Beware! Banking fraud can label you as a terrorist

An alleged internet banking fraud or duplication of debit card could be enough to brand you as one who “threatens the unity, integrity, security or sovereignty of India.” At least cyber terrorism cases in India registered last year convey as much.
For the first time ever in 2014, cyber terrorism or violation of Section 66-F of the Information Technology Act made an entrance into the National Crime Records Bureau figures with a relatively small number of five cases registered in the year. The provision was first introduced in the Information Technology (Amendment) Act, 2008 and has been in effect since 2009.
Interestingly, the NCRB data released recently reveals that Maharashtra accounted for four out of those five cases in the last year and the fifth was registered in Uttarakhand. Not a single case of provision pertaining to cyber terrorism – which experts and police officers say should be slapped in extreme cases – was reported from anywhere else.
The State saw cyber terrorism cases registered in Mumbai, Thane and Pune. According to figures shared by the State Crime Records Bureau (SCRB), two cases were registered in the same Nigdi police station in Pune (one each in May and October). In addition to Mumbai’s Charkop police station, Palghar in Thane where a Section 66-A IT Act case involving the arrest of two teenage girls over a Facebook post on the late Shiv Sena Supremo Bal Thackeray sparked a debate in 2012 also finds a mention in the list.
The Hindu had requested the details of all four cases and the gist of allegations include charges such as obscene publications, internet banking fraud and preparing forged documents. The accused in all but one cases are unknown so far. Only in the Palghar case more details were shared.
In an incident of debit card duplication , the FIR did not mention the word “national security” or any servers with key national secrets being hacked or destroyed.
Mumbai Police officers caution against the use of Section 66F IT Act which is not only non-bailable but also attracts a maximum punishment up to life.
On condition of anonymity, an officer who had earlier served with the city’s CyberCrime Section said: “During training we were told to exercise the law with utmost precaution because prefix notwithstanding, it labels someone as a terrorist. Only if important government servers are attacked, this is to be exercised. During my tenure, I never found a single complaint or situation where charges under cyber terrorism could be applied.”


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