Author: Shreya Singh, III year of B.A.,LL.B. from Banasthali Vidyapith
In today's modern era people are dependent on technologies or the internet and with the advancement of technologies or the internet there comes a lot of troubles and one of them is cyberbullying. This article tries to give you the insight view of laws related to cyberbullying as the meaning of the act is harassing someone through technological devices where a person hide behind the screen and mentally torture the other person is called cyberbullying.
In today communicating with known and unknown people through the internet becomes very easy. In this world, everything has its two sides whether it is a living thing or technology, so as the internet has its positive as well as negative side some use it on a positive side and the other use it on a negative side like we can say that the negative side is cyberbullying, cyberstalking, criminal intimidation on internet and fraud etc. This article also gives insight into different forms of cyberbullying and its current statistics in India.
Meaning of Cyber Bullying
Cyberbullying is a kind of bullying which is done with cyber means through electronic devices such as phone, laptop and tablet etc. Cyberbullying can also occur through various social media platforms like Whatsapp, Instagram, Snapchat and Twitter.
Cyberbullying causes mental illness due to which people may suffer from anxiety, depression, emotional, psychological problems and sometimes it may also lead to suicidal thoughts. People were getting bullied because of the judging nature of other people. These people judge other people by their physical appearances such as skin colour, body type or by what other people are wearing.
It is observed that cyberbullying happens with all age groups of people but most cases of cyberbullying came across in adulthood. Cyberbullying is only said to be bullying when someone is commenting or passing harsh comments on someone on a public platform which will damage his/her reputation and image in front of millions of people.
Threatening someone on a gaming platform is also considered cyberbullying. Sometimes on social media if someone is wearing a short dress and posted that picture on social media then people start commenting negative comments on their post. It is observed that only 40% of people are those people who comment on someone's post and 60% of people give harsh comments because they feel that what other people are wearing or doing something which is not nice according to them? And that is why they bully other people by making fun of them in front of other people.
Forms of Cyber Bullying
1. Exclusion – Exclusion can happen in different ways as someone might deliberately exclude from online activities, conversation or social media attacks, children who don't have the latest technology such as mobile phones, laptops and tablets are prone to exclusion.
Harassment is sustained and intentional bullying comprises abusive and threatening messages. If it is sent to someone it will affect the mental well being of that person.
Outing is the active public humiliation done by a child or group of persons through the online mode by posting an image, video or embarrassing information of that person without his consent. Even reading someone’s messages in public or loudly without his / her consent will also lead to the outing.
Cyberstalking is a dangerous form of cyberbullying. In which attackers harass the victims through online communication via email, SMS or social media. It also refers to adults using the internet to contact and meet young people for abusive purposes.
Frapping is when someone logged into your social media account and impersonated you by posting inappropriate content in their name. Remember everything posting on social media never be fully gone from there even if deleted.
6. Fake profiles
It can be created by someone to hide their real identity cyberbully and it is done on social media platforms like Facebook, Instagram etc. It is important to address or identify these fake profiles so that their activities are ignored or even reported to cyber cells.
Dissing is sending or posting cruel information about you through online mode to damage their reputation or friendship. It also includes posting damaged photos and videos online.
Trickery involves gaining your trust by which your secrets can be shared publicly on online mode and also through your secrets they would also blackmail you.
Trolling means deliberately provoking someone by using insulting messages or doing inappropriate comments on someone’s post on social media to annoy or defame someone's image publicly. These trollers use several accounts to troll. If trolling is done with harmful intent and malicious intent then only it is considered as trolling.
Catfishing involves stealing online identities and recreating social networking profiles for deceptive purposes. They look at your profile and take your information to create a fake identity or persona. This could also involve personal information and it will damage your online reputation.
Current Statistics of Cyber Bullying in India
In a survey around 9.2% of the 630 adolescents in Delhi, National Capital Region had experienced cyberbullying and among them, half of them had not reported to their teacher, parents or any other social media companies and platforms. In a recent study, it was found by Child Rights and You, Non- governmental organisation fund.
In a survey, it was also found that children who use the internet for three hours continuously and who are at the age group of 13-18 years are more prone to online bullying and the respondents of this stats are 22.4% and 28% of respondents who use the internet for continuously five hours or more are more prone to cyberbullying.
Cyberbullying Laws in India
There are no specific laws related to cyberbullying as a crime, but in The Information Technology Act, 2000, in The Indian Penal Code, 1860 and Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act, 2012 there some statutes which deal with the same issue and those sections come under the purview of cyberbullying are as follows:-
Section 66A of the Information Technology Act, 2000 says that whoever sends offensive messages through online communication through the computer, mobile and any other communication devices. Any person who uses any information that’s grossly offensive or has menacing character or any information which he knows to be false but using that information for annoyance, inconvenience, danger and injury to another person or using any electronic mail or message for annoyance. Whosoever, commits this offence shall be punished with imprisonment for a term which may extend to three years or with a fine.
Section 66E of the Information Technology Act, 2000 says that whoever intentionally or knowingly captures, publishes or transmits. Whosoever commits this offence shall be punished with imprisonment for a term which may extend to three years or with a fine of 2 lakh.
Section 66C of the said IT Act, 2000 talks about whoever, fraudulently or dishonestly makes use of electronic signature, password or other unique identifying feature of other people. So, that person shall be punished with imprisonment which may extend to three years and shall also be liable to a fine which may extend to rupees 1 lakh.
Section 66D of the Information Technology Act, 2000 talks about that whoever, by using any communication device or computer resources cheats someone by personating, shall be punished with imprisonment for a term which may extend to 3 years and shall also liable to fine which may extend to the image of a private area of a person without his/ her consent, by violating that person's privacy. He/she shall be punished with imprisonment for a term which may extend to 3 years or with a fine not exceeding 2 lakh or both.
Section 67 of the Information Technology Act, 2000 talks about punishment for punishing or transmitting obscene material in electronic form, and that person shall be punished with imprisonment for a term which may extend to 5 years or with a fine which may extend to 10 lakh.
Section 499 of the Indian Penal Code, 1860 talks about defamation which means when a person uses any kind of a false statement that harms the reputation of the other person, defamation can be of both slander or libel that is oral or written and defamation can also be done on electronic devices. Whoever defames any person shall be punished with simple imprisonment of 2 years or with a fine or both and it is described in Section 500 of IPC,1860.
Section 507 of the Indian Penal Code, 1860 whoever, commits the offence of criminal intimidation by an anonymous communication and that person shall be punished with imprisonment of either description for a term which may reach to 2 years or with fine.
Section 509 of the Indian Penal Code, 1860 whoever, uses any word, gesture or act intended to insult the modesty or induces upon the privacy of a woman shall be punished with simple imprisonment for a term which may extend to 1 year or with fine or both.
A survey which is conducted by Forbes, a popular site which states that India ranked no.1 in cases of cyberbullying which is 37% which got reported by children's parents and Brazil stands on ranked no. 2 with 29% cases. Lawmakers should make strict laws against cyberbullying as there are not any strict laws associated with cyberbullying.
Mainly children are the target of cyberbullies and if someone is bullying them they should immediately report against those bullies in the police station or cyber cells. If someone is facing cyberbullying or any other cyber-related crime they ought to mention this with their parents, teachers and cyber cells officers as if they do not share or discuss their problem with them it will lead to huge mental health disorder. People should also take security measures by securing their social media profiles from other people and by not sharing any personal information with a stranger.
Laws regarding cyberbullying in India – Lexlife India.
Indian Penal Code, 1860.
Information Technology Act, 2000.
Cyberbullying Statistics and facts for 2021.