From last week, I have been writing about various cybercrimes targeting children, and had discussed in brief Cyber bullying, Cyber grooming and Sexting cybercrimes, Please check my previous article to read about them. In today’s article I will be talking about how one can protect self from such crime for child and parents, and finally what are the legal and other remedies or next steps for the victim and parents.
In the digital age, children are exposed to a vast amount of technology and the internet, making them vulnerable to cybercrime. Children are more vulnerable than adults when it comes to cybercrimes because they may not understand the risks of giving out personal information on social media sites, downloading unknown apps, or sharing too much personal information in chat rooms. According to the FBI Internet Crime Center reports (2015-2022), there were nearly 20% more child victims of cybercrime in 2022 than the year prior. To put this into perspective, 7 children per day faced online exploitation in 2022. In India, as per a news paper report there has been a 15 times in increase in last five years (88 in 2017 to 1376 in 2021) in cybercrime reports against children.
How to protect oneself from such crime for children :-
- Accept friend requests from only people you know well and that too only after checking the genuineness of request.
- Never accept any friend requests from strangers with doubtful, recently created or locked profile.
- Never share any personal or financially sensitive information on social media.
- If you want to share photos and videos, then do so directly with those friends and family members on private social media groups controlled by you or someone you trust.
- Check and update the privacy settings of your social media applications, keep it private so that no strangers and see the content of it without your permission.
- Never click on any hyperlink or scan a QR code or install an application given to you by strangers or if you are not very sure about it.
- Don’t keep you camera on phone or computer ON all the time, better if you can physically disable and enable only when needed.
How to protect your children from such cybercrimes for parents :-
- Monitor your children’s online activities regularly.
- Educate them about the various cybercrimes and dangers of cyberspace, and what all they can “do” and “not do” on their without your permission to prevent cybercrime.
- Keep a check on their behavior and if there is any change recently, try to understand the reason for change.
- Ensure that children use web browsers with child safety features ON, like parental controls on the browser that supports it.
- Install a good antivirus, firewall and a VPN software on the computer/smartphone your children use and keep them updated with patches regularly.
- Realities, not trust, should influence your decisions regarding your child, talk to them often openly and encourage them to talk about any issues they face.
- Do not give them access to your personal and financial sensitive information, and educate them about dangers of leak or sharing that information with strangers.
If your child is a victim of such fraud :-
Immediately file a complaint by contacting Cyber Helpline number 1930 or on their website www.cybercrime.gov.in or visit a child crime specific police station and file a FIR and take their advice. Next take a backup of all the conversations and any other incrementing details as they will be needed as evidence for convicting the culprit. Also if you feel that your financial information has been compromised, then call your bank and block your cards and change passwords/pins to such accounts.
Remedies available to the victim legally in India :-
You can register a criminal case at your nearest cyber or children specific or regular police station, under the following legal sections or the Act as per sections prescribed by the police based on your case :
- Indian Penal Code (IPC) section 292 (distribution or circulation of obscene material), section 354 (criminal force or assault on a woman with an intent to insult her and outrage her modesty), section 354A-D(Sexual harassment and punishment), section 406 (punishment for criminal breach), section 419 (punishment for cheating by impersonation), section 420 (cheating and dishonestly inducing delivery of property), section 424 (Unlawful extraction of data), Section 441 (Criminal Trespass), Section 499 (Defamation), Section 500 (Punishment for defamation), Section 503 (Threats to injure the reputation of a person), Section 507 (Criminal intimidation), Section 509 (Insult to privacy and modesty).
- Information Technology Act 2000/08, Section 43 (Penalty and compensation for damage to computer, computer system, etc.), Section 66 (Punishment for computer related offenses – theft of data, transmission of virus to system, destruction of data, hacking or access to computer or network to a authorized person), Section 66C (Penalty for identity theft and fraudulent or dishonest use of identity information), Section 66D (Punishment for impersonation fraud using computer resources), section 66E (violation of privacy), section 67 (publishing or transmission of obscene and sexual content over an electronic medium), section 67A (publication of obscene material in electronic form).
- Various sections under Indecent Representation of Women (Prohibition) Act, 1986 and The Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act, 2012