State cracks the whip on rising cyber crime

Sets up team to deal with offences against women, children

A special team to focus on cyber crimes against women and children is being set up by the Maharashtra Cyber department, which will ensure effective reporting, detection, and prevention of such crimes. The team comes under the aegis of the Cybercrime Prevention Against Women and Children Scheme, a Central government initiative, for which ₹4 crore has been sanctioned to each State.

Officers said computers and other IT-enabled devices are being used by criminals to commit offences such as online child pornography, child sexual abuse material, sexually explicit content such as rape, gang rape-related content, online defamation, virtual harassment, cyber stalking, cyber bullying, kidnapping, homicide, and online human trafficking.

“The State government is looking to enable reporting of such crimes online, provide training on investigation and evidence examination to law enforcement officers, hire cyber forensic consultants, and set up a cyber forensic and investigation training lab,” a Maharashtra police officer said.

Last month, the Cyber department put out advertisements inviting applications for three civilian cyber forensic consultants, who will be part of the team.

“The three consultants will be in charge of training all our personnel and prosecutors in the investigating and prosecuting cyber crimes against women and children. They will also lay down standard operating procedures for cyber forensic investigation of such cases,” Special Inspector General of Police Brijesh Singh, Maharashtra Cyber department, said.

Mr. Singh said the initiative is the need of the hour because while policing the real world is easier, policing the cyber space is challenging, and requires specialised knowledge and training.

“We are increasingly observing instances of cyber stalking, broadcasting of content like rape, gang rape, and child pornography and revenge pornography. There are also instances of human trafficking online, where pictures of victims are put up on the dark net. Other cases involve women and children where their pictures are morphed in an obscene manner and used either for defamation or for extortion. All of these cases are dependant on technology, and dealing with them requires procedural, legal and technical knowledge, which we aim to tackle through the team,” an officer with the Cyber department said.

The three civilian consultants will undergo a screening and those who pass will be hired on a contractual basis. Currently, the Cyber department is looking at hiring one senior and two junior forensic consultants.

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