Cyberbullying is defined by UNICEF as bullying that occurs through the use of digital technologies. It can occur on social media platforms, messaging platforms, gaming platforms, and mobile phones. It is repeated behaviour intended to frighten, anger, or shame those who are targeted. It includes everything from posting hurtful words, derogatory comments, and false information on public forums or blogs to threats to rape or kill.
Increased internet usage in a digitally empowered society increases the risk of youth harm from cyberbullying on various social networking platforms. In a survey conducted by Child Rights and You (CRY), a non-governmental organization revealed that 22.4% of respondents, aged 13-18 years, who used the internet for longer than three hours a day were vulnerable to online bullying. Cyber-bullying victims may experience anxiety, depression, and other stress-related conditions. In order to tackle the menace of cyberbullying, there are certain legal provisions that can be relied upon to penalize cyber bullies.
Indian Penal Code
- Section 354C of the Code outlines the penalties for the illegal act of any person clicking, photographing women without their permission, or following them wherever they go, expect to be alone and do not want to be disturbed, seeing them, is charged with a fine and imprisonment between one and three years. If the cyberbully falls under this category, if he uploads these images, he may face consequences.
- Section 499 – This section punishes people who send defamatory messages to anyone, whether through email or any other platform, including the internet; if done on social media or online, it may be considered cyberbullying as it will have an impact on the victim’s or target’s psychological condition.
- According to Section 507 of the Indian Penal Code, if someone is subjected to criminal intimidation through anonymous communication, the person who made the threat faces up to two years in prison.
Information Technology Act
- Section 66A of the Act outlines the penalty for sending objectionable, derogatory, abusive, or hurtful messages or material via the internet on any social media or other web chat room or platform.
- If a person deceives or cheats someone through the internet on a social media or any other online platform, that person should be sentenced to up to three years in prison and a fine of up to Rs. 1 lakh as per the provision contained in Section 66D of the Act.
- Section 66E of the IT Act provides for penalties for violations of privacy. According to the section, anyone who knowingly violates the privacy of others by transmitting, capturing, or publishing personal photographs of others faces imprisonment for a term of up to three years or a fine of up to three lakh rupees.
- Section 67 of the Information Technology Act of 2000 punishes anyone who transmits obscene or lascivious material with imprisonment of either kind for a term of up to five years and a fine of up to one lakh rupees.
National cyber crime reporting portal
The NCCR portal is a Government of India initiative that allows victims of criticism, particularly women and children, to file online complaints. They take immediate action on filed complaints with the assistance of local police.
The above link contains contact information of Grievance Officers in each state to track the status of a complaint filed online.
Cyberbullying legislation for schools and colleges in India
With the rise in bullying in schools, particularly in boarding schools in India, the Human Resource Development ministry has established anti-ragging committees to combat the problem. These committees work to punish students who engage in the activities and to rusticate students who are heavily involved in bullying. The University Grants Commission issues anti-ragging regulations in universities and colleges, with proper UGC regulations aimed at reducing the rate of ragging in higher education institutions.
These are some of the remedies available to victims of cyberbullying. It is clear through this article that India needs to amend its cyber security laws to explicitly include provisions governing cyberbullying.