Setting up of Cybercrime Cells


With the advent of Internet as a medium of communication and as a continuum in which day to day economic activities of the society are shifting more and more rapidly, it is necessary for the law enforcement agencies to establish a foothold into it and attend to infringements of the law of the land with the speed required in the 21st century. With the enactment of the Information Technology Act, 2000, a duty has been cast upon police to protect the citizens from the criminal activities in the electronic world. Setting up of a cybercrime cell by the Police Organizations of each state is an important step in this direction.


Following points need attention in this regard.


1. Charter: The Cell should have the technical competence to understand the nature of violations, which will require the attention of the law, to take immediate action on getting information of any such incident to guard the scene of offence and to prevent tampering or degradation of evidence and thereafter to collect evidence in a thorough manner and finally to present it in a court of law in order to successfully prosecute the offenders.


2. Personnel: Since the nature and extent of cybercrimes is typically undergoing a rapid change with every passing day, the personnel to be included in the Cell have to be persons, not only of adequate technical competence to begin with, they have to have the aptitude, motivation, time, resources and opportunities to constantly update their knowledge. Needless to say, the Cell has to be manned by officers, who have degrees in technical disciplines and who have had some kind of formal training in computers.


3. Supervision: The Cell will have to interact with a wide cross-section of police leadership, industry captains, senior government functionaries, respected academicians, Internet Service Providers (ISPs) and educated elite of the society and the immediate supervision should be vested in an articulate officer, who is technically savvy to understand issues of presenting the work, requirements and problems of the Cell. An IPS officer of 12-15 years service and the required motivation should fit the bill.


4. Infrastructure: The Cell is required to be equipped with the latest hardware, including a networked computer system, storage and retrieval devices, Palmtop computers, communications equipment as well as the specialised software for collecting, storing, transporting, analysing, cataloging, documenting and presenting software. Adequate and centrally located office space and transport facilities will enhance the productivity of the Cell a great deal. The Cell should have a presence on the internet, either in the form of a dedicated website, administerd by itself or as a part of the State police website.


5. Co-ordination: No single group can hold all the expertise in today's shifting technological scenario and frequent and timely structured interaction with persons from the IT industry, government and academics is absolutely essential for the effective working of the Cell. This should be resorted to not only when there is a case to be investigated, but also on a regular basis to keep in touch of the latest trends.


6. Training: Only constant training will enable the group to be effective. (We all are familiar with the popular perception that the criminals are able to outrun the cops, but no one realises that though physical fitness is a sine qua non for policemen, there is no compulsory fitness regimen prescribed as a part of policemen's duties. One is expected to keep fit in one's non-offcial hours!) Since most of the hackers are young students, who have all their waking hours for learning the trade, it is essential that the cybersleuths are not overloaded with work, if they have to match the hackers' skills.


7. Future projections: It is estimated that as the government efforts to computerise its working gather speed, as commerce moves into cyberspace, as financial institutions and banks migrate to the electronic world, illegal activities will continue to be reported in greater numbers and police authorities will be called upon to thwart the threat. The presence of cybercops will have to be ensured at local levels and unless a beginning is made right now, there will be little time to learn the new skills, initiate a new work culture and understand and successfully grapple the supervision issues.

It is therefore important for the police leadership to take the first step in modernizing the police force in this important direction, by setting up Cybercrime Cells in each state of India. The Ministry of Home Affairs may be requested to take a lead in co-ordinating the initiatives in this regard and provide funds and technical resources wherever required.