This Research Article aims to give an insight over the cyber bullying laws prevalent in India and the need for specific legislation so as that it would bring clarity on different legal aspects of bullying, ease the judicial process as well lead to a better working environment. Further, this article explains that how the cyber bullying is getting dangerous by each passing day in this fast- developing technological -age. Cyber bullying is defined as “The use of electronic communication t o bully a person, typically sending messages of an intimidating or threatening nature.” In another words, the term ‘bullying’ is said to be a “form of harassment where superior strength or influence is used to force or intimidate someone to do something which he/she would not want to do otherwise. Offender harass the victim by using shameful pictures, videos, fake profiles etc. and this constant humiliation, threats, false allegations through social media platforms creates a hostile environment for the victim. causes psychological and emotional drain/damage, insecurity, stress, anxiety, depression and constant mental trauma leading to the culmination of suicidal behavior.
In this modern era, anything and everything is available at the click of a button. This cyber world is known to have opened various opportunities and it has given rise to an ocean of information which in turn has widened the base of our knowledge but as we all know that everything comes with its own pros and cons and now it’s a high time to think of the evil as a result of knowledge and connectivity which is cyber bullying. Data shows the rapidly increasing crimes and leaving a drastic impact on the minds of the youngsters.
WHAT IS CYBER-BULLYING?
‘Cyber bullying is the harassment or bullying executed through digital devices like computers, laptops, smart-phones, and tablets. The platforms where cyber bullying can occur include social media, chat rooms, and gaming platforms where people can view and participate in the sharing of content in order to cause huge harm to the person’s reputation. Cyber bullying is so dangerous because it gives the ability to harass anyone in public at any time through devices and traumatized the person mentally. Sometimes, victim get so much humiliation through this and commit suicide. The different types of cyber bullying involve causing humiliation through hateful comments on online platforms/apps, or through SMS or messaging. It comprises posting, sending or sharing negative, nasty or false information about another individual for causing humiliation and character assassination.
TYPES OF CYBER-BULLYING
Just like social media, the forms and nature of cyber-bullying is also a diverse and widespread sphere. Thus to enable parents and young adults to report cyber-bullying and adopt measures to prevent cyber bullying, it is important to know the various types of cyber bullying so that people could have become more aware regarding this issue. These include
1) Posting hurtful, or humiliating rumors or comments about an individual online
2) Publishing an embarrassing or nude/inappropriate photo or video
3) Creating a fake or inappropriate webpage about another individual
4) Issuing online threats provoking an individual to kill themselves or hurt someone else
5) Triggering religious, racial, ethnic or political hate online by posting hate comments or videos
6) Faking an identity online with an intention to deceive or extract information.
DATA OF LASTING IMPACT OF CYBER BULLYING ON THE TEENAGERS
Around 9.2% of 630 adolescents surveyed in Delhi-National Capital Region had experienced cyber bullying and half of them had not reported it to teachers, guardians or the social media companies concerned, a recent study by Child Rights and You (CRY), a non-governmental organisation, found.
Vulnerability rose with internet use: 22.4% of respondents (aged 13-18 years) who used the internet for longer than three hours a day were vulnerable to online bullying, while up to 28% of respondents who used the internet for more than four hours a day faced cyber-bullying, concluded the study titled ‘Online Study and Internet Addiction’, released on February 18, 2020.
NCRB data shows 44,546 cases were registered. According to the latest government data, India has recorded a massive increase of 63.5% in cybercrime cases in the year 2019. The National Crime Record Bureau's (NCRB) data stated that 44,546 cases of cyber crimes were registered in 2019 as compared to 28,248 in 2018
One in four adolescents also reported seeing a morphed image or video of themselves, and 50% of these were not reported to the police, the study found.
Cases of cyber stalking or bullying of women or children increased by 36% from 542 in 2017 to 739 in 2018, data released recently by the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) showed. Meanwhile, the conviction rate for cyber stalking or bullying of women and children fell 15 percentage points from 40% in 2017 to 25% in 2018. However, during the same period, the pendency percentage saw an increase of 1 percentage point to 96%, the data show. Yet, the reported cases of threatening/blackmail fell 28.3% from 311 to 223 during the same period, which experts said is largely due to underreporting.
ANTI-CYBER BULLYING LAWS IN INDIA
Though cyber bullying in India has claimed more innocent lives than in any other Asian country however, it is shocking that there are no special Anti-Cyber Bullying Laws in India yet. Various provisions of the preexisting rules, regulations and acts cover the various forms of cyber bullying. These include some key provisions of the Information Technology Act such as
Sec.66A that deals with sending offensive messages through communication service, etc
Sec.66C that deals with Identity Theft
Sec.66D that deals with Cheating by personation by using the computer resource
Sec.66E that deals with Violation of privacy
Sec.67B that deals with Punishment for publishing or transmitting of material depicting children in any sexually explicit act, etc. in electronic form
Sec.72 that deals with Breach of confidentiality and privacy
Sec.503 of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) that deals with Sending threatening messages through email
Sec.509 of the IPC that deals with Word, gesture or act intended to insult the modesty of a woman
Sec.499 of the IPC that deals with Sending defamatory messages through email
Sec .500 of the IPC that deals with Email Abuse.
We also have the latest legislation “The Protection of Children from Sexual Offence Act, 2012 (POCSO Act) which protects children below the age of 18 years from any form of sexual harassment, sexual assault and pornography which would include any form of sexual- cyber bullying which would be punishable under the provisions of this Act.
Examining the laws prevalent to address this rampantly increasing crime of cyber-bullying, there exists a dire need to have a ‘specific legislation’ in place. In this regard, it is relevant to mention that the Ministry of Human Resources, having realized the gravity of cyber-bullying, has directed all schools and colleges to form Anti-Ragging Committees. The University Grants Commission (UGC) has also issued special regulations called the ‘UGC Regulations on Curbing the Menace of Ragging in Higher Educational Institutions 2009’. Even the National Council of Education Research and Training (NCERT) has brought about a detailed set of guidelines defining the role of teachers, parents, and students in the ethical use of the Internet. The gist of the guidelines states that students are required to “report online bullying immediately” to teachers, parents, or someone they trust. Further, the guidelines also stipulate that educational institutions are to use built-in filters to put a check and prevent harassment by cyber-bullies. In fact, most recently, in a PIL filed based on a letter from an NGO named Prajwala dated 18.02.2015, the Hon’ble Supreme Court suo motu, in order to curb circulation of child pornography, rape, gang rape videos on the Internet through social media websites, had directed the central government to create an online portal and hotline number where anonymous complaints can be filed against those responsible for uploading such offensive videos. When the matter came up for hearing on 18.05.2018, a status report was filed by the ASG that the Cyber Crime reporting portal is in its final form and shall be launched on or before July 15, 2018. Further, the Hon’ble Supreme Court had also sought from the parties before it, i.e., Yahoo, Facebook Ireland, Facebook India, Google India, Google Inc, Microsoft, and WhatsApp, to give a report on the recommendations of the Ajith Kumar Committee on measures taken to stop the uploading and sharing of such videos on the Internet, and since the entities had not furnished any affidavit detailing the same, they were fined '1,00,000/- (Rupees One Lakh) each for their apathy in not complying with the directions of the Hon’ble Supreme Court.
It is relevant to state that the Hon’ble Supreme Court has taken this lacuna in the law seriously, and now, it is for the executive and the legislature to put in place a legislation that regulates cyber-bullying as the same is the need of the hour.
CASES OF CYBER BULLYING IN INDIA
With the increasing availability of data services and social media presence, cyber bullying in India has witnessed a sudden rise. Students, as well as other individuals across the nation, become a victim of horrendous cyber bullying cases.There are quite a few studies which have reported that bullying is often considered a way to stay in power, Some people also may want to gain popularity or feel powerful by hurting or abusing others.” Personal grudges are a big reason for online bullying.
Rittika Sharma's case:
Rittika Sharma, who was a student in a reputed Delhi school was stalked by a Facebook friend whom she unfriended months ago and whom she gave all her information including residential address, school address and even cell phone number. She told her brother regarding this and her brother filed a complaint against this. After this incident Delhi police organised an awareness programs where all the students were told not to send their personal details to any stranger.
Ritu Kohli's Case:
While discussing cyber stalking and Cyber bullying, Ritu Kohli's case is the case one should mention. Ritu Kohli's Case was the first cyber stalking case reported in India. A girl named Ritu Kohli filed a complaint in 2001 that someone else is using her identity in social media and she was deliberately getting calls from different numbers she was also getting calls from abroad. A case was also filed under Section 509 of Indian penal code.
“The mental, psychological, and emotional breakdown of victims of bullying has long been documented--cyber bullying only continues in that tradition,” pointed out Shah, who was co-founder and director of research at the non-profit policy think-tank Centre for Internet and Society, which is based in Bengaluru.
INTERNET AND ITS DIVERSITY IN THIS MODERN ERA : BOON OR BANE
Study says that three in four adolescent users are not aware of--or do not adhere to--the minimum age for creating a social media account, which is 13 for Facebook and 18 for other networking sites, the CRY survey found. Having grown up around gadgets, 80% of the boys and 59% of the girls interviewed by CRY had social media accounts; 31% had more than two accounts.
The internet does allow for a vast unprecedented connection with strangers, but this is not any different from people who travel, work, and find new communities in the physical world, and sometimes it becomes blunder for you. Online misbehaviour is rooted in the lack of social governance and political processes to shape and train people into recognising each other as human, cyber bullying is sometimes a coping mechanism for maladjusted individuals, who exploit its anonymous or distantly mediated interactions. This is indeed not an easy task but the times is demanding a proper scrutinization.
In this age of modernization, we can see that children are getting very easy access to reach out into this social sites which are not meant for them and the very reason is that the parents are not looking properly that how the child is using it and what his doing with it. And this leniency drowns the young mind into this dark pool.
LACK OF AWARENESS AMONG THE PEOPLE
One of the biggest problems in reporting cyber bullying is that a large number of vulnerable victims don't even recognise that what is happening to them is bullying. As in other studies of abuse, it has been shown that bullying has been structurally normalised within the digital space, and so often the victims do not even know that the harassment and bullying that they are facing is not natural or normal, and hence they lose their agency to actually report and use the grievance mechanisms and affordances to find respite. Only 35% of the respondents to the CRY study knew of the internet safety guide published by the National Council of Education Research and Training that offers tools and tips for internet use.
There are other reasons why cyber bullying is rarely reported. Those abused may be unaware of legal options, fear retaliation or worry about being stuck with defamation charges and most importantly the social stigma they will get, resists them to come out and loud their voice against this digital torture They doubt the legal framework and the delay in investigation is also one of the reason.
SUGGESTION : WHAT COULD BE DONE TO REDUCE CYBER BULLYING
A campaign to create awareness about cyber bullying among children and adolescents. Conducting focused training program for teachers, and sessions with students on internet safety and guidelines that are included in the school curriculum could be effective. Existing cyber laws should be revised for safety issues and portals where cyber-crime can be reported, should be set up. There should be special counseling centre in every city or district for both the victim and the accused in order to deal with their psychological condition.
Cyber bullying, if no steps are taken against this, can create a huge problem on the Internet. Lawmakers should make a committee to make law against cyber bullying because bullying causes a huge mental pressures on the victim. Not only cyber bullying, there are many other cyber crimes happening all over the country which needs separate laws. If laws are not made soon the victims will have to suffer more. But as we all know that the precautions are better than cure the students needs to be more aware and needs to use Internet positively, they need to take security measures on their social media profiles.
The Internet erodes historical socioeconomic barriers to communication, making it possible to reach anyone online—from friends and family to celebrities and world leaders. Open communication channels are generally good for the advancement of humanity, as they encourage greater collaboration and shared learning. Now, however, anyone with a social media presence can be susceptible to cyber bullying and abuse online. The transparent and viral nature of the Internet has the power to alter a person’s temperament and even their long-term fate within a matter of seconds, regardless of who they are or their life experiences Everyone has the right to civil liberties and to live a life that is dignified in equality with others. It is important to reframe the issue to understand that a person is never abused because of their race, sexuality, religion or disability, for example. A person is bullied because of the negative attitude or circumstances of the aggressor. The key difference is that attitudes and circumstances can change with the appropriate levels of support and education. Identity is not something that can be changed or influenced by abusive behaviour, and no one should ever attempt to do so.
Young people must be encouraged to freely express themselves and exercise their rights in all environments, digital or non-digital. They must be empowered to contribute towards a democratic, global community by sharing their own ideations and opinions without attacking others who hold contrasting views.
A world that is truly fair and equal requires a culture of respect and mutual understanding. An interconnected world requires communication standards to which all adhere. With that goal in mind, we still have a long journey ahead of us.
MANIKCHAND PAHADE LAW COLLEGE, AURANGABAD