Most users neither know nor understand the impact or the possible consequences of some of their online activities. Teaching them ethical and moral behavior in general, and an awareness of children’s rights can create empathy for the victims of their communication and may address some problems such as cyberbullying, humiliating comments. However, they also need to be made aware about the legal implications of some of their online actions.
Children may also show extra bravado because they have the illusion that their actions online are anonymous and that “nobody will ever know”.
Please note that the following are legal offences: Details of offences and the relevant sections of different legislation have been provided here for the information and knowledge of the programme planners. These will need to be incorporated according to the evolving capacities of children and young persons and their age appropriate information requirements. These can also be suitably adapted for the different adult stakeholders.
Section 354C, the Indian Penal Code (IPC) 1860: Viewing and/or capturing the image of a girl or woman going about her private acts, where she thinks that no one is watching her is a crime. This includes a woman, using a toilet, or who is undressed or in her underwear, or engaged in a sexual act.
It may not be a crime if a girl or woman agrees to taking of her private photos, it can certainly be risky. However, if she expects them to remain with only certain people, then sharing them is a crime. She must expressly consent to both, watching/taking pictures as well as sharing them, for it to not be an offense. The offender in such cases of voyeurism can be punished with three to seven years of imprisonment and a fine. While this section of the IPC can only be used by girls and women, the Information Technology Act, 2000 is gender neutral.
Section 66E, IT Act, 2000: Whoever, intentionally or knowingly captures, publishes or transmits the image of a private area of any person without his or her consent, under circumstances violating the privacy of that person, shall be punished with imprisonment which may extend to three years or with fine not exceeding Rupees two lakh or with both.
Explanation: For the purposes of this section,
Section 354D, IPC, 1860: Continuously following a woman or contacting her, either online or in person, and where she has clearly shown that she does not want the attention is a criminal offence. It is punished by three years for a first offense, and five years for repeat offenses. The only exception is when a person is stalking a woman as a legal duty.
Section 354A, IPC, 1860 (sexual harassment): it includes the act of showing pornography against the will of a woman.
Section 67, IT Act, 2000: It punishes sharing obscene material in electronic form. The punishment can be jail for five years and a fine of Rs 10 lakhs.
Section 67A, IT Act, 2000: It punishes sharing material containing sexually explicit act in electronic form with jail for seven years and a fine of Rs 10 lakhs. The provisions of the Information Technology Act are not gender specific and apply to everyone.
Section 13, Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act, 2012: Whoever, uses a child in any form of media (including programme or advertisement telecast by television channels or internet or any other electronic form or printed form, whether or not such programme or advertisement is intended for personal use or for distribution), for the purposes of sexual gratification, which includes:
Section 14, POCSO Act, 2012:
Section 67, IT Act, 2000 (Publishing or transmitting obscene material in electronic form):
shall be punished on first conviction with imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to three years and with fine which may extend to five lakh rupees and in the event of a second or subsequent conviction with imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to five years and also with fine which may extend to Rs 10 lakh.
Section 67A, Information Technology Amendment Act (ITAA), 2008 (Punishment for publishing or transmitting of material containing sexually explicit acts):
shall be punished on first conviction with imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to five years and with fine which may extend to Rs 10 lakhs and in the event of second or subsequent conviction with imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to seven years and also with fine which may extend to Rs 10 lakhs.
Section 67B, IT Act, 2000 (Transmitting material depicting children, including nude or sexually explicit pictures of self, if a child):
shall be punished on first conviction with imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to five years and with a fine which may extend to Rupees ten lakh and in the event of second or subsequent conviction with imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to seven years and also with fine which may extend to Rupees ten lakh:
Section 11, POCSO Act, 2012: A person is said to commit sexual harassment to a child when such person with sexual intent;
Section 12, POCSO Act, 2012: Whoever, commits sexual harassment upon a child shall be punished with imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to three years and shall also be liable for fine.
Section 354A, IPC, 1860: It provides for punishment of jail between one and three years for making a demand for sexual favors and making sexually colored remarks towards a woman
Section 509, IPC, 1860: It deals with word, gesture or act which intends to insult the ‘modesty’ of a woman.
Section 509 can also be applied for intrusion of privacy intending to insult the modesty of a woman if a person obtains a woman’s contact details and tries to contact constantly against her will. The IPC is not very clear about the meaning of “modesty of a woman” but the Courts usually make the determination based on the circumstances surrounding the incident. The Supreme Court referred to ‘modesty’ as “feminine decency” and a virtue that women possess due to their sex. For Section 509 to apply, the offender should have uttered any word, made a gesture or sound, or exhibited any object, or intruded on the privacy of a woman, with the intention that this should be seen and heard by the woman. The punishment can be a term of simple imprisonment up to three years.
In addition to the above-mentioned provisions in the IPC that that apply only to females, there are other laws which apply generally. Section 294 of the IPC punishes any obscene words uttered in a public place. Section 295A of the IPC punishes words, either written or spoken, which insult someone’s religions or religious beliefs. Section 3(1)(x) of the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act deals with caste-based abuse. Section 503 of the IPC deals with threats to injure any person, their reputation, or their property and Section 506 of the IPC provides for a jail term of seven years and a fine as punishment for criminal intimidation.
Victimizing by way of revenge porn has become a common phenomenon in India now. This is often also practiced by children below 18 years of age. It may be described as “an act whereby a perpetrator satisfies his anger and frustration for a broken relationship through publicizing false, sexually provocative portrayal of his/her victim, by misusing information that he may have known naturally and that he may have stored on his computer, or phone, or may have been conveyed to his electronic device by the victim herself, or may have been stored in the device with the consent of the victim herself; and which may essentially have been done to publicly defame the victim.”
While revenge porn essentially creates sexual violence against girls and women, it necessarily involves voyeurism, hacking, stalking, and violation of privacy. There is no specific law for revenge porn but the offences can be regulated by applying Section 354C, IPC (Voyeurism), Section 66E, IT Act (violation of privacy) and Section 509, IPC (harming the modesty of women). Revenge porn should also be seen in the perspective of indecent representation of women.
Section 66C, IT Act, 2000 which deals with identity theft, provides for jail for three years a fine of Rupees one lakh if it is shown that someone stole or dishonestly used another person’s password, digital signature, or any other unique identifying feature. Section 66D provides similar punishment for cheating by personation by using a computer source, i.e., if someone creates a fake social media account in someone else’s name and cheats anyone through it.
Identity theft, Section 66C IT Act, 2000: 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 that extends up to three years and shall also be liable to fine which may extend to Rupees one lakh.
Section 66D, IT Act (Impersonation), 2000: Whoever, by means of any communication device or computer resource cheats by personation (assumes the identity of someone else with the intention of fooling or deceiving the 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.
Section 66B, IT Act, 2000 (Stolen Computer): Whoever dishonestly receives or retains any stolen computer resource or communication device knowing or having reason to believe that the same to be a stolen computer resource or communication device, shall be punished with imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to three years or with fine which may extend to Rupees one lakh or with both.
Watching movies on copied DVDs or downloaded from Torrent sites may not currently be a crime in India, it certainly is in many countries as such acts constitute infringement of copyright.
In the wake of messages that several internet service providers posted on their websites, the Bombay High Court ruled that “the offense is not in viewing, but in making a prejudicial distribution, a public exhibition or letting for sale or hire without appropriate permission copyright-protected material.” The messages by the ISPs, displayed when users try to open blocked websites, said, “Viewing, downloading, exhibiting or duplicating an illicit copy of the contents is punishable as an offence under different sections of the Copyright Act, 1957.”
Downloading movies, music and copyright content from the internet is against the Indian copyright law, as are uploading copyright content to the web. By the way, saving images off the web, uploading them elsewhere like Reddit, making memes out of them, using them in your projects, etc are illegal too. That image does not belong to you; its copyright belongs to someone else, so you can’t profit from it without their permission.
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