Cyber Abuse

    Cyber abuse is quite a matter of concern these days since most people nowadays, by means of social media, post images or content that may be considered to be inappropriate and on the basis of which, a person may be subject to ridicule or harassment. Also, cyber abuse related to business not only negatively affects their work but also their mental health. Because of these persisting problems, such persons are left with no solutions.

    They are not aware of what they have to do further to prevent themselves from falling into this trap again. This happens primarily because of lack of awareness and laws to prevent themselves from such abuse. Things on social media spread like fire and this makes a negative image of the victim in the eyes of people[1]. Many people do such acts either because of some rivalry or negative emotions or out of frustration. The result of this is that the life of the victim is spoiled. People decide on their own as to who is at fault and who is the victim without knowing the reality. This should be prevented but the problem persists and there are no such means to prevent this abuse. The cases of cyber abuse can also be related to the issue of defamation, as social media’s reach is at the public level.

    Recently the Indian government has come up with some policies in 2019. One such policy was CERT-In, an agency that signed various MoUs to help to tackle cyber security and is helping to reduce the number of cyber attacks on government networks. Another policy is of 2013, which is the National Cyber Security Policy. This policy particularly focuses on building secure cyberspace for personal information, business information, etc., and also helps to respond to any abuse reported. 

    HARMS OF CYBER ABUSE 

    I am putting together a situation that is seen around in different areas (family, friends, political, financial, etc.). When individuals abuse, they get caught and reported to authorities as abusing anyone is a punishable offense. Since technology is getting more and more robust people to abuse electronically.  It is unfair for victims who get into this. Also, cyber abuse was not a common offense earlier, so no actions were taken to control or regulate that offense. 

    People who abuse, think that there are no repercussions to their actions. This is not fair as the victim goes through the torture mentally and in many cases, it ends up into depression, and in more serious cases even suicide. It has also been noticed that abusing electronically has more impact on the victims than face to face. It becomes difficult for parents to deal with teenagers, as the available technologies are making it easier for kids and everyone else. Due to lack of any strict laws, cyber abuse has become very normal. 

    Grown-up kids do not have intentions to work things out and they are more interested in dominating and showing power. Some people get more creative and they use fake IDs and use that as the model for their communication. Since information is always available and the victim keeps on going through that in many different ways and starts getting into multiple things which can lead to any problem. Many a times, situations get intense and the victim feels that there is no other solution for this. Studies have shown that there is a direct link between the increasing percentage of suicide cases and cyber-crimes, which is a serious issue with the younger generation.

    Many people also use this for sharing controversial views without knowing the consequences of their actions. Individuals need to be very watchful on how to speak and write, especially on social media.  Nothing which we write on the web is private as it is available to everyone, so one needs to be careful in which context they are making statements and who all can view the content. No personal information, pictures, the password should be shared through unsecured emails, social media [2], etc. 

    This issue is not only pertinent to the kids. These days politicians also do online bullying by putting blame on the other party for something, maybe in order to shift attention away from the real issues or whatsoever.  The goal of the political candidate is to cast doubt on the abilities of another person by blaming them for something that needs to be addressed in the country. Sabotaging someone’s reputation is one of the oldest political tactics.  They use behind-the-scenes tactics or develop a smear campaign online to meet the same objective.  The goal may be to damage someone’s reputation so badly that they no longer pose a threat to their ideology. With all of this, kids are getting impacted every day which is a serious concern around the world.  

    Financial institutions are another area where one needs to be careful while sharing details as there is some sensitive information which one should not share without having any confirmation with whom they are talking. Recent high-profile cases of financial institutions being targeted by cyber criminals, such as the attack on the Bangladesh Central Bank in February 2016 that resulted in a loss of more than $100 million, illustrating the dangers posed by cybercrime to the international financial system.  As per a study done by Accenture, cyber attacks are changing due to evolving targets, evolving impact, and evolving techniques.  

    As cybercrime evolves, business leaders are facing an expanding threat landscape from malicious nation-states, indirect supply chain attacks, and information threats. Organizations are introducing new technologies to drive innovation and growth so that they can be secured. Humans are increasingly targeted as the weakest link in cyber defences. Online financial services provide many ways of making multiple, worldwide financial transactions very quickly without any need for physical monetary transactions.

    These days online payment systems have made it easier to carry our cross-border monetary transactions in poorly regulated jurisdictions. Some e-Payment systems even allow the opening of anonymous accounts.  Prepaid cards can also be used for making anonymous transactions. All of these make it increasingly difficult to track down all these activities. Online gambling and shopping sites also provide the means for money laundering. People are running online businesses using VPN because of which they have minimized the chances of getting caught, and because of this people are getting more involved in such kinds of businesses.

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    PREVENTIVE MEASURES THAT NEED TO BE ADOPTED

    ROLE OF PARENTS

    A few measures can be taken to protect people from cyber abuse. This can be done by talking to children whether they are aware of any situation where someone is bullying some person or some person is getting bullied on social media. Doing this will help parents to know what kind of activities their children are involved in. Another way is to use a celebrity card because nowadays, youth follow some of the other famous personalities. Children choose them as their role models. This will help to create awareness because many famous personalities nowadays are helping out victims of bullying. 

    Another way is to monitor the online activity of children by accessing their data on applications through one’s own phone by installing applications like iPhone monitoring application i.e., Pumpic. Parents can volunteer in the community to prevent bullying by having discussions with the person being bullied and also redirect the behaviour of bullies. Parents play a very important role in preventing bullying and further helping to reduce cyber abuse [3]. 

    One should take a step forward and help the victim to overcome this problem by reporting the issues irrespective of whether the person wants to take any legal action or not. Unfortunately, there are no special anti-cyber bullying laws as such for cyber abuse in India but some measures for reporting are laid down for reporting cyber defamation and sexual harassment especially for children and women. This particular step is taken by the ministry of women and child development. Protection of children from sexual abuse (POSCO) Act, 2012 is applicable in cases of sexual offences against children. 

    PRECAUTIONS AT INDIVIDUAL LEVEL

    The person who is suffering from such abuse should report this issue to his close ones and also to some technical team running against cyber abuse. These days people also have an option to block the person who is poking and harassing them. One can always ignore such kinds of texts to avoid any problems. One should not revert back to those messages and calls. One should make use of modern technology tools available to get all the details of that username ID and of that person using mobile applications and also should collect evidence(s) of what is disturbing them and then should call out for help [4]. One can secure their account and should make it private so that no one can access their information and can cause any harm. All this person can do to prevent himself from such abuse. 

    ACTIONS TAKEN BY THE GOVERNMENT IN THE USA

    The country that is experiencing most of the cyber attacks in a year is the United States of America and because of this around 58% of organizations for digital security are situated there and are always engaged to prepare themselves to make themselves ready to fight against these attacks. This nation has developed the best practices and policies to fight against these attacks according to studies done by methodologists. The government is constantly working on these issues and is trying to have more and more transparency and data security. They are continuously working on the problem of how the sensitive framework can be protected from cyber threats. In recent times, it has been said that the USA is being attacked by Russia in respect of cyber attacks and the USA came to know by using its technologies and equipment. There also have been speculations that Russia aided Trump in the 2016 Presidential election. [5]

    CONCLUSION

    Cyber abuse is a crime because this can make someone’s life so miserable that too for no sound reason. Cyber abuse should be punished and the government should come out with more policies and programs. Added to this, the government should also focus on increasing awareness among people and encourage them to report such crime if anyone feels such an act is happening. One should take a step forward and help the victim to overcome this problem and prevent them from getting depressed or commit any act which can take their life. Cyber abuse has caused a lot of damage to the lives of many people and if this isn’t stopped now then this will be an incentive for those who are encouraging such crime. More strict and quick mechanisms should be made so that these crimes can be reported and addressed. 

    REFERENCES

    [1] Smith PK, Mahdavi J, Carvalho M, Fisher S, Russell S, Tippett N. Cyberbullying: its nature and impact in secondary school pupils. J Child Psychol Psychiatry. 376–85 (2008).

    [2] Teaching Kids to be smart about Social Media https://kidshealth.org/en/parents/social-media-smarts.html , (Last Visited on September 1, 2020).

    [3] Teaching Kids Not to Bully, https://kidshealth.org/en/parents/no-bullying.html, (Last visited on September 1, 2020).

    [4] 7 Ways To Prevent Cyberbullying, TeachThought Staff, (Last Visited on September 2, 2020).

    [5] Russian, Chinese hackers boost US election attacks, Microsoft says https://www.livemint.com/technology/tech-news/russian-chinese-hackers-boost-us-election-attacks-microsoft-says-11599783555382.html (Last Visited on September 2, 2020).


    BY- SAKSHAM SABARWAL | NATIONAL LAW SCHOOL, DELHI

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