Employment & Service

What is the legal punishment if an employee steals confidential company data?

I am a small business owner. One of our employees recently left our company. But we found out that he had been forwarding internal mails from his official email id to his personal mail. Those mails also include some confidential information. And all this was done without our knowledge. What is the legal action that I can take on the employee since he has stolen our information?

Expert Advice

‘Data theft’ is considered when there are cases similar to either of the following:

·         Unauthorized access of a computer system,

·         Unauthorized download or copying of material

·         Hacking into unauthorized computer system

·         Accessing data stored in a protected system and misusing it.

·         Breach of confidentiality and privacy of data by a person


The Indian law provides for data theft punishments under various sections of the Information Technology Act, 2000 (IT Act), Indian Penal Code, 1860 (IPC) and the Copyright Act, 1957.

For example:

·       Under Section 43 of the Information Technology Act, a person can be penalised for damage to a computer, computer system, etc. If proved guilty, the culprit can be liable to pay damages by way of compensation not exceeding one crore rupees to the person so affected.

·       Under Section 405 to 409 of the IPC, a person can be penalised for “Criminal Breach of Trust” with a maximum imprisonment of 7 years.

·       If a case of data theft arises through hacking or cybercrime, then you can file a criminal or civil complaint in a police station or cyber-cell in the city.


You can read more in our guide about data theft.

If you need any legal assistance in this matter, request call back from a legal expert

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