Crime Branch Advisory
The Nigerian Scam
Orkut: The new danger
14 February 2007
Orkut, the online portal,
owned by Google finds itself at the centre of debate. A nineteen-year-old
student has been accused of making a fake account of a girl. Can
we prevent the misuse of this technology by not posting our numbers
ABHISHEK NEVER IMAGINED that the prank he played on his classmate would land him in jail.
Abhishek, a management student and still in his teens, was arrested
by the Thane police following a girl’s complaint about tarnishing
her image in the public forum - Orkut. The report after being published
in Mumbai Mirror has created a stir among the Orkutians and opened
up a whole new box of debate.
Abhishek had created a fake account
in the name of the girl with her mobile number posted on the profile.
The profile has been sketched in such a way that it draws lewd comments
from many who visit her profile. The Thane Cyber Cell tracked down
Abhishek from the false e-mail id that he made to open up the account.
In this case, the girl has not posted
her picture or mobile number in the fake profile. A brief search
in the Orkut profile will reveal many such profiles with pictures
of beautiful girls. My guess is that many of these girls are not
even aware of the fact that their profile exists. These are created
by some other people. I will term this as “rape of the image”.
Now the question is “Can we really prevent this rape?”
The Mumbai Mirror’s report
on the issue came with tips to the Orkut users. Police Sub-Inspector
Ravindra Chauhan has been quoted as saying, “Orkut users should
not put up their photographs on the site. They should not reveal
personal information in their profile. Also no cellphone numbers
or identity should be mentioned in the scrap book, as it is open
to all.” But whether this really can be a way out, is debatable.
“What about the hundreds of CVs I send to the unknown agencies
everyday? They even contain my mobile number”, says Aditi,
a DU student and a hardcore Orkut addict. She does have a point.
The truth is that in today’s
world mobile numbers are far from being personal information. The
proof lies in the numerous sales calls that we receive from credit
card agents. On the issue of the photograph, Aditi says, “When
Orkut gives an opportunity to show your face to the whole world,
then why not?” When asked about the risks involved, she replied,
“Who cares?” But everyone is not as carefree as Aditi.
A brief search in Orkut once more will reveal profiles that have
pictures of film stars, flowers, animals, sceneries and not the
face of the owner. “I will never put my picture on Orkut profile,”
says Mansi, whose profile in Orkut carries the picture of Aishwarya
Rai. “It’s not safe, anybody and everybody can save
it on their computer and can misuse it.” But here again the
question lies - can we really prevent it? What happens to the hundreds
of passport photographs we send with the application forms all our
life? Any of them can be scanned and put up without our notice.
Are we sure that all copies of the digital pictures taken at our
local photography shop are deleted after we leave? “I don’t
know, but there is no harm in being careful,” says Mansi.
So perhaps even in this age of globalisation
and technical advancements we will hold ourselves from showing our
face to the entire world for we never know who is misusing it in
what way. And as the lawmakers say “We cannot do anything,
until a complaint is lodged”.