Misuse of technology in the Cyberspace written by written by Surya Sunilkumar student of Ramaiah institute of legal studies
Afroz Khan Vs State of U.P & Anr.
Humankind has achieved great technological advancement. The Internet has been an important medium of communication because of which anybody can share anything online. The consequences of such advancements are cyberbullying and harassment, which many of the children as well as adults face in some or other way. On 15.10.2020 in Afroz Khan Vs State of U.P, the Allahabad High Court observed that the technology is being misused to commit the offense, particularly against the women.
Facts of the Case
The accused had obtained the number of the victim, He started sending dirty and obscene messages to the victim. He hacked her social media accounts such as Instagram Snapchat, etc. He had sent obscene and objectionable messages from the Instagram and Snapchat of the victim to the other students/ boys. He was pressurizing her to lodge a case against the family members by dialing 1090. When the victim refused to do so, he threatened to kill her younger brother in an accident if she didn’t give him 2 lakh Rupees. He also threatened her to make viral the footage, audio, and video of the victim and also said that if the information was given to the police then the entire family would be killed.
Laws charged against the accused-appellant
Sec.386 of Indian Penal Code 1860(IPC): Extortion by putting a person in fear of death or grievous hurt.—Whoever commits extortion by putting any person in fear of death or of grievous hurt to that person or any other, shall be punished with imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to ten years, and shall also be liable to fine.
Sec.354A of IPC: Sexual harassment and punishment for sexual harassment.
Sec.66C Information Technology Act: Punishment for identity theft.–Whoever, fraudulently or dishonestly make use of the electronic signature, password, or any other unique identification feature of any other person shall be punished with imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to three years and shall also be liable to fine which may extend to rupees one lakh.
The Hon’ble Allahabad High Court observed that:
• The statements given by the prosecutrix have supported the case reiterated the allegation made in the FIR.
• The court stated that the technology is being misused to commit offense particularly against women in society. The accused has been blackmailing and threatening the victim thus destroying and disrupting her life.
• It observed that these kinds of crimes are increasing day by day.
After considering these observations, the Hon’ble Court rejected the bail plea made by the accused stating the heinousness of the crime committed.
• In today’s era the laws regarding misuse of technology should be stringent. There has been a substantive increase in cybercrime over the past few years. Everyone is technologically dependent.
• The decision of the court for not granting bail to the accused-applicant has empowered the case as the court recognized the heinousness of the case. Private sexual images are used to control and blackmail to coerce women into sexually abusive situations which affect them mentally and emotionally.
• According to recent studies some of the ways the women are harassed are Mobile text message (SMS) monitoring, Intimate photos and video blackmail, mobile phone tracking, e-stalking, hacking social media accounts. These kinds of crimes must be recognized with a maximum punishment
Technology has its pros and cons. In this case, the rationale of the court behind the order was clear, to categorize virtual bullying and harassment as a heinous crime. Information and communications technologies like the internet and mobile phones are a double-edged sword – they can be used by abusers to deepen their control and by survivors of violence to connect to help and by women’s rights defenders to inform, denounce and strategize to end violence.