Ramdas Shenoyy speaks to one of India’s top lawyers in the Cyberlaw space.
Cybercrime scenario in India
The cybercrime scenario in India is absolutely serious. During these COVID times and during lockdown period cybercrime has increased over 500%. The reason being unemployment, economic disparities being created, we see lot of youngsters resorting to cybercrime to earn a livelihood. The legal framework in India exists but it is not absolutely capable of handling these, the reason being the laws are pretty outdated. The act was amended in 2008 and 2011 and honestly the technology and the nature of crimes have drastically changed and law is far behind to deal with this.
How is a cyber lawyer different?
Cyberlaw is specialization of law. Ex—you have MBBS doctors and then you have specialists who are cardiologists or people who are specializing in neuro surgery. So in law also there are specializations like there are civil lawyers, criminal lawyers, property lawyers and cyber lawyer is one of such fields, where it is a specialization where you are restricted to practice to the crimes and offences that take place in the cyber space and data protection in the cyber space. So definitely you need to have a requisite qualification, experience in this space to practice in a particular space like cyber law.
Her journey into cyber law
My focus on cybercrime and cyber law started very early. I must be around seventeen years that time. Way before when I was in my 11th standard, may be around 15-16 years old, at that point I got interested in cyber space and I learnt coding and lot of things that I started picking. Slowly when I took up law I realized I had an interest in cyber law and over a period of time under the courses of cybercrime investigation and forensics underwent training in the subject along with my law. Did masters in the subject and thereafter I didn’t get any opportunity to work under anybody in the subject. I worked under people in the main stream law but at that time cybercrime was an absolutely new subject where nobody was practicing this subject so it was like learning through trial and error at that point of time.
Cybercrime prevention strategies
There are lot of strategies that you can adopt like ensuring that your money especially with respect to online banking frauds, you could keep major portion of your money into accounts which are not linked to Internet. Apart from that always ensure that you are not writing your passwords here and there—you keep them in a password vault. Also, when you are using your bank account on cell phone ensure that you have good malware protection, firewall protection. It is always good to use a cellphone which has a good app-ware protection. Opensource software download should be avoided, do not download apps which potentially could have malware. All of these are important for cybercrime prevention. If you are talking about crimes that happening over social media like cyber stalking, photo morphing etc. it is important that you are not oversharing over social media..details like where you reside, where you go including photograph of yours which can have the potential of attracting the wrong people to misuse them. All these precautions should be taken.
Lot of physical crimes also emit from the cyber space. Always be careful where you are marking from your location , where you are going, if you are going for a holiday, better never highlight that on your social media because attracting thefts into your own house.
How serious are the Government laws ?
Cyber space and cyber laws are extremely different from the main stream laws. So whether you see the Indian Penal Code or the Property Law ( the Transfer of property act ) in India, these are laws from 1800 which are still relevant today, because the nature of the offences and the subject matter of the law does not change. But, when you are talking about technology laws, technology is dynamic, so a law that you frame 10 years back is not relevant today. A law which is 2 days back may also not be relevant today, so law needs to dynamically change with the cyber space. Our current legal framework is not able to support. I wouldn’t say that the Government is serious but they have not realized that cyber laws need dynamic amendments as compared to other legal frameworks which are legacy framework, which can last 100 years and still be absolutely relevant to the society.
Some interesting experiences
There are large number of experiences which are interesting in solving cybercrimes but majorly offences which are of social media crimes are absolutely interesting that is tracing and tracking people who are undertaking stalking, bullying all these offences. Also, those cases are interesting that involves data thefts. One of them being a very interesting case where one of the board members itself of a leading company was involved in leaking the data of the organization. That was a very interesting case where nobody would have possibly suspected and the person was simply using his devices and was stealing data into a competitor enterprise. This led to the organization leading to losses to the tune of thousands of crores.
Qualifications and academics— requisite
Qualifications and academics required to be cybercrime and cyber law professional are available but what is important is a practice in this space because theoretically knowing cyber forensics is not going to enable you to actually understand how the forensics work in the real-world space. Also knowing cybercrime, in theory, is not going to help you until and unless you know have absolute practical knowledge of cyber forensic and cybercrime investigation techniques. Hands-on knowledge & experience is extremely important as compared to textbook knowledge of the barracks of the law.
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