CPI MP Binoy Viswam asked the home ministry in Rajya Sabha on Wednesday on steps taken by the government to encourage citizens to report to law enforcement agencies on those indulging in ‘anti-national activities.’ Minister of State G Kishan Reddy did not give a direct response to the question but informed the upper house about volunteer-based groups set up for agencies in cases related to cyber crimes.
“The cyber crime volunteer framework has been rolled out as an initiative as part of cyber hygiene promotion to bring together citizens to contribute in the fight against cyber crime in the country and assist state/UT Law Enforcement agencies in their endeavour to curb cyber crime,” MoS said in his reply.
Reddy further said that the National Cyber Coordination Centre (NCCC) has been set up in New Delhi to provide a “framework and eco-system for law enforcement agencies to deal with cyber crime in a coordinated and comprehensive manner.”
Biju Janta Dal Pinaki Mishra on Tuesday had raised concerns related to the breech of privacy for citizens. Misra asked whether “concerns of infringement of privacy due to surreptitious and malafide intrusion into an individual’s online activities are addressed in this programme and its operating protocol.”
MoS Reddy’s written response was the same given to the BJD MP on Tuesday. NGOs like Internet Freedom Foundation (IFF), have recently expressed concern that the MHA cyber volunteer programme ‘could have a chilling effect on free speech on the internet.” The group has written to MHA detailing its concerns about the Cyber Crime Coordination Centre under the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA).
Through its National Cyber Crime Reporting Portal cybercrime.gov.in, MHA plans to enrol volunteers whose services can be utilised by the respective State/UT police authorities, as per their requirement.
Detailing what cyber crime cases are currently on the radar of agencies, MHA in a separate answer informed Rajya Sabha about various heads under which cyber crime is being tracked. While under the IT act, computer-related offences saw the maximum (14,141) cases, under IPC- Fraud (3,353) had maximum cases registered under the cyber crime head.
Fake news on social media, cyber terrorism, publication of sexually explicit content are some of the other cases under cyber crime that have been registered and investigated.