Combatting Cyber Bullying: Nepal's Legal Framework and Effective Measures
Cyberbullying is a form of bullying that occurs online using digital technologies, such as social media, messaging apps, gaming platforms, or websites. It can involve sending or posting harmful or offensive messages, images, videos, or comments to or about someone, impersonating someone online, spreading rumors or false information, or excluding someone from online groups or activities. Cyber bullying can have serious consequences for the mental health and well-being of children and adolescents, such as depression, anxiety, low self-esteem, isolation, self-harm, or suicidal thoughts.
According to a study by the Nepal Telecommunications Authority, 26% of students in Kathmandu reported experiencing cyber bullying. According to a survey by UNICEF, 51% of Nepalese school adolescents were bullied online, and they were more likely to report loneliness, anxiety, suicide attempts, school absenteeism, and involvement in physical fights. These statistics show that cyber bullying is a prevalent and pressing problem that needs to be addressed urgently.
This article aims to provide readers with a comprehensive understanding of the existing laws and policies that address cyber bullying in Nepal, their effectiveness, and the importance of taking proactive steps to combat this growing problem in the digital age.
Cyber Law and Policies in Nepal
Nepal has a legal framework that regulates cyber crime and cyber bullying, but it has some limitations and challenges in terms of comprehensiveness, clarity, and enforcement. The main legal framework consists of the following:
The Electronic Transactions Act 2063 (2008), which deals with issues related to digital signature, intellectual property, and cyber crime. Section 47 of the act is the most used section to prevent cyber bullying in Nepal . It states that anyone who publishes or displays any material in the electronic media that may be contrary to public morality or decent behavior or may spread hate or jealousy against anyone or may jeopardize the harmonious relations among people shall be liable to punishment with imprisonment for a term not exceeding five years or a fine not exceeding one hundred thousand rupees or both.
The Cyber Security Bylaw 2077 (2020), which is a mandatory cybersecurity regulation for Telcos and ISPs to implement security standards and best practices. It aims to protect the information systems and networks from unauthorized access, use, modification, disruption, or destruction. It also requires Telcos and ISPs to report any cyber incidents or threats to the National Information Technology Center (NITC) within 24 hours.
The Privacy Act 2075 (2018), which protects the personal information and data of individuals from unauthorized access, use, or disclosure. It defines personal information as any information related to the identity of an individual that can be used to identify him/her directly or indirectly. It also grants individuals the right to access, correct, delete, or restrict the processing of their personal data by any person or organization.
The National Security Policy 2016, which recognizes cyber security as one of the key components of national security. It states that the government shall formulate and implement necessary policies and strategies to ensure cyber security and prevent cyber attacks that may affect the national interest. It also states that the government shall establish a national cyber security agency to coordinate and monitor the cyber security activities of various sectors.
The legal framework provides for punishment of cyber-related criminal activities, such as imprisonment or fines. It also establishes separate judicial bodies, such as the IT Tribunal and Appellate Tribunal, to handle cases related to computer and cyber crime. It also empowers the government to monitor and control online activities that may pose a threat to national security or public order.
However, the legal framework is not comprehensive enough to cover all aspects of cyber bullying, such as psychological harm, emotional distress, or reputational damage. It also lacks clear definitions and guidelines on what constitutes cyber bullying, how to report it, and how to resolve it. It also faces challenges in terms of enforcement, awareness, coordination, and capacity building among relevant stakeholders.
For instance, many victims of cyber bullying may not be aware of their rights or how to seek legal help. Many cases of cyber bullying may go unreported due to fear of retaliation or stigma. Many law enforcement agencies may not have adequate resources or expertise to investigate and prosecute cyber crimes. Many judges and lawyers may not have sufficient knowledge or experience in dealing with cyber law issues. Many Telcos and ISPs may not have effective mechanisms or policies to prevent or respond to cyber bullying on their platforms.
Therefore, there is a need for more comprehensive and effective legal measures to address cyber bullying in Nepal.
Effective Measures to Prevent Cyber Bullying
In addition to improving the legal framework, there are also some practical tips and suggestions on how to prevent cyber bullying from occurring or escalating. These include:
Educate oneself and others about what cyber bullying is and how to recognize it. Research what constitutes cyber bullying, how and where it occurs, and talk with friends about what they are seeing and experiencing. Learn about the legal rights and responsibilities of online users, and the consequences of cyber bullying for both the bully and the victim.
Develop healthy interpersonal skills, such as self-confidence, social awareness, and emotional intelligence, that can reduce the chances of becoming a bully or a victim. Learn how to communicate respectfully online, avoid engaging in negative or hurtful comments or posts, and empathize with others who may be different or vulnerable. Respect the privacy and dignity of others online, and do not share or forward any information or content that may harm or embarrass them.
Create a safe and supportive environment where cyber bullying can be reported and addressed. Teachers, parents, and students should work together to establish clear rules and expectations for online behavior, monitor online activities regularly, encourage open dialogue and feedback, and provide help and resources for those who are affected by cyber bullying. Schools should implement anti-bullying policies and programs that include cyber bullying prevention and intervention strategies. Parents should supervise their children's online usage and educate them about online safety and etiquette. Students should report any incidents of cyber bullying to their teachers, parents, or trusted adults, and seek peer support from their friends or online communities.
Protect one's online accounts and devices with passwords and not share them with anyone. Use privacy settings and features to limit who can see or contact one online. Block or unfriend anyone who is harassing or abusive online. Do not post or share any personal information or photos that may be used to manipulate or humiliate one online. Be careful about what one downloads or clicks on online, as it may contain viruses or malware that can compromise one's security or privacy.
Document any incidents of cyber bullying that occur online. Take screenshots of harmful posts or content if possible. Report any cases of cyber bullying to the relevant authorities or platforms. Seek legal or professional help if needed. Do not delete any evidence until the issue is resolved.
Cyber bullying is a form of bullying that occurs online using digital technologies. It can have serious consequences for the mental health and well-being of children and adolescents. Nepal has a legal framework that regulates cyber crime and cyber bullying, but it has some limitations and challenges in terms of comprehensiveness, clarity, and enforcement. Therefore, there is a need for more comprehensive and effective legal measures to address cyber bullying in Nepal. In addition to improving the legal framework, there are also some practical tips and suggestions on how to prevent cyber bullying from occurring or escalating. By educating oneself and others, developing healthy interpersonal skills, creating a safe and supportive environment, protecting one's online accounts and devices, and documenting any incidents of cyber bullying, one can help combat this growing problem in the digital age.
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