Sunday, May 3, 2009

Cyber Terrorism In India

Cyber Terrorism in India is in limelight but for the wrong reasons. It seems the media and law enforcement in India are too much fascinated with the term “Cyber Terrorism” that they have not even done their homework properly. Recently, the anti-terrorism squad (ATS), investigating the “terror email” has decided not to book the accused for cyber terrorism as there was no intention to carry out any act of terror. Further, the news report also claims that according to an amendment in the Information Technology Act, which came into force in February this year, anyone indulging in cyber terrorism could be sentenced to life imprisonment. Prior to this, even the sending of threat emails was considered “hacking”.

Let us first analyse the stand of ATS. It seems the ATS has become the all powerful authority of India and it has the power to make the laws, make them operational, execute them and interpret them as per their choice. This is so because they have thought to invoke a provision that does not exist at all in India. The Information Technology Act 2000 (IT Act 2000) is absolutely silent on the aspect of “Cyber Terrorism” and the proposed Information Technology Amendment Act 2008 (Amendments 2008) is still inapplicable in the absence of a “Notification” by the Central Government. Till now there has been no notification by the Central Government in this regard. So from which law the ATS could have charged the accused with Cyber Terrorism is still a great mystery.

Similarly, the reporter of this news item has no hint whatsoever that the proposed Amendments 2008 have not yet come into force. So there is no question of applying its provisions to this case. Strangely enough, I cannot find any incidence where sending offensive e-mail is considered to be a case of “hacking” in India either as per the IT Act 2000 or even by the Amendments 2008.

Of course, if the Amendments 2008 have been notified at the time of writing of the reported news then this story makes lot of sense. The fault lies with the Government of India that failed to make clear the status of the amendments.

It seems there is a lack of “cyber law awareness” in India. The law enforcement and media must be responsible in their dealings and claims regarding cyber law and other techno-legal issues. They must acquire some good knowledge about cyber law of India so that not only cyber crimes may be dealt with properly but also there is a culture of “responsible journalism” in India.

Updates of 2009, 2010 and 2011

Also see this following updates in this regard:

(1) Cyber Terrorism is a National Security Hazard

(2) Cyber Terrorism against India

(3) Cyber Terrorism in India and its Preparedness

(4) India is facing serious Cyber Threats

(5) Cyber Security Policy of India

(6) National Security Policy of India is required

(7) Indian Crisis Management Plan for Cyber attacks and Cyber Terrorism

(8) Securing Critical National Infrastructure from Cyber Attacks

(9) Critical Infrastructure protection in India

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