Social media abuse tops cybercrime list

August 22, 2015 12:00 am | Updated March 29, 2016 04:42 pm IST

ocial media abuse along with financial fraud tops the type of cybercrimes that Keralites fall prey to.

“Especially after the apex court scrapped Section 66A of the IT Act, there has been a surge in instances of abuse on social media platforms against individuals,” says N. Vinayakumaran Nair, assistant commissioner, high-tech cell of the Kerala Police in Thiruvananthapuram.

The cases pursued by the police under this section stopped in their tracks, though the court has allowed slapping appropriate sections of the IPC to take them to their logical conclusion. “Change of section demands approval from the court,” he says.

Another major challenge facing law-enforcing authorities is that of jurisdiction and international cooperation. “If an abuser or a fraudster is tracked down to a foreign country, it’s almost like a blind alley for us, as most social media platforms do not have a representative in India with a mandate to offer legal assistance in such cases. The Department of Telecom is already contemplating ways to resolve this,” he says.

Further, the question of legal sanctity of ethical hacking troubles him. “Would evidence unearthed by a hacker, with no legal authorisation, stand in a court of law,” he wonders. “It’s way too different from a service provider furnishing information on demand.”

Mr. Nair says annually some 35,000 complaints are lodged with the cyber police in Kerala, but just about a 100 get formally registered. “Reporting delays, general hesitance on the part of complainants and triviality of charges are the reason. But some cases get stalled midway through because of delay in responses. And the rate of conviction is really low.”

Online financial fraud continues to be a matter of concern. “Despite telling people not to reveal banking details over the phone, or not to respond to online offers of bounty or legacy, people continue to fall victim to such frauds,” he says, citing a recent case in which a person in Kollam lost Rs.6 crore to fraudsters.

Regions like southern Uttar Pradesh, Bihar and Jharkhand have emerged as founts of online money frauds, but the police have been able to nab offenders in big numbers lately.

“There’s a need to spread awareness, especially among teenagers, of the dangers lurking in the cyber world,” says Mr. Nair, who has handled nearly 400 awareness sessions across the State so far.

Online financial fraud continues to be a matter of concern, says assistant commissioner, Kerala police high-tech cell

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