Case study cyber law - Nasscom vs. Ajay Sood & Others
In a landmark judgment in the case of National Association of Software and Service Companies vs Ajay Sood & Others, delivered in March, ‘05, the Delhi High Court declared `phishing’ on the internet to be an illegal act, entailing an injunction and recovery of damages.
Elaborating on the concept of ‘phishing’, in order to lay down a precedent in India, the court stated that it is a form of internet fraud where a person pretends to be a legitimate association, such as a bank or an insurance company in order to extract personal data from a customer such as access codes, passwords, etc. Personal data so collected by misrepresenting the identity of the legitimate party is commonly used for the collecting party’s advantage. court also stated, by way of an example, that typical phishing scams involve persons who pretend to represent online banks and siphon cash from e-banking accounts after conning consumers into handing over confidential banking details.
The Delhi HC stated that even though there is no specific legislation in India to penalise phishing, it held phishing to be an illegal act by defining it under Indian law as “a misrepresentation made in the course of trade leading to confusion as to the source and origin of the e-mail causing immense harm not only to the consumer but even to the person whose name, identity or password is misused.” The court held the act of phishing as passing off and tarnishing the plaintiff’s image.
The plaintiff in this case was the National Association of Software and Service Companies (Nasscom), India’s premier software association. The defendants were operating a placement agency involved in head-hunting and recruitment. In order to obtain personal data, which they could use for purposes of headhunting, the defendants composed and sent e-mails to third parties in the name of Nasscom.
The high court recognised the trademark rights of...