By Aishwarya Yogesh Londhe (Student, Srishti Institute of Art, Design and Technology, 2022)
If any person monitors the following used by a woman, it amounts to cyber stalking:
Any other form of electronic communication
Social media platforms
For example, if someone is contacting you on multiple social media platforms despite making it clear that you are not interested in interacting with this person, then this means that they are stalking you online.
Anyone who is stalking you, if convicted for the first time, can face jail time up to three years and a fine, and on the second conviction, jail time up to five years and a fine.
If you get anonymous threats online or you are blackmailed online, you can file a complaint with the cyber cell. To file a complaint, it is not necessary to know who is responsible for the crime. You should try and tell the police whatever you know, but you don’t have to know all the details. The person threatening or blackmailing you may be punished with jail time up to seven years or a fine or both.
If someone takes over your online account, accesses your data or the hardware/software on your computer without your permission, that person is guilty of the offence of unauthorized access. For example, if someone gains access to your Gmail account without your permission.
The offender is liable to pay you damages/compensation by way of a monetary amount not exceeding one crore rupees. However, it needs to be established that the offender accessed your account dishonestly.
Impersonation refers to the act of assuming a fake identity with the intention to deceive a person through the use of a computer or any communication device. For example, if someone posts a picture through your Facebook profile, while pretending to be you, it is a case of impersonation.
The punishment for impersonation is jail time of up to three years and a fine of up to one lakh rupees.
Personal Photos/Videos of You
If someone takes, distributes or publishes your personal photographs or videos without your permission, it is considered a crime. For example, if someone takes pictures of your private parts and publishes them on their Facebook account, they have committed the offence of violation of privacy. The punishment can be jail time up to three years or a fine up to two lakh rupees or both.
It is also a crime to take, view, or circulate pictures of a woman engaging in private acts. It is known as voyeurism, and is punishable with jail time of up to 3 years and a fine.
If someone uses abusive language against you online or photoshops your image into content which is abusive or sexually coloured, that person can be punished under the law. The abusive language or picture or video should:
Relate to a feeling or revealing of a sexual interest or sexual desire against you or;
Relate to any excessive interest in sexual matters or;
Relate to content which would deprave or corrupt you, if you read or saw it online, like pornography.
The punishment for the first conviction is jail time up to three years and a fine up to five lakhs and for the second conviction, a jail term which may extend to five years and a fine up to rupees ten lakhs.
Physical Anonymous Threats
Obscene Materials and Sexual Harassment
The law punishes different kinds of crimes if obscene material is shared or you face sexual harassment online:
If someone publishes or distributes obscene material online, it is considered a crime. This is punishable with jail time of up to three years and a fine of up to five lakhs on first conviction, and jail time of up to five years and a fine of up to ten lakhs upon any subsequent conviction.
If someone publishes or distributes materials that display sexually explicit acts, it is also considered a crime. This is punishable with jail time of up to five years and a fine of up to ten lakhs on first conviction, and jail time of up to seven years and a fine of up to ten lakhs upon any subsequent conviction.
Showing pornographic material to a woman when she does not want to watch it is considered sexual harassment, and is a crime under the law. The punishment for this is jail time of up to three years or a fine or both.
Online Abuse On Religion
If someone intentionally and with malice, says or writes something that insults your religion or religious beliefs, it is considered a crime under the law. These acts are punishable with jail time of up to three years or a fine or both.
Have a question you want to ask our legal experts?