Cybercrime in Nepal, problems and challenges of changing nature of cybercrime

Cybercrime is one of the fastest growing areas of crime. More and more criminals are exploiting the speed, convenience and anonymity that modern technologies offer in order to commit a diverse range of criminal activities. These include attacks against computer data and systems, identity theft, the distribution of child sexual abuse images, internet auction fraud, the penetration of online financial services, as well as the deployment of viruses, Botnets, and various email scams such as phishing.

The global nature of the Internet has allowed criminals to commit almost any illegal activity anywhere in the world, making it essential for all countries to adapt their domestic offline controls to  cover crimes carried out in cyberspace. The use of the Internet by terrorists, particularly for recruitment and the incitement of radicalization, poses a serious threat to national and international security.

In addition, the threat of terrorism forces authorities to address security vulnerabilities related to information technology infrastructure such as power plants, electrical grids, information systems and the computer systems of government and major companies.

The changing nature of cybercrime

In the past, cybercrime has been committed by individuals or small groups of individuals. However, we are now seeing an emerging trend with traditional organized crime syndicates and criminally minded technology professionals working together and pooling their resources and expertise.

This approach has been very effective for the criminals involved. In 2007 and 2008 the cost of cybercrime worldwide was estimated at approximately USD 8 billion. As for corporate cyber espionage, cyber criminals have stolen intellectual property from businesses worldwide worth up to USD 1 trillion.

Problems and challenges

Nepal‟s cyber world is ruled by Electronic Transaction Act (ETA) 2063 that protects users online against cyber crimes. Though the cyber law is present but due to lack of proper monitoring and updates it serves little use in protecting users online.

Connection threads in cyber world
Connection threads in cyber world

The dynamics of internet has grown phenomenally where the ETA has been fixed and constant.  Internet provides easy accessibility and other facilities but at  the same technology also threats the nation in lack of proper mechanism and policies which needs to be researched and worked on.

Nepal has seen ups and downs in its technology but due to its limited policies and regulation Nepal faces a huge hindrance in the coming days. Technology has been passed on but with little governance, and lack of proper mechanism and measures to cater the need at time of emergency, Nepal faces a huge threat or challenge in overcoming the online threat.

Cyber laws have become essential in view of the rapid developments in information technology. Online communication has given rise to a new global commerce in ideas, information and services. Information Technology (IT) is changing almost all aspects of human activity like communication, trade, culture, education, entertainment, and knowledge.

With the rapid advances in computer technology over the past few years, there has been increasing concern in many countries for the need to develop and modernize the law in order to take full advantage of technological improvements and at the same time to guarantee that states can respond to computer crime and related criminal law issues associated with these developments.

The cyber law encompasses a wide variety of legal issues which includes intellectual property, privacy, freedom of expression, and jurisdiction

Nepal’s Case of Cyber Crime

Prior to 2004, the government of Nepal dealt with cyber crimes under the Public Offence Act. Nepal Police dealt with cyber crimes but they were not aware about the technical aspects of these crimes, which meant that the sanctions were not effective and relative to the crime.

Later The Electronic Transaction and Digital Signature Act 2004, also known as the cyber law, was passed. This law was forecast to be landmark legislation for the development of IT industry in Nepal. Under Act of 2004, hacking, deleting data, stealing e-documents, software piracy and posting defamatory information invite criminal and civil sanctioning to individuals and institutions.

Under this law, the government can punish cyber offenders with up to five years of imprisonment and/or a fine of up to fifty thousand rupees. However, much depends on the severity of the crime. The  law has tightened the security for banking transactions through electronic means, which should boost the economic activities across the Internet via Nepal.

Section 47, Electronic Transactions Act (2008), Publication of Illegal Materials in Electronic Form.

This section states that it is an offense to publish or display any material in the electronic media, including the Internet, which may be contrary to public morality or decent behavior, or which is prohibited to publish or display by the prevailing law. The penalty for this offense is a fine of 1,000 Rupees and/or up to five years‟ imprisonment. Subsequent offenses will be punished for each  time with a 1.5% increase of the penalty prescribed for the previous conviction

The biggest challenge before the cyber law is its integration with the legacy system of laws applicable to the physical world. The unique structure of the Internet has raised several legal concerns. While grounded  in  physical  computers  and  other  electronic  devices,  the  Internet  is  independent  of  any geographic location. While real individuals connect to the Internet and interact with others,  it is possible for them to withhold personal information and make their real identities anonymous.

If there are laws that could govern the Internet, then it appears that such laws would be fundamentally different from laws that geographic nations use today. Since the Internet defies geographical  boundaries, national laws will no longer apply. Instead, an entirely new set of laws will be created to address concerns like intellectual property and individual rights. In effect, the Internet will exist as its own sovereign nation.