Cyber crimes that are grave in nature will now attract detention under the Goondas Act.

Winding up a conference of senior IAS/IPS officers here on Wednesday, Chief Minister Jayalalithaa announced that suitable amendments would be made to include cyber crime under the Tamil Nadu Prevention of Dangerous Activities of Bootleggers, Drug Offenders, Forest Offenders, Goondas, Immoral Traffic Offenders, Sand Offenders, Slum Grabbers and Video Pirates Act, 1982.

Departing from the principle that the preventive detention law is invoked only against habitual offenders, Ms. Jayalalithaa also announced that a single offence “which has the propensity to disturb public order” was enough for detention under the provisions of the Act.

Though the nature of cyber crimes that will warrant detention under the Act has not yet been defined, a senior police official said any offence or offences targeting a larger segment of innocent people with intent to commit fraud or endanger their safety would be considered serious enough for detention under the Goondas Act.

“Any repeated cyber crime that involves harassment, intimidation or cheating of innocent people in large scale” could be considered as a serious offence, according to the police officer.

“It does not matter whether the crime is committed through an email account or social network medium. Suitable amendments would be made to the existing Act,” he said.

Tamil Nadu has been witness to major cyber frauds such as the ‘Nigerian Scam’ where a group of foreign nationals, mainly from Nigeria, colluded with some local people and relieved many innocent people of their hard-earned money after luring them through false email/SMS messages. “We also had a case of major data theft. Credit or debit card data of at least 700 people was stolen using skimmer machines in 2011. The data was shared with people, including some living abroad, for online/merchandise transactions,” the official said.

Goondas Act detentions are for one year.