How Nepal can tackle the menace of cyberbullying

India is far advanced in controlling cybercrime. Nepal may take cues from India's legal and awareness-building initiatives to tackle cyberbullying.

Dibya Das Tharu

  • Read Time 5 min.

Cyberbullying is a growing concern in India and Nepal, as more people spend time online and social media platforms become an integral part of our lives. The issue has caught the attention of lawmakers and law enforcement agencies, who are working to develop policies and legislation to address the problem. Cyberbullying has become a widespread problem in India and Nepal, and it is imperative that law students and legal practitioners are aware of the legal implications surrounding this issue. This article explores the legal implications of cyberbullying in both countries and examines the challenges and opportunities for protecting victims and prosecuting offenders.

Cyberbullying refers to the use of electronic communication to intimidate, harass, or harm someone. It can take many forms, such as posting derogatory comments, sharing embarrassing photos or videos, spreading false rumors, or sending threatening messages. Cyberbullying is a serious form of harassment that takes place online or through digital devices. Cyberbullying can take many forms, including text messages, social media posts, email, online forums, and messaging apps.

One of the most common forms of cyberbullying is through social media platforms. A cyberbully may create fake social media accounts or use their own accounts to spread rumors, make derogatory comments or post hurtful memes, photos or videos about their target. They may also post personal information about the victim, such as their address or phone number, or create fake profiles to impersonate the victim. Another common form of cyberbullying is through text messages.

A cyberbully may send insulting, threatening or harassing messages to their target, or spread rumors and lies through texting. They may also use group messaging to involve other people in their attacks on the victim. Email is also a common tool for cyberbullying. A cyberbully may send hurtful messages, threats or insults through email, or may use email to impersonate the victim and send harmful messages to their friends, family, or colleagues.

Online forums and messaging apps are other platforms where cyberbullying can occur. A cyberbully may use anonymous messaging apps to harass or threaten their target, or use online forums to post defamatory or hurtful comments about the victim. The scope of cyberbullying is broad, affecting people of all ages, genders, and backgrounds. According to a study by the Cyberbullying Research Center, approximately 34 percent of students have experienced cyberbullying in their lifetime.The effects of cyberbullying can be devastating, leading to depression, anxiety, social isolation, and even suicide.

Here are some examples of cyberbullying in different contexts. Suppose a student creates a fake social media account to impersonate a classmate and post derogatory comments about them. Or an ex-partner posts intimate photos of their former partner on social media without their consent. Or a group of students repeatedly send insulting and threatening text messages to a classmate. Or an anonymous user posts defamatory and hurtful comments about a person on an online forum.

Legal provisions in India and Nepal 

India has a comprehensive legal framework to address cyberbullying and other cybercrimes. The Information Technology Act, 2000 (IT Act) and the Indian Penal Code (IPC) provide provisions for various offenses related to cyberbullying, such as cyber stalking, online harassment, and publishing sexually explicit material. The IT Act also establishes the Cyber Appellate Tribunal and the Cyber Crime Investigation Cell to investigate and prosecute cybercrimes.

In Nepal, the legal framework for cybercrime is still developing. The Electronic Transactions Act, 2063 (ETA) and the Criminal Procedure Code (2017)  provide some provisions for cybercrime, but they are not specific to cyberbullying. The government of Nepal has acknowledged the need for more comprehensive legislation to address the issue and protect victims.

The Ministry of Communications and Information Technology has drafted a Cyber Security Bill, which is currently under review by the parliament. It is worth noting that while both India and Nepal have legal frameworks to address cybercrime, the enforcement of these laws remains a challenge. Cybercriminals can use advanced techniques to hide their identity, and law enforcement agencies may not have the technical expertise to investigate such crimes. In addition, victims of cybercrime may be reluctant to report the incident due to fear of retaliation or stigma.

Challenges and opportunities

One of the biggest challenges in addressing cyberbullying is the difficulty in identifying and prosecuting offenders. Cyberbullies can hide behind anonymous profiles, fake identities, or proxy servers, making it hard to track them down. In addition, victims may be reluctant to report the abuse or seek help due to fear of retaliation or embarrassment.The lack of awareness among the public and law enforcement agencies about the severity and scope of cyberbullying is another challenge. It is often considered a lesser form of bullying or not taken seriously, leading to a lack of reporting and underestimation of the problem. Moreover, social media platforms and online communities have to balance free speech and protection of users, leading to inconsistent policies and lack of standardization across platforms.

One of the biggest challenges in addressing cyberbullying is the difficulty in identifying and prosecuting offenders. Cyberbullies can hide behind anonymous profiles, fake identities, or proxy servers, making it hard to track them down. 

Despite these challenges, there are opportunities for combating cyberbullying. For example, social media platforms and online communities can implement stricter policies and algorithms to detect and remove abusive content. Online communities can also create support groups and resources for victims and promote positive behavior and digital citizenship. Education and awareness programs can be initiated for students, teachers, and parents to recognize, report, and prevent cyberbullying. Cyber cells and specialized cybercrime investigation units can be established to investigate and prosecute cyberbullying cases. In the context of Nepal, cyber army can be formed in order to hear the cases and take immediate actions to solve them.

Ways to tackle 

Cyberbullying has become a pressing issue in Nepal, with the increasing use of digital devices and social media platforms. In order to solve this rising problem, several steps need to be taken. Firstly, there needs to be greater awareness about the effects of cyberbullying. This can be done through public campaigns, school programs, and media outreach. People need to understand the serious consequences of cyberbullying on mental health and wellbeing, and the importance of being responsible online. 

Secondly, there needs to be stricter laws and regulations in place to tackle cyberbullying. The government needs to work closely with social media platforms to monitor and take down any offensive content or cyberbullying activities. Additionally, those found guilty of cyberbullying should face appropriate legal consequences.

Thirdly, schools and educational institutions should play an active role in addressing cyberbullying. This can be done through the inclusion of cyber safety education in the curriculum, and by encouraging students to speak out against cyberbullying. Finally, parents and guardians need to be more vigilant and involved in their children’s online activities. They should monitor their children’s social media use and teach them responsible behavior online. Parents should also have open communication with their children about cyberbullying and provide support if their child is a victim. Overall, solving the rising issue of cyberbullying in Nepal requires a collaborative effort from the government, schools, parents, and individuals. By working together, we can create a safer and more responsible online community for everyone.

In conclusion, the rise of cybercrime in India and Nepal is a serious concern that requires a multi-faceted approach from the government, law enforcement agencies, and civil society. With a strong legal framework, effective law enforcement, and awareness among the public, it is possible to reduce the incidence of cybercrime and create a safe and secure digital environment for all. Cyberbullying is a complex issue that requires a multifaceted approach from lawmakers, law enforcement agencies, and civil society.

Legal practitioners must be vigilant in understanding the legal framework surrounding cyberbullying and work diligently to ensure that victims receive justice. By creating a safe and inclusive digital space, we can promote responsible behavior online and protect individuals from the harmful effects of cyberbullying. It is important to recognize the signs of cyberbullying and take action to stop it. Victims of cyberbullying should report the incident to authorities or seek help from a trusted adult or counselor. By raising awareness about cyberbullying and working together to prevent it, we can create a safer and more inclusive online environment for everyone and we can work towards a safer and more inclusive digital space for everyone.

Nepal should be more conscious in controlling cybercrime. India is far advanced in controlling cybercrime. Nepal may take cues from India in controlling cybercrime. Nepal can learn from India’s legal and awareness-building initiatives to tackle cyberbullying. By developing its own legal framework and launching public campaigns, Nepal can create a safer and more responsible online community for its citizens.

Dibya Das Tharu is studying BALLB from Chakrabarti Habi Education Academy College of Law, Kathmandu.