In a rare case the cyber criminals have targeted wildlife of India. None of us could have imagined the applicability of the wildlife law and cyber law of India together. But this has happened in India as cyber criminals tried to crack the Iridium GPS Satellite Collar of a tiger.
What is more interesting is that the attempt to crack the collar was committed from Pune whereas the tiger with collar was located at a great distance at the tiger reserves of Madhya Pradesh.
The modus operandi of the cyber criminals was very simple. According to TOI, they broke into login-ID of the email account in which the location data of the collar-fitted tiger Panna-211 is sent via iridium satellite transceiver. Only three people have legal access to the location data of the tiger’s collar – Dr K Ramesh, scientist with Wildlife Institute of India (WII) Dehradun, Dr R Srinivas Murty, field director of Panna Tiger Reserve (PTR) and Shekar, a senior research fellow at the reserve.
The episode has also confused the officers regarding the jurisdictional issues. The crucial question is should the FIR be lodged in Maharashtra where hacking attempt was made or in MP where the tiger lives? Who will lodge the complaint – Wildlife Institute of India (WII) which fitted the radio collar or authorities of PTR or WII-Dehradun that secures password for accessing data on tiger’s location?
Also, there is confusion on whether a case should be registered under Section 66 (hacking for criminal purpose) of Information Technology (IT) Act or Section 9 of the Wildlife Protection Act 1972 for a poaching attempt.
Principal chief conservator of forest (PCCF) and chief wildlife warden (CCF) Narendra Kumar said, “The complaint will be lodged by WII as the tiger was hooked onto the collar by them”.
But, Dr K Ramesh, scientist WII Dehradun, said the collar was handed over to MP forest officials and they will lodge the case. “WII was not consulted when the Panna-211 was shifted to Satpura. There should have been a proper monitoring system in place. Still we will try to investigate hacking bid,” he said.
R P Singh, director of Satpura-Bori National Park, had a different version. “I thing its password was with PTR officials, so they should register the case,” he said.
The collar on Panna-211 – the code name for the tiger which was relocated recently from Panna reserve to Satpura – has stopped working from July 24. Senior officials have been directed to keep track of the tiger’s movements for the next six months.