This article on “Laws against Cyberbullying in India: All you need to know” was written by Shudhi Malhotra, an intern at Legal Upanishad.
Before we go into detail about the phenomenon and the accompanying anti-bullying regulations. It’s crucial to understand what cyberbullying is and how it occurs. To regularly harass or bully another person, one or more people or groups engage in cyberbullying. People who are bullied online frequently can’t defend themselves. This includes publishing someone’s private information or images online, sending lewd or lewd messages, stalking, hacking into someone’s account, and numerous other forms of Cyber Bullying.
Numerous platforms, such as social media (such as Instagram, Facebook, etc.), text messages, emails, and other forms of instant messaging, can be used for cyberbullying (WhatsApp, messenger, etc.). This article evaluates the legal framework regulating cyberbullying in India.
What is Cyber Bullying?
Cyberbullying is just bullying someone on social media sites like Facebook, Whatsapp, Instagram, and Twitter. However, bullying is only referred to when damaging information about a person is spread, which can seriously damage their reputation. Because it allows for the harassment of anyone in public at any time using devices, cyberbullying is extremely dangerous. Students are disproportionately the targets of this type of harassment.
The term “cyberbullying” was first used by a teacher from Canada, Bill Belsey. The primary goal of cyberbullying is to cause mental harm to a victim. Another method of cyberbullying is setting up a website and publishing horrifying images of a victim that could damage their reputation. Cyberbullying can also come from threatening someone on social media or in a gaming application.
Here are a few instances of Cyber Bullying:
- Harassment- Online harassment refers to transmitting offensive or disagreeable communications to a person or group, just like offline harassment. Bullies have to put up a lot of effort to harass their victims. It is also deliberate, ongoing, and repetitive. Bullying frequently has little effect on the victim. These statements have lasting adverse consequences on a victim’s self-confidence or self-esteem.
- Cyberstalking- Harassment includes cyberstalking. These statements are frequently not only nasty or disrespectful but also dangerous. The situation could get worse and put the victim’s physical safety at peril. Personal harassment or stalking can develop swiftly as a result of cyberstalking.
- Exclusion- It involves deliberately excluding the victim. Deliberately engaging in conversations on social media sites to which the victim is not authorized may constitute this. And inside that group, the bully slanders the victim indecently.
- Masquerading- Masquerading is when a bully uses a false identity to hurt the victim covertly. They may adopt a false identity, imitate someone else, use a real person’s account or phone number, or use a combination of these methods. If the bullied person has to remain anonymous, the bully usually knows the victim well. Bullying victims may be cyberstalked or made to feel inferior. Usually, people do it to entertain themselves or to hurt the victim.
Laws against Cyberbullying in India
Although legislation like Section 67 of the Information Technology Act deals with cyberbullying in a limited way, there is no special law in India that addresses the issue in full. If you publish or transmit offensive content in electronic form, you might face up to five years in prison and a 10 lakh rupee fine under Section 67 of the Act.
- Section 507 IPC- According to the clause, if someone gets criminal intimidation by anonymous communication, the person who threatened, must be punished with either type of jail for a duration that may last up to two years. Bullying and cyberbullying are crimes. This section addresses bullying because the word anonymous is used.
- Section 66E- A section of the IT Act outlines penalties for privacy violations. According to the clause, whoever willfully violates another person’s privacy by sending, photographing, or publishing their private images would be penalized with either a term of imprisonment up to three years or a fine up to three lakhs.
The Cyberbullying Case Laws in India
- The Supreme Court ruled in the Shreya Singhal v. Union of India that section 66A of the IT Act, 2000, which deals with the penalties for delivering undesirable communications using a computer resource or communication device, is invalid and does not apply. Considering the reasonable limitations outlined in Article 19(1)(a) of the Indian Constitution. Sections 66B and 67C of the IT Act and several IPC provisions were sufficient to address such offences because the section was confusing and vague.
- There was a dispute between the provisions of the IPC and the IT Act in Sharat Babu Digumarti v. The Government of the National Capital Territory of Delhi. In this instance, a website had a pornographic video for sale offered on it. Some copies were sold before the listing was taken down because it was purposefully concealed under the heading of “e-books.” In this case, the SC decided that the IT Act would be the only law that applied because it was the legislative intent when an infraction involved an electronic record. And in the event of a dispute between the IT Act and the IPC, the former will take precedence over the latter, with the former taking precedence.
How to Stop Cyberbullying?
Stopping cyberbullying is necessary because the number of incidents is increasing daily. Here are some actions that can be taken to stop cyberbullying. Here are some actions one can take to put an end to bullying:
- Keep the evidence safe- The victim must record and keep all evidence of cyberbullying so they can later use it to demonstrate their vulnerability. All of the evidence, including messages, posts, and comments, must be saved. You can also show this to the appropriate authority for cyberbullying. For instance, if someone is harassing you on a social media account, you can block them or even report them to the relevant social media authorities. They will remove it if you file a complaint against them. Many websites have a zero-tolerance stance.
- Reach out for help- If you believe you are being bullied after taking the above procedures, speak with a cyber lawyer who can help you stop the bullying and get out of the situation.
- Use technology- There are now many options available thanks to new technology that one can use to safeguard themselves. You can adhere to the social networking platform’s privacy policies. You can also report the account you believe is encouraging cyberbullying.
- Protect your account safely- Ensure the security of your password. To stop bullying, never reveal your password to anyone, not even your closest friends. Do not allow anyone to pry through your private information; keep your phones and online accounts password-protected.
In advanced civilizations where it is possible to connect with others online, cyberbullying is an issue that is complicated to address. Although it can occur to anyone, today’s youth are the most often affected.
If we can stop this awful behaviour when it first arises, when they are still young, they are less likely to carry on in that direction. Regrettably, this is not a straightforward task. To accomplish this, parents and schools must be familiar with the matter and take reasonable action. To stop cyberbullying, we all need to work together; it won’t happen quickly. Laws can help deter this behaviour if the government is ready to acknowledge that cyberbullying is an issue.
However, the law shouldn’t be required if parents and schools must eliminate and stop this behaviour right away. Therefore, monitor what kids are doing online and on their phones at school and home and take appropriate action if they engage in inappropriate behaviour.
- What is cyberbullying? https://www.legalserviceindia.com
- Cyberbullying case laws https://thelawexpress.com
- Cyberbullying Research in India – Cyberbullying Research Center.” Cyberbullying Research Center. https://cyberbullying.org/research/map/india.