Advocate Rajas Pingle is a 2011 batch ILS Law College graduate, and currently a Partner at Netlawgic Legal Services LLP, a premier technology focused law firm in India. He is a Certified Cyber Crime Investigator and Certified Ethical Hacker. He regularly advises Government of India on various cyber policies. Most recently, he was invited by the Parliamentary Committee on examining the issue of “Cyber Pornography”. He regularly advises law enforcement agencies and other government officials across India on legal issues pertaining to cyber laws. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
What motivated you to take up law as your choice of career? Have you always been inclined to a career in cyber laws?
I have been a technology nerd from the early ages of my life with no intentions whatsoever in pursuing law as a career. Since my parents were practicing lawyers I got into law school. The first two years went by but I lacked precision as to the future career path. It was only in the third year of law, you can say as Buddha obtained enlightenment, I obtained my illumination when I got introduced to this amazing world of Information Technology Laws (Cyber Laws). That was the turning point in my life and from that day forward, I was certain that I am going to pursue cyber law as my profession in an attempt to combine my technology knowledge with the law. When career and passion come together, work doesn’t seem like work anymore.
Having worked with several governmental and non-governmental organizations in training officers in cyber law. You also teach cyberlaw at national and international educational institutions, what do you enjoy most about teaching?
Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world. Teaching is one of the things I love and whenever I get time, I allot it for teaching. While teaching I cultivate new learnings, ignite the imagination and instill creative expressions. It is a very satisfying experience, especially when I have healthy debates among students/officers on different aspects of cybercrime and cyber law. I also tend to learn a lot from these debates. It’s a completely different experience when I teach in international institutes as the exchange of knowledge is on the global platform and is a synthesis of varied legal practices and procedures.
Indian cyber legislation is around 17 years old. What has been its impact on ensuring safer online transactions and communications? Do you feel that Information Technology Act, 2000 needs more amendments in the light advanced technologies?
For every lock, there is someone out there trying to pick it or break in. Information technology alone cannot provide us with an absolute shield against its evil twin disinformation technology. Our only protection is law. Information Technology Act was introduced in the year 2000 and it was the first technology-related legislation in India. Thereafter, in 2008 the Act was substantially amended to include various offenses and definitions. The technology is progressing at a very fast pace and the modus operandi of the perpetrator is ever changing and evolving with the technology. Considering these factors, eight years is too long for amendment. If we consider the investigation perspective, many changes are required to increase the conviction rate. Moreover, as per my observation, India is a country where people don’t give that much importance to their personal information. One can read in the news every day, how US and EU emphasize on their data protection laws being well established and stringent while in India we don’t even have a data protection regime in place or separate legislation on privacy yet. Let’s hope the new Data Protection and Privacy White Paper becomes a legislation we desperately need.
Whether the current cyber legislation is sufficient to protect the right to privacy, which is now a fundamental right?
As of today, only Information Technology Act comes to the rescue of an individual in India for protecting personal as well as sensitive personal information. Section 43A of the IT Act empowers an individual to sue an intermediary for compensation who is negligent or fails to protect sensitive personal data in accordance with IT Act and rules thereunder. Furthermore, Section 72A of the Information Technology Act gives out punishment for disclosure of information in breach of lawful contract.
What are the most common cases being reported under IT Act, 2000?
Most common cases reported under IT Act are as under:
- Lottery Scam (Nigerian Scams 419)
- Foreign/Domestic Job offer Scam
- Fake website
- Change in Banking details fraud
- Credit/Debit/ATM Card Frauds
- Facebook fake profiles
- Obscene content
- Cryptocurrency frauds
In comparison to the past 5 years, do you feel cyber law awareness has increased among the masses?
Cyber-crime and privacy breach in India have been growing exponentially every day. In this scenario, it is important for every user to understand the risks associated with the cyberspace. This year one of our (Netlawgic Legal) initiatives is to launch a new website www. cybercrimeawareness.org, as the diverse threats we face, are increasingly cyber-based. This is for making society aware of the new cyber crimes and safety measures.
Which has been the most interesting case that you dealt being a Cyber Lawyer?
Many victims of cryptocurrency scams are approaching me these days. The underlying technology (Blockchain) in cryptocurrencies is relatively new to all stakeholders which makes the investigation and prosecution challenging.
Some law courses still don’t have Cyberlaw as a compulsory subject. Do you feel it should be compulsory for law students?
Absolutely. The use of computers in every industry and the digital India movement makes it necessary for every law student to at least have basic knowledge of current technology trends and cyber laws. While pursuing law I completed following independent courses:
- Diploma in Cyber Law
- PG Diploma in Cyber Law
- Certified Cyber Crime Investigator
- Certified Ethical Hacker
- PG Diploma in IPR
These courses were both technical and legal in nature which helped me to expand my knowledge base. In the course of my journey, I realised technology is like oxygen- ubiquitous, necessary and invisible and thus it is equally important to be apprised of all latest trends in the field.