Crimes via networking websites on the rise

PANAJI: Cyber crimes in India are on the rise and with the emergence of a number of social networking websites like Facebook, the situation has worsened. Messages on such social networking websites involving inciting and vulgar language have put many individuals and organisations into trouble.

According to the cyber crime investigator and director of Pune-based Intelligent Quotient Security System, Dr Harold D’Costa, the day may not be too far when conflicts between nations could also be the result of inciting and explosive messages on social networking websites like Facebook.
Speaking to The Navhind Times, Dr D’Costa said, “There are instances wherein friends have turned into enemies and enemies have become friends. People have even divorced their wives. Instead of doing good, the networking websites have created havoc among many innocent lives the world over.”
Dr D’Costa said that the Computer Energy Response Team (CERT) is considered to be the nodal agency for all cyber security in the country. In case of any serious threat, the matter should be reported to CERT, he said.
Informing about how some offensive message on a social networking website could create trouble, Dr D’Costa said that a blasphemous message by an unknown person against the Prophet of Islam led to the road between Kandivli and Malad in Mumbai being blocked for two hours. He further said that messages spreading hatred and using offensive or inciting language can create enmity between two celebrities, two communities, two states and even two countries. Giving an example, he said the Northeast had a very bad experience due to such a message which led to violence in Assam.
Dr D’Costa said that during an inquiry by the CERT committee on such cyber crimes, Facebook was on one occasion questioned on the source of an offensive message. In reply, Facebook said that it was governed by the Federal Act and, therefore, to trace the offender, the Indian government had to use a Letter Rogatory. Mr D’Costa feels that Facebook should appoint a nodal officer in India, who can govern by the Information Technology Act. It would also help the Indian enforcement agencies in identifying the criminal within 36 hours of receiving the complaint.
He said that in the case of Maharashtra Navnirman Sena chief, Mr Raj Thackeray, wherein abusive comments were posted on Facebook, the social networking website was asked by the police to respond on the criminal but it replied asking to write a Letter Rogatory. “On November 29, we approached Facebook but till December 21 we did not receive any reply.” They only replied asking us to write a Letter Rogatory, said Dr D’Costa.
He said that even if Facebook cooperates, except for deleting the profile, their officials do nothing else. People of the country will have a tough
time in the days to come, said
Dr D ’Costa, adding that countries could have conflicts due to messages on Facebook. He also said that the possibility of India and Pakistan fighting due to offensive messages on Facebook cannot be ruled out.
In Thailand, prostitution racket is run through Facebook, said Dr D’Costa and cited a classic example in support of this. He said that a 16-year-old girl, who met a boy on Facebook, started chatting with him and became very friendly. One day, the boy told her to meet him in person. The girl responded and when she reached the meeting spot, the boy put the girl in a van, took her to a house and locked her in a room. She was shocked when she came to know that she was sold and that there were four more girls trapped into prostitution racket.
Facebook is dragging the younger generation into ruining their lives and this may lead to the young minds following the wrong path, he said and added that Goa government should take stringent action against cyber criminals and set up a full-fledged cyber cell.
Dr D’Costa said that the people in Goa are lacking awareness about the dangers of cyber crimes. He further said: police do not know how to collect evidence and how to make it admissible in the court of law, they lack proper investigation techniques, they do not have enough knowledge about the Information Technology Act and they do not have a research cell.
A 16-year-old girl in Ponda was about to commit suicide as she was depressed when somebody made a fictitious profile in her name and posted some vulgar messages.
Dr D’Costa is of the opinion that CERT should threaten Facebook of stopping its operations in India. “It is a matter of just a few minutes and Facebook will lose five crore Indians in one stroke,” he said.
When he visited Goa on December 17, Dr D’Costa made efforts to meet the Chief Minister. However, it was not possible as the Chief Minister was busy. Dr D’Costa said that in his message to the Chief Minister, he had mentioned about a roadmap he has designed to curb cyber crimes in Goa. [NT]