Over the years, cyber threats as well as incidents of cyber crimes have grown exponentially. With a wanton disregard to borders, both physical and virtual, sophisticated criminals are exploiting the speed, convenience and anonymity of the Internet to execute a range of criminal activities that cause serious harm in India and elsewhere.
The 2014 National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) Statistics Report registered a total of 9,322 cyber crime related incidents in 29 States and 300 such cases in seven Union Territories (UTs). These figures mark a 69.2 surge in States and 62.2 percent increase in seven UTs from the previous year. The bulk of cases have been registered under the Information Technology Act, Indian Penal Code (IPC) and Special & Local Laws (SLL) Cognizable Crimes. The cases have been registered under IPC sections 419, 420 and 509 for ‘financial gain’ and ‘insult to modesty of women’ respectively.
The advent of Digital India and Smart City initiatives have brought about a paradigm shift in terms of connectivity, services and threats for both urban and rural eco-systems. While greater connectivity promises wider deliverables, it also paves the way for the emergence of new vulnerabilities. Indeed, smart cities need smarter policing, and better information sharing across states and with the central government. This challenge raises three related questions. First, how should the Indian Police Service prepare to address these cyber-related threats? How can policy formulation keep pace with a changing environment? Finally, how can we improve intra-state coordination on cyber issues?
Cyber crime in India
On May 20, 2016, the Indian Police Foundation, in collaboration with Observer Research Foundation (ORF) and Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce & Industry (FICCI), organised a seminar on ‘Cyber Crime — strategic vision and an action plan for mitigation of threats from the cyber world’. The seminar comprised a host of dignitaries and experts from industry, government, think tanks, and civil society organisations. The discussion focused on the entire gamut of cyber issues (viz. cyber security, cyber threats, cyber terrorism, cyber law, and primarily cyber crime), while also addressing the specific challenges to the Indian Police Service.