Legal Article

India: The Emerging Hub of Cyberstalking

Shivendra Pratap Singh

Advocate

High Court Lucknow

Article | Criminal Law

Reading Time:

Published on: 2 Aug, 2023

Introduction:

The digital age, while bringing numerous benefits, has also opened the doors to new forms of crime. With its massive internet user base, India is grappling with the dark side of the digital revolution: cyberstalking. While the country prides itself on its digital growth trajectory, the emergence as a significant hub for cyberstalking poses serious concerns.

The Growth of the Digital Giant:

India, home to more than a billion people, has seen rapid internet proliferation. With affordable smartphones and cheap data plans, millions have found their way online. However, this surge in connectivity has been paralleled by the growth in online harassment and cyberstalking.

Why is India emerging as a cyberstalking hub?

  1. Rapid Digitalization: With the government’s push for Digital India, there’s been a steep rise in the number of internet users, especially among the youth and in rural areas. This vast user base creates a larger pool for potential cyberstalkers.
  2. Societal Factors: Traditional gender norms and the stigma associated with speaking about harassment play roles in the rise. Women, especially, face a double-edged sword: the liberating force of the internet and the lurking danger of cyberstalkers.
  3. Technological Ignorance: A significant fraction of new internet users is not entirely aware of digital etiquette, privacy settings, or the dangers of the online world.
  4. Inadequate Legal Framework: The laws addressing cybercrimes in India, though present, are not robust enough. The absence of stringent punitive measures specific to cyberstalking allows culprits to often escape without severe consequences.

Consequences:

  1. Mental Health Concerns: Victims of cyberstalking experience anxiety, stress, and fear, affecting their overall well-being.
  2. Distrust in Digital Platforms: People may become wary of online platforms, hindering their opportunities to learn, connect, and grow.
  3. Societal Impacts: As more cases come to light, there’s an increasing distrust among users, impacting how society perceives and utilizes digital platforms.

Countermeasures:

  1. Strengthening the Legal Framework: There’s a pressing need for India to revise its cyber laws, making them more defined and stringent against cyberstalking.
  2. Digital Education: Just as the country pushes for digital literacy, it’s equally crucial to emphasize digital safety.
  3. Encourage Reporting: Creating an environment where victims feel safe and encouraged to report such crimes can be a deterrent for potential stalkers.
  4. Collaboration with Tech Companies: Tech giants operating in India can be roped in to develop safer platforms and tools to prevent cyberstalking.

Conclusion:

While India’s digital growth story is commendable, the rising cases of cyberstalking are a stark reminder of the challenges ahead. Balancing technological advancement with user safety is the need of the hour. The onus is not just on the government but also on civil society, tech companies, and users themselves to create a safer digital India.