As courts in India debate the first ever case of hacking of a husband's e-mail by his wife, the development has led to a new debate on the privacy of your mail at home and at work place.
The sensational case of Neeraj Kaushik and his father Vinod Kaushik v. Madhvika Joshi , wife of Neeraj, raised for the first time the issue of alleged hacking of e-mail of her husband and father-in-law by Madhvika. The father-son duo alleged that their daughter-in-law did so to support her dowry case she had earlier filed separately with the Pune police, when the couple was staying in Pune.
Challenging the order of adjudicating officer of Maharashtra, the father-in-law moved the Cyber Appellate Tribunal (CAT). The senior Kaushik alleged that his daughter-in-law with the help of her friends illegally hacked e-mail messages and chat sessions between the father and the son and submitted the same to police in Pune. However, the counsel for Madhvika argued that the allegations made by her father-in-law on behalf of his son were without his (Neeraj's) personal knowledge and authority.
The alleged e-mail hacking case points to the growing bitterness and discord in relationships. As per the data tabulated by the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) the cases of breach of confidentiality have increased both under the Information Technology (IT) Act and Cyber-related sections of the Indian Penal Code (IPC). While an increase of 25 per cent. was registered between 2008 and 2009 under the IT Act, an increase of 13.9 per cent. was recorded under the IPC by NCRB.
The discord though, it seems, on the ground is far more profound. "Trust is under the hammer. Sadly, it appears gone are the days when sharing password with spouse was seen as a trust building process," said psychiatrist Dr Sameer Malhotra.
Asked to specify the role technology and particularly the Internet has played in fomenting discord at home and work place, he said, "In recent times, many cases of distrust between couples have come up in India. Internet has affected family relationships to a certain extent, particularly the social networking websites." However, Internet has also narrowed the gap of communication between the two, he argued.
According to NCRB data of 2009, cyber crime cases have increased from 288 in 2008 to 420 in 2009 under the IT Act. The cases have also increased under IPC from 176 in 2008 to 276 in 2009. A total of 3058 cases of property disputes, 2582 cases of love affairs and 1292 cases of dowry disputes were recorded by NCRB in 2009.
Refusing to blame technology for increasing cyber crime cases in India, cyber law consultant Anup Girdhar said, "No doubt cyber crime cases are increasing in families as most of the people are tech savvy. However, you can't blame technology for creating feud in families. Internet, especially the social networking websites, has become a tool to gather information about anyone." He argued for reviewing the IT Act since many of the sections and sub-sections were not particularly relevant to India.