The West Bengal cyber adjudicator has directed a man to pay a compensation of Rs 50,000 for snooping into his estranged wife’s mobile calls and messages, delivering the first such order in west Bengal. The state IT secretary, in his ex-officio position as the cyber adjudicator in West Bengal, has ordered the man to pay a compensation for illegally spying on his estranged wife’s mobile phone.
The man was found guilty under sections 43(a), (b), 66(C) and 72 of the Information Technology Act, 2000 (as amended till date) for breaching online privacy. Under provisions of the Act, an adjudicator can order a maximum compensation of Rs 5 crore, the woman’s counsel Bivas Chatterjee said on Friday.
In the order, which was handed over Thursday, the man was directed to pay the compensation to the woman within 30 days and the Commissioner of Howrah Police Commissionerate would furnish compliance of the order within 15 days from payment. The woman, in her complaint had claimed that her estranged husband had filed a matrimonial suit before the Howrah civil court seeking divorce in June 2014.
They had got married in May 2013, but the relationship turned sour within a few months over the man’s alleged suspicions on his wife. She stated in her complaint that she had shared her Facebook account and email account passwords with her husband when their relation was good and claimed that on one occasion the husband had taken her mobile phone and installed a malware, without her knowledge, through which he could access all calls and messages from and to her phone.
The woman’s counsel stated in the matrimonial suit, the man had himself admitted to have installed a software to backup all calls and SMS to a website and opened the website to see or download the incoming or outgoing calls and messages from the mobile phone. The man denied all allegations during the hearings before the adjudicator, claiming the complaint was false and motivated.
The adjudicator, in his order, noted that the man had himself admitted to have installed a software on the phone belonging to the complainant and accessed details of incoming and outgoing calls and messages from her mobile phone without her knowledge.
“The argument and the documentary evidence presented by the respondent in support of his ownership of SIM Card number…. does not take away the fact that the complainant was the owner of the mobile phone and its content, which was accessed and extracted by the respondent without her knowledge or consent,” the adjudicating officer observed in his order.
The officer also noted “the complainant was negligent and careless in sharing such resources with the respondent for his use and access without thinking of her data protection and privacy concerns at that time.”