to the person affected by such contravention
or a penalty not exceeding twenty-five thousand rupees.
80. Power of police officer and other officers to enter,
(1) Notwithstanding anything contained in the Code of Criminal
Procedure, 1973, any police officer, not below the rank of a
Deputy Superintendent of Police, or any other officer of the
Central Government or a State Government authorised by the Central
Government in this behalf may enter any public place and search
and arrest without warrant any person found therein who is reasonably
suspected or having committed or of committing or of being about
to commit any offence under this Act.
Explanation - For the purposes of this sub-section, the expression
"public place" includes any public conveyance, any
hotel, any shop or any other place intended for use by, or accessible
to the public.
(2) Where any person is arrested under sub-section (1) by an
officer other than a police officer, such officer shall, without
unnecessary delay, take or send the person arrested before a
magistrate having jurisdiction in the case or before the officer-in-charge
of a police station.
(3) The provisions of the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973 shall,
subject to the provisions of this section, apply, so far as
may be, in relation to any entry, search or arrest, made under
U/s 76. Any computer, computer system, floppies, compact
disks, tape drives or any other accessories related thereto,
in respect of which any provision of this Act, rules, orders
or regulations made thereunder has been or is being contravened,
shall be liable to confiscation subject to the proviso.
Some of the things which can be confiscated are:
Hardware which can include any data-processing devices (such
as central processing units, memory typewriters, "laptop"
or "notebook" computers); internal and peripheral
storage devices (such as fixed disks, external hard disks, floppy
disk drives and diskettes, tape drives and tapes, optical storage
devices, transistor-like binary devices, and other memory storage
devices), peripheral input/output devices (such as keyboards,
printers, scanners, plotters, video display monitors, and optical
readers); and related communications devices (such as modems,
cables and connections, recording equipment, RAM or ROM units,
acoustic couplers, automatic dialers, speed dialers, programmable
telephone dialing or signaling devices, and electronic tone-generating
Under S/75. Act to apply for offence or contraventions committed
by any person if the act or conduct constituting the offence
or contravention involves a computer, computer system or computer
network located in India .
The Act also has provision for amendment of the Indian Penal
Various sections of I.P.C. will be amended to take care of offences
related to electronic records.
Some of the amendments are provided for covering:
- making false electronic record,
1. for purpose of cheating,
2. of Court or public register etc
3. for purpose of harming reputation
- forged electronic record
- falsification accounts
This also clearly shows the urgent need in India for computer
savvy police, lawyers, judiciary , computer security experts
and computer forensic experts who can help prevent, detect
and fight these crimes .
Most forensic computer examiners while investigating the
computer crime normally perform at least the following:
(1) make the equipment operate properly;
(2) retrieve information;
(3) unblock "deleted" or "erased" data
(4) bypass or defeat passwords;
(5) decipher encrypted data.
There is need for such legal and computer experts who can
help prosecute the case with advice about how to present
computer-related evidence in court., give expert advise
,help prepare the case and also may protect an innocent
The virus "I Love you" has shown the world the
vulnerability of the computer systems which are prone to
computer crimes because of connectivity, lack of security
measures , absence of legislation in various countries .
The COUNCIL OF EUROPE has released a "Draft Convention
on Cyber-Crime" on crime in cyberspace for public discussion.
It aims to harmonise national legislation in this field,
facilitate investigations and allow efficient levels of
co-operation between the authorities of different countries.
There is an urgent need for uniform legislation regarding
computer crime and more co operation between different countries
in combating such activities.
© Zarana Khona 2000 e-mail : email@example.com