A recent Microsoft study found that over half of Indian children surfing the internet face cyber bullying, threats, and harassment. According to cybercrime experts, schools in India are far less equipped to handle cyber bullying and crimes involving minors than comparable schools in other countries such as the United States and the UK. The graveness of online bullying has generally not only been misunderstood but tends to be trivialized by many parents and school authorities. Legal representatives in India say that the awareness level of cybercrimes in the country is low and that investigative bodies are below global standards when it comes to reporting and acting on cyber violations.
The exploding numbers of cyber bullying and harassment cases recorded by state agencies, including the National Crime Record Bureau, are inaccurate in their reflection of the true numbers. Universally, a large percentage of defamation and bullying on social media websites go unreported for varying reasons but commonly because the victim is either terrified of further attacks on them or are mortified of what others might think if it was known they were targets.
Prior to February 2013, there were no laws directly regulating cybercrimes in India. The Information Technology Act of 2000 was a set of laws intended to regulate cyberspace, but through time became focused more on financial crimes, neglecting cyber bullying, cyber stalking, and other cyber hate crusades. In 2013, Indian Parliament made amendments to the Indian Penal Code, introducing cyber stalking as a criminal offence. Traditionally stalking has been defined as unwanted advances made by a man against a woman, but now this has been expanded to include the electronic monitoring of private internet or electronic communications of women and unwanted online communications with women. A man committing the offence of stalking would be liable for imprisonment up to three years for the first offence. Now the same punishments will be applied to virtual stalking.
While both men and women are affected by cyber stalking, a study found that amongst users from the ages of 18-32, victims are predominantly female. Delhi police confirm this observation, noting that nearly half of cybercrime cases reported are filed by women who discover their faces morphed onto pornographic images and posted online, usually accompanied by a personal phone number and an invitation for strangers to call . Also, because women in the Indian culture typically control a majority of personal and household spending, they are more likely to be singled out for consumer profiling and collection of personal data. This makes them especially vulnerable to cyber exploitation. They are also easy targets on social network sites such as Orkut and Facebook where cyber harassment against women is rampant. The laws in India have therefore been weighted more in defense of women although men can seek similar protection if they are being harassed.
India being one of the prominent technology hubs in the world, should have better laws to curb cybercrimes. With rapid globalization, availability of cheap mobile phones and laptops, easy to use technology, and inexpensive network charges, India is an inviting playground for criminal cyber behavior. In the interim, people must try to become more aware of cyber bullying, its effects, and how to prevent it.