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Trending: Call for Papers Volume 3 | Issue 2: International Journal of Advanced Legal Research [ISSN: 2582-7340]

Cyberbullying and The Law

 

Introduction:

Internet has become a part of our lives and we’re all in a constant touch with it. It helps us to explore this limitless world by sitting in our houses. It helps connecting us with the people who are far away from us. It helps us clearing our doubts whether they be small or big,easy or tough. In fact, the times we’re living in, the pandemic we’re fighting with, internet is being quite miraculous by helping those who are quarantined in their homes and is also helping to circulate the important information. In short, internet has brought the world on our fingertips. But, as every coin has two sides, advancement of technology has also brought the unforeseen event of cybercrimes. Cyber bullying is one such crime.It is a form of harassment intentionally done by an individual through the medium of internet. It not only concern adults but cyber bullying has spread its roots to children as well. It can happen at anytime and at any place, even the boundaries of our home offer no protection from cyberbullying. In this article, I will be discussing about the definition, types and effects of cyberbullying along with some points of how cyberbullying can be stopped. I will also be talking about the cyberbullying laws in the end.

 

Definition:

Before understanding what cyberbullying is, let us under the term “bullying” by a definition given by The Bar Association of India. It said “Bullying means systematically and chronically inflicting physical hurt or psychological distress on one or more students or employees. It is further defined as unwanted and repeated written, verbal, or physical behaviour, including any threatening, insulting, or dehumanizing gesture, by a student or adult, that is severe or pervasive enough to create an intimidating, hostile, or offensive educational environment; cause discomfort or humiliation; or unreasonably interfere with the individual’s school performance or participation; and may involve but is not limited to: teasing, social exclusion, threat, intimidation, stalking, physical violence, theft, sexual, religious, or racial harassment, public humiliation, or destruction of property.”[1]

Cyberbullying do not have any official definition. But we can define it as an act or crime which is of aggressive nature and is repeatedly committed by an individual or a group of people through the medium of internet. There are different types of cyberbullying like spreading fake news about someone across online platforms, demeaning someone or some group by spreading negative content through SMSs or texts or causing humiliation by sharing malicious and nasty information.

 

Types of Cyberbullying:

There are different types of cyberbullying that can eventually lead to criminal charges. These are-

·         Harassment – It is a form of cyber stalking and one is always in a constant fear of threat to life and rude messages. The bully sends malicious message and even threat the victim. This crime can eventually lead to physical harassment.

·         Flaming – It is similar to harassment. The only difference is that it is fight between two or more people or groups that occurs online which is done via email, text and chat. The fight can lead to some very serious outcomes which include harsh language and images shared about a particular person.

·         Exclusion – This act is of singling out or cornering a person and leaving him/her out of an online group. After doing this, the other members of the same group will then harass the person that was removed from the group.

·         Outing – We come to hear about this one more often in our life. When someone shares the personal and private information of a person online including the images and videos in some cases, then this is known as outing. The victim of act is said to have been “outed” if his/her information is widely available online.

·         Masquerading – For this act, the bully creates a false identity and harasses the other person on some anonymous basis. The cyberbullying may masquerade as another person so that he/she can send nasty massages in another person’s name.

·         Fraping – When someone logs into the victim’s social media account and pretends to be him, it is called fraping. This act maybe amusing for someone of that sort but it is a very serious crime and can ruin the victim’s reputation.

·         Trolling – This act is done intentionally by a person in order to get a response online by using bad languages and insulting the other person on social media platforms. It is the most common form of cyberbullying in these days.

 

Effects:

Cyberbullying can have an adverse effect on people. They are as follows:

·         Tendency to separate themselves from other people and start staying alone

·         Lack of self-esteem

·         Changes in nature or becoming more irritated

·         Feeling unsafe and humiliated

·         Making different excuses to stay away from school or friends

·         Decline in academic grades, sports and extra-curriculum activities

·         Not letting parents or any other family member to use their mobile phones or computer

·         Changes in personality and experiencing depression and anxiety

·         Sudden loss of weight and changes in sleeping and eating patterns

·         Injury marks on skin which indicates self-harm and hiding it by wearing long clothes.

 

How cyberbullying can be stopped:

In-order remove cyberbullying from the society, one should take certain steps to safeguard themselves. Here are steps that can help to irradicate cyberbullying:

·         Saving the evidence – In case anyone is being bullied online, that person should act smartly by saving the proof that they are being the victims of this act. This means that one should save the posts, comments or texts that are being used against him/her, even if it’s saved with that person in form of a screenshot.

·         Do not response –The main aim behind cyberbullying is to humiliate or anger somebody while the wrongdoer enjoys these reactions. The best way to avoid this situation is by not responding to it and hence taking away the power of the perpetrator of inflicting any damage.

·         Ask for help –If a person is being a victim of cyberbullying, the best thing for him/her is to share it with others and ask for their help. Also, one should reach out to the concerned authorities (Cyber Crime Division) for they will not only listen to the victim but will also assist the person to move towards a reasonable solution.

·         Out of sight, out of mind – If a person is being bullied on social media, the most common and used method to put an end to it is by blocking or reporting that person’s account.

·         Keeping your social profile and social media safe – One should follow the below mentioned steps to keep their social profile and social media safe.

o   One should be very careful before opening an email and should never open any email from unverified sources.

o   One should not be so blinded and be careful of what they post online.

o   One should never hurt someone else’s feelings or should never post something hurtful.

o   It is important that one keeps his/her profile under his/her complete control and ensure that who can see the contents of his profile.

 

Cyberbullying laws in India:

In India, there is no particular law for cyberbullying. However, there are various provisions of the existing act which can be related to the cyberbullying act. The IT (Information Technology) act is enacted to primarily deal with matters related to social media.

 

·         Chapter 11 of the Information Technology Act deals with offenses in which the definition of offense of cyberbullying is not clear. Still, the act provides aide under section 66 and section 67.

 

Sec 66A [2] that provides relief against sending offensive messages through communication service etc.

 

The Supreme Court in Shreya Singhal and Ors. Vs. Union of India [3], struck down section 66A of the Information Technology Act, 2000. The court found the cyberlaw provision vague and unconstitutional as it was believed that it restricts the Indian citizens’ right to speech.

 

Sec 66C deals with Identity Theft [4]

Sec 66D deals with Cheating by personation by using the computer resources [5]

Sec 66E deals with Violation of Privacy [6]

Sec 67B deal Punishment for publishing or transmitting of material depicting children any sexually explicit act etc. in electronic form [7]

Sex 72 deals with Breach of confidentiality and privacy [8]

 

Conclusion:

The advance technology helps us in becoming a developed country. It makes our world a simple place to live in. It Helps us to enhance our knowledge, to know that there’s no limit to knowledge. But all this at the cause of some innocent people being traumatised by cyberbullies. Yes, the freedom of speech guaranteed by our constitution is an essential component for people to live. One’s opinion should be respected and expressing oneself on any matter is the matter of individuality. But using this freedom to mentally torture and harass someone should noy be entertained.

 

Footnotes:

1.Anti-bullying laws in India” Bar Association of India, 2015, < https://www.indianbarassociation.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/11/Anti-bullying-laws-in-India.pdf.

2. The Information Act, 2000 § 66 (A).

3. Shreya Singhal and Ors. v Union of India, [1982] 2 S.C.R. 272.

4. The Information Act, 2000 § 66 (C).

5. The Information Act, 2000 § 66 (D).

6. The Information Act, 2000 § 66 (E).

7. The Information Act, 2000 § 67 (B).

8. The Information Act, 2000 § 72.

AUTHORED BY: ANANYA TEWARI

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