Cyber crime on rise amid weak regulation

KATHMANDU, June 29: Bhawanath Sapkota, a student at Saraswoti Campus at Lainchaur, who is said to be associated with the UCPN (Maoist), is currently under police custody. Earlier this week he was arrested by the Metropolitan Police Crime Division, Hanumandhoka on a cyber crime charge following complaints by CPN-Maoist Spokesperson Pampha Bhusal.

According to the Crime Division, Sapkota had shared a social networking site — facebook status — of Kiran Gurung that attempted character assassination against Maoist leader Bhushal.

SSP Bijayalal Kayastha, chief of the Crime Division, said, “Though the facebook ID has turned out to be fake we are now identifying the other people involved in sharing and liking the facebook status.”

Cyber crime of multiple kinds has increased in Nepal in recent years, and effective measures to control the situation have been lacking for various reasons, SSP Kayastha said.

Among the different types of cyber crime, social networking sites, email, threats, ATM fraud, hacking, obscene websites, web SMS threats, phishing, illegal data accessing, SMS lottery fraud and many others have been increasing tremendously, according to investigating officers.

DIG Nawa Raj Silwal, Spokesperson of Nepal Police, said that police handled 16 cases of cyber crime in fiscal year 2010/011, 47 cases in 2011/012 and 78 in the current fiscal year. Crimes related to social networking sites have been increasing rapidly in recent months, he said adding, out of 78 cases of cyber crime this year 57 are related to social networking sites.

With the dramatic growth in the number of internet users, the number of people misusing social networking sites has been increasing, SSP Silwal said.
Under the Electronic Transaction Act 2008 and related regulations, they have been trying to crack down on the cyber crime but it has been a tough nut to crack, SSP Kayastha said.

Because of lack of proper tools, techniques and expertise, police have been having a hard time fighting the crime. The investigation process has to depend on internet giants like Google and Yahoo and many other internet service providers, Kayastha said.

He said, “Due to lack of proper agreements or contracts with the internet giants and internet service providers, our investigations are often fraught.” If we demand any details for initiating some investigations, they seek a court order, he said adding, how can one provide them a court order when the investigation has just begun. Without proper details, it is very hard to crack internet-based crime, he said.

Bearing these challenges in mind, Nepal Police has initiated more training in curbing cyber crime, said DIG Silwal. “We have been working to get the latest technology for data collection and analysis, which might be helpful in the near future,” he hoped.

Naresh Langachhe of Jhapa has been facing charges of illegal data access, Kedar Khatri and Fomi Imanuebal are under police investigation in connection with a fake SMS lottery, and Subash Chandra Paudel of Kaski has been released on bail. These are some cases of cyber crime that Crime Division witnessed in recent months.

Similarly, police are investigating the fake facebook page – ´Most Wanted Criminal´ – where photos of crime journalist KP Dhungana were posted as a most wanted criminal of Nepal.

Instead of making constructive use of information technology, much of the young generation has been misusing it because of lack of awareness, investigation officers claim. Cyber crime has become a complicated problem for the government and law enforcement agencies but “no proper initiatives´ have been taken by the stakeholder so far, investigation officers said.

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