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Career in Cyber LawIn 1820, the world recorded its first cyber crime. Nearly two centuries later, cyber crime is something which is affecting the lives of millions of Internet and computer users. Be it actress Esha Deol declaring that someone created a false profile of hers on www.facebook.com, young girls unwittingly getting caught in the web of e-pornography, embezzlement of funds through e-commerce, or even your own e-mail password being hacked—anybody can be a victim of cyber crimes.
Currently three kinds of cyber crimes are being committed in India. Cyber crime against people, which involves harassment, stalking and social networking crimes; cyber crime against property in the form of hacking, damage to computer source code or spreading virus in computer and crime against nations in the form of cyber war. It is against such crimes that a cyber lawyer wields his powers.
A statistics-check reveals that in India, some 142 cases of cyber crimes were registered under IT Act, 2000 during 2006 and a total of 311 cases were registered under IPC sections in 2006 (as per the report of National Crime Records Bureau). But these figures are merely the tip of the iceberg as typically people hesitate to get a formal complaint registered. Moreover, India has seen only two cyber crime convictions in the last 12 years.
However, don’t let this dismal picture convince you that there will be a famine of cases for those who aim to be cyber lawyers. On the contrary, there is a growing demand for cyber lawyers in India. Says Pavan Duggal, advocate, Supreme Court of India, and president of www.cyberlaws.net, “It would be inaccurate to say that there will be shortage of work. In fact, there are a lot of new and interesting cases that pose real challenges for lawyers.”
Even though in its nascent stages, cyber law has tremendous scope and prospects in India. With almost 42 million Internet users in India, companies taking to digital storage and dissemination of data, increasing popularity of e-banking, e-commerce, e-ticketing and even e-governance, there will undoubtedly be a need for good cyber lawyers in the future.
To become a cyber lawyer, all you need is to be a qualified lawyer, and earn a diploma in cyber law. Although there are no UGC-approved institutes providing courses in cyber law, there are private institutes like Asian School of Cyber Law, Mumbai, Indian Law Institute, Delhi, NALSAR, Hyderabad, and Indian Institute of Information Technology (IIIT) Allahabad, offering cyber law courses.
Although you don’t need to be an IT specialist, but a bit of technological bent of mind and a knack for the cyber world will only add a cherry to the cake. As Duggal explains, “You require the right blend of technological and legal knowledge. Inadequacy of technological know-how can deeply hamper your work as a cyber lawyer.”
Since a cyber lawyer has to inevitably deal with criminal law, intellectual property law, commercial and civil law in his cyber law cases, it is best to have a sound and in-depth knowledge of these laws apart from cyber laws to give your practice a real edge. Talwant Singh, Additional District and Sessions Judge, Delhi says, “Scope of cyber law increases when combined with intellectual property rights laws as in many cyber law cases, the question of violation of copy rights is also involved.”
As far as job opportunities are concerned, the field of cyber law is full of them. For example, you can choose from private practice, litigation, corporate advising and international cyber law work. Although litigation may take some time to firm its roots, consultancy has a lot of instant money to offer.
Says Rahul Matthan, partner, Trilegal, Bangalore, “A big law firm can give you a monthly salary of Rs 50,000-90,000.” However, there is no fixed initial salary that you can look forward to and you may even start with a basic monthly salary of Rs 10,000-15,000. The amount you get will depend on the law firm/company you join and also on your own capabilities.
It will also vary from case to case and, if you establish yourself as a successful cyber lawyer, then there is no upper limit to what you can earn.
But, the path of a cyber lawyer is full of challenges. Indian law is like a Hindu wife, it walks ten steps behind the husband, as the popular saying goes. Although the IT Act 2000 seems adequate enough, yet, keeping pace with the changes in a forever-in-flux field like information technology may prove to be an onerous task. The laws do need to catch up to give more teeth to cyber lawyers. Also, you need to be forever updated about the changes.
However, computer security consultant Ankit Fadia is of the opinion that instead of trying to tighten cyber laws, we need to concentrate more upon training the law enforcement agents and police departments.
He says, “Unfortunately, as of now, if somebody were to become a victim of cyber crime and tried to explain ‘what happened’ to the personnel at the local police department, then a lot would be lost in cyber-real world translation.” These are the challenges which a cyber lawyer shall have to arm himself against.
But they definitely do not rob this field of its charms. Says Debasis Nayak, director, Asian School of Cyber Laws, Mumbai, “The job can be summed up in one word, exciting! You are always at the cutting edge of law and technology and at the forefront of development since in many ways this is still virgin territory.”
Cyber crime transcends geographical boundaries. Hidden behind the veil of anonymity, a cyber criminal could do his work sitting right next to you, without your even realising it. The task of a cyber lawyer is not only to suggest a cure but also to his/her prepare clients to prevent such things from happening. If you are fascinated by the unknown and dare to tread the uncharted paths, then cyber law is your cup of tea. Go for it.
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