India at No.4 among Top Countries with Internet Users

India is at No. 4 among the Top20 countries with the highest number of Internet users in the world. World Internet User Statisticsupdated till 31st March 2009 puts India at an enviable fourth position behind China (1st), USA (2nd) and Japan (3rd). With an Internet population of almost 81 Million users and the exponential growth of broadband facilities in the country combined with the affordable tariff rates makes it look like India may well reach the TOP2 very soon. In Asia alone, India is at No. 3 just behind China andJapan. Although India with 81 Million users is just a little behind Japan (94 Million), the gap between China and the rest of the Asian countries is quite massive with the Chinese Internet population alone standing at a staggering 298 Million. China is currently the world’s top country for highest Internet users with US trailing behind with 227.2 Million users.

 

Although Internet user statistics look quite promising for the Indian cyberspace, the dampner comes in the form of statistics for Internet penetration in the country which looks quite abysmal at a lowly 7.1% compared to China (22.4%) andJapan (73.8%). However these Internet penetration statistics are not that surprising considering India’s population (1,147,995,898) is only behind that of China (1,330,044,605). But with the major attempts by Internet Service Providers in India to provide competitive tariffs, India’s Internet may well reach further than it ever has in the next few years.  There is a definite requirement to stress on ensuring a competitive and comprehensive digital infrastructure.

Statistics available from www.internetworldstats.com

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International Intellectual Property Laws Program

Global School of Tech Juris launches the International Intellectual Property Laws Program which is one of the first such attempts to provide undergraduate and postgraduate students with the opportunity to compare and study as many as four IP law regimes including India, UK, US and the European Union. Scheduled to begin in 2009, the Classroom Program is expected to give students a valuable foothold in the complex and fascinating world of intellectual creativity and its legal protection.

For more information, visit http://gstj.org/international-intellectual-property-laws.php .

Google – ‘Bing’ed?

Google.

This word today arguably epitomizes much of a cyber surfer’s virtual life. Perceived by millions as a useful tool to track valuable information on the web, Google’s meteoric rise has catapulted this Search Engine into cyber’s ultimate Hall of Fame. If there is ever going to be one word that perhaps can be considered as a synonym for the virtual world, its got to be our very familiar Google. Conceived as a mere tool to help users reach required data, Google today represents the very existence of the cyberspace. The company’s unprecedented growth in popularity, revenue and sheer cyber familiarity is a story of one of the most spectacular creations of the modern day. That Google has dwarfed all competition is known, but what is fascinating is the transformation of a noun like “Google” into a verb that is now a synonym for search on the world wide web. Whether you like it, love it, hate it, despise it, one thing you certainly can not do and that is “ignore it”. Google is perhaps the ultimate product of a marketing team’s best moment. Google’s dominance is so spellbinding that many users would even find it difficult to come up with an alternative if Google stopped being a search engine. There are many exhilarating writings online on what Google does right but that is not the focus of this blog. I am here to just appreciate and acknowledge the sheer presence of Google in the lives of millions. What prompted me to sit up and write a post on Google? Well, it was the news of the launch or should I say relaunch with a  new brand and marketing strategy (as some are preferring to call it) of Microsoft’s wonderful “Bing”. Will Bing be a worthy adversary to the might of Google? Live Search may have lacked the click or should I say the “bing” but the new avatar of Microsoft’s brainchild seems to have given encouraging signals to the cyber world. For someone like me who is an ardent fan of Google, I certainly would like to see how Bing fares in the race ahead.

“BING” IT ON….

Phishing and Hacking target Facebook

Social networking sites have played a significant role in the lives of many everyday Internet users by providing an enjoyable and interactive platform to keep in touch with friends, colleagues, family or share images and videos. And as every good thing on the Internet that gains any popularity it often also ends up getting the attention of the wrong kind.

For the avid fans of social networking sites like Facebook, there is bad news. 

News reports reveal that hackers have found some vulnerability in the message service and are targetting innocent Facebook subscribers with unsolicited messages. The phishing attacks are engineered carefully as unsuspecting users get strange messages from their own Facebook contacts.  The messages are mostly requesting innocent users to simply go to specific websites and unfortunately quite a number of the recipients have indeed ventured into typing these URLs in their web browsers. Some of these sites are designed to look like Facebook requesting login information and as soon as the user types in the confidential data, the information is captured by the phishing sites. Some other sites are simply downloading malware into the computers of surfers aiming to capture private and confidential data like passwords, credit card details etc. Most of these suspicious inbox messages are requesting users to go to strange URLs some ending with .be . A commonality of all these unauthorised messages is that they are being sent as bulk messages to many contacts of a target profile.

 

How to avoid these attacks? Well if you are a Facebook user, there is no way you can avoid getting these messages although you definitely have the choice of not falling for them. So if you receive a message from a known Contact requesting you to go to a particular website or URL without specifically explaining the reason, just be careful. A simple way to avoid falling for this bait is to message the Contact from whom you have allegedly received the message  and query as to whether and why the URL was sent in the first place. I am sure if your Contacts want to share a particular URL, they will most definitely tell you the reason in the message itself. So Facebook users, tread with caution!

GSTJ Page on Facebook

Global School of Tech Juris now has an exclusive fan page on Facebook.com and is available at

http://www.facebook.com/pages/Global-School-of-Tech-Juris/177907405021

Cybersquatters increase in India

Yes you read the title right. Cybersquatters have probably increased in India if the statistics of World Intellectual Property Organization are only to go by.

 

Cybersquatting or domain name registrations with malicious intent has been a problem of the cyberspace for quite a long time now. The WIPO Arbitration Panels have been dealing with thousands of international domain name disputes with involved parties being from varied legal jurisdictions. Cybersquatting has also been a concern for Indian businesses as several “bad faith” registrations have occurred over the last eight or nine years but the Indian courts have in most occasions thwarted the illicit intentions of the registrant. Even the Hon’ble Supreme Court of India has delivered its first and only cyber law judgement in 2004 in the landmark domain name dispute case of  Satyam Infoway Ltd. v. Siffynet Solutions Pvt. Ltd.wherein it was held that domain names should be accorded similar protection as those available to trademarks under the Indian trademark laws. There have been plenty of such cybersquatting cases across India and some of the most notable ones include Yahoo Inc. v. Akash Arora & Anr. in 1999, Rediff Communication Ltd. v. Cyberbooth & Anr. (famous as the Rediff Radiff dispute) in 2000, Dr. Reddy’s Laboratories Ltd. v. Manu Kosuri in 2001, Info Edge (India) Pvt. Ltd. & Anr. v. Shailesh Gupta & Anr. (famous as the Naukri.com & Naukari.com dispute) in 2002 among many others. The effective response of the Indian courts against cybersquatters has prompted trademark owners to report malicious registrations and accordingly redress their grievances quickly in the courts. Where Indian complainants have failed to find an Indian court of competent jurisdiction they have effectively approached the WIPO to beat domain abusers to a meek surrender. It may not be known by many but India’s first case on cybersquatting to be decided by a WIPO Panel was the complaint brought by Bennett Coleman & Co. Ltd. (publisher of the popular news publications “The Economic Times” and “The Times of India”) against Steven S. Lalwani to challenge the latter’s “bad faith” registration of domain names including “theeconomictimes.com” and “thetimesofindia.com” to take online advantage of the reputation and goodwill of both the renowned publications. Ultimately Bennett Coleman & Co. Ltd. won and the infringing domain names were transferred to them. Since then WIPO has received several complaints from Indian trademark owners who have chosen to fight domain name abusers and infringers by approaching the Panel to effect the appropriate domain transfers.

 

WIPO statistics reveal that it had received as many as 45 complaints from India in 2000 regarding “bad faith” domain registrations made by potential cybersquatters. Over the last 9 years the number of complaints have definitely reduced to as little as 17* in 2008 and the overall total complaints received at WIPO from Indian complainants since 2000 stands at 148*. But an alarming reverse trend has been the number of cybersquatting complaints made against registrants from India. The number of complaints against Indian registrants has steadily increased since 2000 and in 2008 as many as 64* complaints (highest since 2000) were registered against Indian entities for having allegedly made “bad faith” registrations. The total number of complaints received at WIPO against Indian registrants since 2000 stands at a surprising 237*. This reverse trend coming out in cybersquatting as far as Indian registrants are concerned (if WIPO statistics are only to go by) has triggered a possible opinion that the number of the so-called “cybersquatters” are perhaps emerging more within the country. And very recently Google (one of the most popular Internet companies in the world) complained to the WIPO against two Indian entities for malicious “bad faith” domain registrations. WIPO found bad faith and deceptive usage on the part of both the Indian entities to confuse Internet users and accordingly transferred the domain names “googlehrd.com” and “mygooglemoney.com” used by Kolkata-based Ascio Technologies Inc and Net Jobs of Rajasthan to Google.

 

However despite the evidence provided above, the overall opinion that “cybersquatters are increasing in India” could be a little over simplistic just because of the fact that the statistics incorporated are the ones only reported in WIPO, however the examination and analysis of also the cases registered in Indian courts on domain disputes in the recent years would probably give us a more balanced view of whether the “cybersquatters” have increased in India or whether the cybersquatting incidents targeting Indian trademark owners have also accordingly increased by a large proportion thus rendering the opinion a little too biased and imbalanced. Another factor that needs to be incorporated and evaluated in the present context is that there is also a large increase in the number of domain name registrations being made by Indian registrants. With Internet usage (including broadband availability) increasing dramatically over the last few years and more businesses choosing to adopt an online presence, it will be easier to state that the statistics seem to be swaying one way because of the definite increase of registrations in India.

 

Irrespective of whatever the final report is in this debate about the numbers related to “Cybersquatters v. Victim Trademark Owners” in India, the obvious point is that cybersquatting (domain name disputes) are here to stay and intellectual property owners in India need to be even more vigilant to ensure that their valuable and expensive IP is not being easily infringed upon and maliciously exploited in the virtual world. To make matters worse, cyber abusers of IP are not just limiting themselves to domain registrations but are also trying to misuse online platforms like “keyword linked advertising” to direct unsuspecting traffic towards their deceptively similar online destinations.

 

– Misum Hossain,  Global School of Tech Juris

Email Virus ratio highest in India

Email viruses are increasing alarmingly in India. According to Messagelabs Intelligence Reports, global ratio of email-borne viruses in email traffic seem to be getting less intense as compared to the statistics available since 2005.  The February 2009 global ratio indicates that 1 in 304.9 emails (0.33%) are spam mails which is roughly a decrease of 0.06% since January 2009 and if compared to the 2005 stats the situation seems much better as the global ratio then was at an alarming rate of 1 in 12.9 emails being spam mails. However the news is not all that good for Indian cyber users considering the results of the virus rate charts for worst affected geographical locations published by Messagelabs Report for February 2009. Virus activity in India reportedly has arisen by 0.16% amounting to 1 in 197.4 emails thus catapulting India to the No. 1 position for most virus activity in the world for the month of February 2009. The Report puts Germany, United Kingdom, Canada and Hong Kong behind India as the Top 5 Geographies for virus rates globally.

 

This is concerning news for online users in India where the country’s Internet population is growing at a rapid rate with broadband Internet reaching large populations and Internet Service Providers coming out with more economic and affordable tariffs. World statistics on Internet usage (Internetworldstats) for 2008 suggest that India is No. 4 among the Top 20 Countries for highest number of Internet users. China, USA and Japan occupy the first three positions respectively in the table.

 

With spammers and virus originators targeting the Indian cyberspace more than ever before it needs to be seen how the recent changes in the cyber laws of the country help fight this growing menace. The Information Technology Act amendments, although has supporters and detractors on equal measure, is yet to be notified and only time will tell whether the current Indian cyber laws help deter this alarming influx of spam and viruses into the country.

 

There is  no question however that Internet population in the country is only going to grow larger and hence awareness about cyber security, privacy and laws for Internet users need to be highly prioritised. With knowledge about cyber crime prevention and data protection made more readily available, cyber users in the country will probably get more equipped to counter modern abuses like phishing, spam, advance fee frauds, malware attacks and other cyber scams operating extensively on the web.