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What is Cyber Law?
Cyber law deals with the legal aspects of cyberspace, the internet, and computing. In a broader view, cyber law handles the issues of intellectual property, contract, jurisdiction, data protection laws, privacy, and freedom of expression in the digital space.
In addition to regulating the overall internet’s happenings and crimes, cyber law recognizes popular usages, which include e-documents. Earlier, contracts, agreements, or anything of a legal nature was made on paper. With the recognition of e-documents and digital signatures, the world is moving fast toward a paperless future. Since this reduces the use of paper and increases sustainability, these processes are widely encouraged by several environmental enthusiasts.
The very first cyber law to exist was the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act (1986.) Currently, there are several cyber laws around the world, and the penalties, punishments, and regulations vary to an extent.
Following are the common cyber crimes covered by cyber law around the globe; by understanding the same, you will understand the importance of cyber law.
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Types of Cybercrime
DDoS and botnet:
This is one of the top arenas covered by cyber law, in general. Large websites are usually a target for hackers looking to steal data or extort money from site owners. Hackers do so by generating traffic beyond the site’s capacity, which, eventually, crashes the site. When the site is not functioning, the hackers steal the data or contact the site owner and demand money to restore the site.
This type of attack is known as a DDoS attack and is done via the botnet system.
Identity theft, as per cyber law, is the stealing of someone’s identity and passing it off as your own in an online forum. This is a serious concern in cyber law because hackers steal your private and confidential information and use the same for malicious gains.
Cyberstalking, as per cyber law, is the usage of an entity’s social media or online information to threaten, stalk, or extort money from them. The data collected by the attacker is, generally, sensitive and can cause issues such as security breaches, defamation, and more.
The concept of social engineering in cyber law is stealing by gaining confidence. Through social engineering, criminals usually target people who have considerably less knowledge and understanding of the functioning of banks, social media, and digital operations, in general.
By posing as a trustworthy person or customer care representative, criminals gain access to people’s banks or social media accounts and proceed to sell the data gained through the same. Sometimes, the accounts can be hacked for extortion as well.
It is usually popular advice by cyber law experts to avoid installing unknown software for the simple reason that malware can be installed into your computer and files can be stolen. Furthermore, spyware can be installed on your computer for malicious purposes as well.
This mode of gaining access or stealing data via adware, spyware, etc., is known as potentially unwanted programs (PUPs.) This is why it is common to advise cyber law and computer experts to make use of authorized service centers only.
Phishing is a crime where the hackers gain access to a person’s device via a link; the link, in a simple glance, would look authentic. The link can include gift cards, games, etc. Sometimes, links come via mail claiming that your data is stolen, and by clicking the link you can restore it.
The above-mentioned are a few of the many crimes that are identified by cyber law experts around the globe.
Following is the treatment of cyber law in Indian jurisdiction.
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Importance of Cyber Law
Cyber law is of paramount importance in our digital age as it safeguards digital assets, prevents cybercrimes, regulates online activities, protects e-commerce and consumer rights, fosters international cooperation, upholds intellectual property rights, ensures data privacy, and provides legal remedies. It plays a vital role in establishing legal order and security in the digital realm, protecting both individuals and organizations in an interconnected world.
Cyber Law in India: A Brief Understanding
India witnesses many cybercrimes annually, with over 44,000 reported cases. Among the states in India, Karnataka emerges as the leader in terms of cybercrime rates. According to a 2022 report by Statista, the average cost of data breaches was USD 2 million in India. This financial impact reflects the consequences of data breach incidents. For more detailed statistical information, please refer here.
Cyber law in India is governed by two key legislations: the Indian Penal Code and the Information Technology Act of 2000. These legal frameworks provide the necessary guidelines and provisions to address cybercrime and protect digital assets and individuals’ rights in cyberspace.
A variety of cybercrimes are addressed by Indian cyber laws, covering two main aspects: hacking systems and employing them to commit crimes of different magnitudes. Additionally, Indian cyber law encompasses a comprehensive range of domains, such as intellectual property rights and privacy rights, among others.
Cyber law in India encompasses a broad range of subjects, although it is important to note that the list provided is not exhaustive. Similar concepts may also be addressed in other jurisdictions globally. The following outlines the various types of cybercrimes and the corresponding cyber law protections.
Cyber law in India identifies the theft of identities, credit cards, and other finance-based crimes as fraud; these cybercrime offenses may lead to fines, imprisonment, or both.
Cyber law in India protects copyrighted works present in online forums. The accused are punished based on the Copyright Act and other applicable acts, rules, and regulations.
The Indian constitution ensures the right to speech, but it comes with limitations; when the limitations are crossed, it constitutes defamation. A person who defames another person or an organization will be punished under cyber law.
But, What constitutes defamation activity online? In brief, according to cyber law, spreading false information or information without evidence online constitutes defamation activity.
Indeed, with the growth of social media usage, stronger cyber law protection is required against defamation.
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Harassment and stalking
Cyber law in India protects online users from harassment and stalking. When someone speaks in a targeted way against you online, it would constitute harassment. The factors of harassment are circumstantial.
When online information is used to harass someone, it is known as stalking.
Harassment and stalking are serious offenses in India that have repercussions in both civil law and criminal law.
In general, trade secrets are confidential information about companies. Attempting to leak confidential information to the public or using the same for monetary gain is a serious offense, as per Indian cyber law. The penalty for leaking or using trade secrets is determined by the gravity of the injury experienced by the infringing party.
But, why exactly is cyber law in action against cybercrimes? What are its objectives? The following section will answer the same.
Types of Cyber Law
There are several types of cyber laws, each addressing specific aspects of digital activities and cybersecurity. Here are some common categories of cyber laws:
- Privacy Laws:
- Privacy laws govern the collection, use, and protection of individuals’ personal information online.
- Examples include the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) in Europe and the California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA) in the United States.
- Cybercrime Laws:
- Cybercrime laws focus on criminal activities conducted online, including hacking, identity theft, online fraud, and cyberbullying.
- These laws define offenses, penalties, and procedures for investigation and prosecution.
- Data Breach Notification Laws:
- Data breach notification laws mandate that organizations inform affected individuals and authorities when a data breach occurs.
- These laws aim to ensure transparency and help individuals take necessary actions to protect themselves.
- Intellectual Property Laws:
- Intellectual property laws protect digital content, patents, trademarks, and copyrights in the digital realm.
- They address issues like copyright infringement and online piracy.
- Cybersecurity Laws:
- Cybersecurity laws require organizations to implement measures to protect their digital infrastructure and sensitive data.
- These laws often set standards and requirements for data security practices.
- E-Commerce and Online Contracts:
- Laws related to e-commerce and online contracts establish legal frameworks for online transactions, electronic signatures, and consumer rights.
- They provide a basis for resolving disputes in the digital marketplace.
- Social Media and Online Content Regulations:
- Regulations governing social media and online content address issues such as hate speech, defamation, and harmful content.
- They set guidelines for the removal or restriction of such content.
- Computer Crime Laws:
- Computer crime laws specifically target offenses involving computer systems and networks.
- They encompass unauthorized access, malware distribution, and cyberattacks on critical infrastructure.
- Cryptocurrency and Blockchain Regulations:
- As digital currencies and blockchain technology gain prominence, regulations address issues like cryptocurrency trading, initial coin offerings (ICOs), and blockchain-based contracts.
- International Cybersecurity Agreements:
- Some laws and agreements focus on international cooperation in combating cybercrimes and promoting cybersecurity best practices.
- Examples include the Budapest Convention on Cybercrime and bilateral cybersecurity agreements between nations.
These are just a few examples of the types of cyber laws that exist to govern and regulate various aspects of digital activities, protect individuals’ rights, and ensure cybersecurity in the digital age. The specific laws and regulations can vary significantly from one jurisdiction to another.
Objectives of Cyber Law
Lawmakers have executed cyber law legal protections with the following objectives: The following features of cyber law make the internet a much safer place to explore:
- To be a safety net against online data predators.
- To ensure justice for cybercrime victims
- To prevent debit card or credit card fraud. Many people have switched to digital payment methods. Cyberlaw tries to make sure that victims do not have to go through the additional agony of long procedures.
- To block transactions when there is any unusual activity such as the input of an incorrect password.
- To ensure the safety of protected data. By knowing what cyber law is, one can easily adopt preventative measures.
- To ensure national security.
The various advantages of cyber law include the following:
- Better protection of e-commerce sites ensures better revenue for the companies; this, in turn, ensures a better economy for the country.
- Grievances for online transactions will be heard by the court as a part of the remedial measures of cyber law.
- Recognition of e-documents and grievances on the same will be heard by the court.
- Fixing security issues by the companies leads to better data protection standards.
- Ensuring proper usage of data by the companies.
The above-mentioned are a few of the popular aspects of cyber law in India. This is not legal advice. If you require cyber law remedies, contact a lawyer immediately.
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How to protect yourself on the Internet
- Try to maintain a few social media accounts as possible. Every information you put online is a potential way to hack your account. If you are serious about maintaining your presence on several social media platforms, always ensure that your passwords are strong. Regular changing of passwords is a great way of protecting your data from hackers. You can use password manager apps to create strong passwords. Two-factor authentication would add an additional layer of security for sure.
- Always question the app’s access permission. When you download any app/ visit any website, you will be requested a particular number of permissions. If basic permissions are requested, it is fine. However, if permissions are requested to access sensitive information such as your gallery and such, immediately deny such requests. More so, quit the website immediately/ delete the app immediately.
- Free wi-fi is always intriguing. But oftentimes it is a honeytrap laid by hackers to lure you into using it. When you access the internet via free wifi, hackers can easily get into your device, spread viruses, steal information, and more of a similar sort.
- Finally, always be suspicious of any “too good to be true” kind of messages/ calls. If you get any such calls/ messages, always report to the respective officials immediately.
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Cyber law is very important to ensure the safety of the digital world, across boundaries. Always ensure that you protect your systems from any cyber attack by being aware of the applicable cyber laws.
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