Types of Crimes – Online Harassment


HACKING means stealing or gaining access to another person's personal data, vital information without his/her permission, which may be used intentionally for wrong purposes. In simple words, hacking means unauthorized attempt to bypass the security mechanisms of an information system or network. If the crime is proved under the IT Act, 2000, the accused shall be punished for imprisonment which may extend up to 3 years or with fine which may exceed to Rs. 5 Lakh, or both.


If you break open the password of a device or an account and crack its algorithm without the consent and permission of the owner amounts to securing its access and control and using or misusing the information is hacking.


FAKE ACCOUNT / IMPERSONATION is a form of fraud or cheating of another person's identity in which someone pretends to be someone else by assuming that person's identity, it is a technique to mimic someone's legitimate account, typically in order to obtain resources or obtain credit and other benefits in that person's name. According to Information Technology (Amendment) Act 2008, crime of identity theft under Section 66-C, whoever, fraudulently or dishonestly makes use of the electronic signature, password or any other unique identification feature of any other person is known as IDENTITY THEFT.


If someone intentionally or unintentionally uses the identity (name, photo, personal details, financial documents, digital signatures) of another person without their permission and creates an illegitimate existence online, to harass, defame, spread rumours and threats, accounts to creating a fake profile.


FAKE NEWS / MISINFORMATION is false or misleading information presented as news. Misinformation is false, inaccurate, or misleading information that is communicated regardless of an intention to deceive. It often has the aim of damaging the reputation of a person or entity, or making money through advertising revenue. However, the term does not have a fixed definition, and has been applied more broadly to include any type of false information, including unintentional and unconscious mechanisms, and also by high-profile individuals to apply to any news unfavourable to his/her personal perspectives, accounts to creating and spreading FAKE NEWS.


If someone is sharing misleading information or spreading rumours through the various available resources, without really verifying that piece of news through trusted and secured resources/portals, accounts to creating and spreading FAKE NEWS.


CYBER BULLYING can be defined as any form of inappropriate communication or information posted by or sent online, via a messenger, email, social networking site, website, chatting room, interactive games, handheld devices or any other interactive devices; that is intended to tease/pester, frighten, body shame, make sexual remarks, embarrass, harass, blackmail, defame or target anyone on the internet.

Under the Information Technology (Amended) Act, 2008, Sections 354-D, 500, 506, 507 and 1860 of the Indian Penal Code are applicable for committing this crime


If someone is sharing misleading information or spreading rumours through the various available resources, without really verifying that piece of news through trusted and secured resources/portals, accounts to creating and spreading CYBER BULLYING or CYBER RAGGING..


CYBERSTALKING is the use of the internet or other electronic means to follow, stalk or harass an individual, group, or organization. It may include false accusations, defamation, slander and libel. It may also include monitoring, identity theft, threats, vandalism, solicitation for sex, doxing or blackmail. A stalker is motivated by a desire to control, intimidate or influence a victim. A stalker may be an online stranger or a person whom the target knows. They may be anonymous and solicit involvement of other people online who do not even know the target.

Amendment of section 354D - In section 354D of the Principal Act, the following sub-section shall be substituted:

Whoever commits the offence of stalking shall be punished on first conviction with imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to three years and shall also be liable to fine; and be punished on a second or subsequent conviction with imprisonment or either description for a term which shall not be less than three years but which may extend to seven years and with fine which shall not be less than one lakh rupees.


If someone is intentionally following another person's online activities without their consent and tracking all their online activities with a criminal intent to harass, threaten, intimidate or influence that person, it accounts to CYBERSTALKING..


PHOTO MORPHING means editing from one image to another using morphing tools available on internet. This creates more advantage to the cyber criminals by exploiting and changing the pictures of women and children into objectionable images and misusing them to promote online sex chats and pornographic or sexually explicit content or conduct, mostly done out of revenge, hatred or animosity.

Section 67 and 67 A of the Information Technology Act, 2000. The section punishes publishing or transmitting of material which contains sexually explicit act or conduct. The punishment on first conviction is imprisonment up to five years and fine up to ten lakhs.


If someone intentionally uses another person's photo online/offline, and morphs that photo into some other objectionable/inappropriate/nude photo, to harass, body shame, threaten, intimidate or influence that person, it accounts to PHOTO MORPHING..


REVENGE PORN is the distribution of sexually explicit images or videos of individuals without their consent to intentionally defame and harass out of revenge. The material may have been made by a partner in an intimate relationship with the knowledge and consent of the subject at that given time, or it may have been made without their knowledge.

Sections 67 and 67A of the IT Act are against the publishing and circulation of what the act calls 'obscene' or 'lascivious' content. The subject may have experienced sexual violence during the recording of the material. The possession and sharing of such material may be used by the perpetrators to blackmail the subjects and threaten to attain money, into performing other sex acts, to coerce them into continuing a relationship or to punish them for ending one, to silence them, to damage their reputation, and/or for financial gain


When a relationship breaks up without mutual consent, some people use explicit images or videos that they have of their ex-partner against them as a means of “revenge” against the person who sent them and blackmail them to extort money. Threats of sharing such sensitive content in the public domain forces the victim to give in to favours demanded by the predator in order to evade the guilt and damage. The impact of such crimes is long term and mostly psychological.


SEXTORTION is a serious crime that occurs when someone threatens to distribute your private and sensitive material if you don't provide them images of a sexual nature, sexual favours, or money. The perpetrator may also threaten to harm your friends or relatives by using information they have obtained from your electronic devices unless you comply with their demands. They lurk in chat rooms and record young people who post or live-stream sexually explicit images and videos of themselves.

The term ‘assault’ means to cause a physical attack. Assault not only means the situations where a woman is physically assaulted. It also includes any verbal acts as well as gestures of a person intending to outrage the modesty of a woman.

Sec 354 IPC, as defined states that “ whoever assaults or uses criminal force to any woman, intending to outrage or knowing it to be likely that he will thereby outrage her modesty, shall be punished with imprisonment of either description for a term which shall not be less than one year but which may extend to five years and shall also be liable to fine. The ambit of Section 354 Indian Penal Code is way wide. Also, it is a cognizable offence and Non-bailable as well.


If someone threatens to circulate sensitive content online in order to harass, intimidates and blackmails another person for sexual favours accounts to committing SEXTORTION.


CHILD ONLINE GROOMING is where someone befriends a child online and builds up their trust with the intention of exploiting them and causing them harm. Harm caused by grooming can be sexual abuse, both in person and online, and exploitation to obtain sexually explicit images and videos of the child. Using tactics of pressure, fear, threat, shame and guilt children and often subjected to abuse and forced to not disclose such incidences.

Storing, sharing, viewing any content, image or vidoes that depicts children in compromising and objectionable situations violates the rights to child's safety and privacy hence is considered one of the most heinous crimes and is punishable under a specially introduced act called Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO).

The Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act, 2012 (POCSO Act, 2012) is a comprehensive law to provide for the protection of children from the offences of sexual assault, sexual harassment and pornography while safeguarding the interests of the child at every stage of the judicial process by incorporating child-friendly mechanisms for reporting, recording of evidence.

Section 67B of Information Technology Act, 2008 also punishes the enticement of children in an online relationship with the purpose of publishing or transmitting of material depicting children in sexually explicit act in electronic form.


Once the perpetrator begins to fill the child's needs, they may assume noticeably more importance in the child's life. They give special attention to a child or young person, or their parent or carer, making the child or young person feel special and/or indebted to an adult. Perpetrators utilize tactics such as gift giving, flattery, gifting money, and meeting other basic needs. Tactics may also include increased attention and affection towards the targeted child.


CYBER TERRORISM is the use of the Internet to conduct violent acts or spread radicalisation that result in, or threaten, the loss of life or significant bodily harm, in order to achieve political or ideological gains through threat or intimidation.

It can be also defined as the intentional use of computers, networks, and public internet to cause destruction and harm for personal objectives. Experienced cyber-terrorists, who are very skilled in terms of hacking can cause massive damage to government systems and might leave a country in fear of further attacks. The objectives of such terrorists may be political or ideological since this can be considered a form of terror.

Section 66F of Information Technology Act, 2000 defines Punishment for cyber terrorism. Whoever commits or conspires to commit cyber terrorism shall be punishable with Terrorist’s activities being done by foreign it would be obligatory to read insertion 66F along with Section 75 of this Act. imprisonment, which may extend to imprisonment for life.


If someone intentionally uses the internet to radicalize, harass, threaten, intimidate and blackmail against our country, religion, society, spread rumours about government bodies, individuals, to cause harm and destruction for personal objectives, it accounts to committing CYBER TERRORISM.

Source: Adv. Prashant Mali - Cyber Law & Cyber Crimes Simplified, Wikipedia

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