As many cybercrimes go unreported, experts believe that this figure only represents a small portion of actual crimes.
New Delhi: There was a 5.9% increase in cybercrime registration in 2021 compared to 2020, according to a National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) study. The year 2021 reported 52,974 cybercrimes, whereas the year 2020 reported 50,035 cases. The top three cybercrimes, according to the report, were fraud, sexual exploitation, and extortion. As many cybercrimes go unreported, experts believe that these figures only represent a small portion of the total number of these crimes. Only 10% to 20% of cybercrimes are reflected in these reports.
Speaking about underreporting, Ummed Meel, a cyber expert, told The Sunday Guardian, “There have been no proper laws against intermediary companies. When it comes to social media platforms, the companies do not hire any Indian grievance officers, as many registered offices are abroad. In cases like financial fraud, people usually do not register any complaints since the amount of extortion is small. In contrast, when one considers the bigger picture, one may see that the scammer makes a huge profit for himself by obtaining a tiny sum from numerous others. Similarly, many do not register any complaints about cryptocurrency fraud, as India doesn’t provide any specific regulation for this. As a result, people do not feel comfortable speaking about their investment in cryptos openly.”
Adding further details on this, another cyber expert, Advocate Puneet Bhasin, a cyber law expert, told this paper, “Digital crimes are increasingly diverse in character. Cybercriminals are always creating new methods of operation. So, online criminals are growing in line with the legal requirements of Indian law. Laws cannot be enforced every other day since the legislative process takes longer and requires several discussions, which gives the advantage to cyber criminals who are continuously developing new ways to commit crimes to get around the law.”
Similarly, online sexual exploitation accounts for 8.6% of cybercrimes; however, because of the attached social stigma and a lack of awareness, many cases go unreported.
In several cases, women often prefer not to complain, fearing the judgments and backlash from the family and society. In rural areas, several cases of sexual exploitation of women go largely unreported, as claimed by experts.
When it comes to social media platforms, there are various loopholes in intermediary guidelines. Providing an example of the loopholes, Advocate Bhasin added, “For instance, if any Indian police officer asks for data with respect to cybercrimes from any social media platforms, as these platforms have registered their offices in another country, the standard answer is that their platforms are governed by the laws of their countries. So, in such cases, if data is unavailable to the investigating officer, how will the investigation take place?”
Similarly, according to various reports, crimes through Facebook account for 60% to 65% of all crimes, whereas terrorism via Twitter and WhatsApp accounts for 15% to 20% of all crimes.
Each year, every third case is associated with social media.
Advocate V.K. Singh, a cyber expert, told this paper, “The IPC Section 66F is covering such cases that threaten the integrity, unity, and sovereignty of India, and the punishment may extend to life imprisonment too. However, complaints need to be registered.”
“In India, several tools are missing to find out the identity of the accused, this happens particularly in the case of financial fraud. Delhi police are also doing well, but more advanced methods for investigation are still needed,” he added.