Cyber Defamation

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“The reputation of a man is like his shadow, gigantic when it precedes him, and pigmy in its proportions when it follows” ----Alexander de Talleyrand- Perigord

The term ‘cyber crime’ is a misnomer. This term has nowhere been defined in any statute /Act passed or enacted by the Indian Parliament. The concept of cyber crime is not radically different from the concept of conventional crime. Both include conduct whether act or omission, which cause breach of rules of law and counterbalanced by the sanction of the state. Cyber crime is the latest and perhaps the most complicated problem in the cyber world. “Cyber crime may be said to be those species, of which, genus is the conventional crime, and where either the computer is an object or subject of the conduct constituting crime “Any criminal activity that uses a computer either as an instrumentality, target or a means for perpetuating further crimes comes within the ambit of cyber crime”. A generalized definition of cyber crime may be “ unlawful acts wherein the computer is either a tool or target or both” The computer may be used as a tool in the following kinds of activity- financial crimes, sale of illegal articles, pornography, online gambling, intellectual property crime, e-mail spoofing, forgery, cyber defamation, cyber stalking. The computer may however be target for unlawful acts in the following cases- unauthorized access to computer/ computer system/ computer networks, theft of information contained in the electronic form, e-mail bombing, data didling, salami attacks, logic bombs, Trojan attacks, internet time thefts, web jacking, theft of computer system, physically damaging the computer system. In this project I am going to discuss CYBER DEFAMATION in detail.

What is defamation?
Defamation can be understood as the intentional infringement of another person's right to his good name. It is the wrongful and intentional publication of words or behaviour concerning another person, which has the effect of injuring that person's status, good name, or reputation in society. Libel is written defamation and slander is oral defamation. The primary difference is that in libel, damages are presumed, whereas in slander actions, unless the slander falls into a certain category, called slander per se, the plaintiff must prove actual or quantifiable damages. A person's good name can only be damaged if maligning statements are made to someone other than that person; that is, the defamatory statement must be disclosed to a third person, thereby satisfying the requirement of publication. When determining whether or not defamation has taken place, the only issue to consider is whether a person of ordinary intelligence in society would believe that the words would indeed injure the person's reputation. Thus the law of defamation places a heavy burden on the defendant. All that a plaintiff has to prove, in a defamation action, is the publication of defamatory matter. The onus then lies on the defendant to prove innocence. Once again, most people are unaware of this burden. In essence, the law on defamation attempts to create a workable balance between two equally important human rights: The right to an unimpaired reputation and the right to freedom of expression. In a cyber society, both these interests are increasingly important. Protection of reputation is arguably even more important in a highly technological society, since one may not even encounter an individual or organization other than through the medium of the internet.

Ingredients of defamation
Defamation is an intrinsically personal wrong. The gist of defamation is actual or presumed damage to reputation flowing from publication. In other words, defamation flows from publication (or communication) of information. In traditional libel cases “publication” is generally referred to as “the date on which the libelous work was placed on sale or became generally available to the public”. It has following...
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