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HARASSMENT AND BULLYING ON SOCIAL MEDIA AND ROLE OF CYBERCRIME DEPARTMENT IN INDIA

ABSTRACT

“There are cyber threats out there, this is a dangerous world, and we have to be safe, we have to be secure no matter the cost.”
Cyberbullying and Online harassment is becoming a common crime in India. It has risen significantly in India over the last decade. It directly affects the mental health of the victim. People in India don’t take mental health as a serious issue but they need to understand this is not a myth or something normal. It can be worse. It makes people feel extreme squeeze and helplessness. People are not aware of this problem which keeps expanding day by day. However, India is developing its cyber laws but that’s not effective as much. At the end of this paper, we will talk about why this is so? The precautions and solutions we can take regarding this issue in India.

KEYWORDS

Harassment, Bullying, Mental Health, Cyber Bullying, Cyber Harassment, Cyber Crime

INTRODUCTION

Even after being on the way to becoming Digital India most of us even didn’t know that such a word (cyber-harassment and cyber-Bullying) or problem exists in our society. Cyber Bullying and cyber harassment come in the list of those problems which are not known by many people but it’s a big problem in our society.

Cyber harassment and cyberbullying became a new form of technology-related crime, occurring in our society. Cyberbullying and cyberharassment are also known as online bullying. It has become increasingly common. Cyberbullying is when someone, bullies or harasses others on the internet or any other digital platform, particularly on social media sites. Cyber harassment can involve sexual harassment which is unwanted contact of a personal nature, or other conduct based on sex affecting the dignity of men and women at work. There are two types of cyber harassment one is “direct” and the other one is “indirect”. “Direct” harassment means when a person harasses someone by sending email or messages of hate, threats, to intimidate a victim. Whereas, “Indirect” harassment includes the use of the internet to display messages of hate, spread false rumors about a victim.

As social media platforms like Facebook, Snapchat, Instagram, Twitter, and others are growing in popularity especially among teenagers. And after covid, cases of online harassment spiked by 5 times. If we look into it, we find that India still doesn’t have efficient provisions and Laws in case of cyberbullying and harassment as compared to other countries. There is always one out of ten adolescents who are facing cyberbullying whether others still not aware of this concept.

These issues can create a big disaster in someone’s life. It can also make some people get suicidal thoughts. But in India, mental health is treated as a myth; and this is one of the reasons that no one takes it as a serious issue to address.

This research paper addresses the issue of cyberbullying and cyber harassment. Firstly, aims to spread awareness about cyberbullying and Online harassment among people. Secondly, Review the current legislation in India regarding cybercrime with other countries. And why this is so? Finally, Solutions and precautions regarding cybercrime.

RESEARCH MYTHOLOGY

The descriptive and secondary quantitive data-based analysis is conducted to understand the roots of cyber harassment and the changes which need to improve the legislation regarding cybercrime in indie. The data collected is from some blog articles, news articles, annual reports published by the government, and websites of different governmental and non-governmental agencies and organizations.

REVIEW OF LITERATURE

The internet has become a medium for people to communicate globally in the course of education, business, and their social lives. No doubt that it is a good way for people to communicate or gather knowledge; on the other hand, social networking platforms are also found useful and made it easy for people to communicate, meet a companion, or compete with people on the other side of the world with just a click of a mouse. But we can’t deny the fact that it’s as harmful as useful; with that click of a mouse people can also gather knowledge about one’s life and that can further result in cyberstalking. Cyberstalking means when a person is followed and pursued Online, invading someone’s privacy. It is a form of harassment that can disrupt the life of the victim and leave him/her feeling threatened and afraid. It usually occurs with adolescents or women.

Cyberbullying Facts

  • Can be public or private
  • Cyberbullies may act alone or in groups
  • Often takes many forms (social media, instant messaging, texting, posting)
  • Both boys and girls can be victims of cyberbullying (usually girls are more likely to victimized by cyberbullying)
  • Cyberbullies may act anonymous (victim never knows who exactly is targeting them).
  • Around 1 in 3 students experience bullying through the academic year.
  • Only 15% of students admit to being bullied online.
  • Kids are 7 times more likely to experience cyberbullying from their friends than strangers.
  • Cyberbullying victims are 2 to 9 times more likely to contemplate suicide.

Reasons behind Cyberbullying and Online harassment

Fascination

This is some who are in one-sided love. The stalker has affection towards the victim and if he/she refuses to accept his proposal then the person will become a stalker and start harassing or bullying her/him in case of making the victim feel malaise. These kinds of stalkers sometimes being abnormal people. Sometimes, something which starts as cybercrime can be turned into crime (e.g. – the victim may be killed by the accused). This kind of harassment can be extremely dangerous.

Revenge

When the accused have a feeling of revenge for the victim; they can do anything for the revenge and that can be turned into something unpredictable. If the victim refused his/her proposal then the accused made revenge against the victim. In Germany, when the victim refused to accept the accused’s proposal. Then, he uploads her photo on social media with a note “If anybody wants sex with me contact me” along with that he wrote her address and phone number. The victim does not have knowledge about this and after that many persons contacted her and some knocked on her door at the midnight and sexually harassed her.

Boasting or show off

This is kind of showing his/her talent how he/she can harass someone. This usually happens in the friends’ circle. The accused challenge their friends about he/she will easily make the victim cry and sometimes it turns into aggravated form.

Jealousy factor

When people found someone better or capable than they. Then that makes a jealousy factor which further turns into them start doing things with make victim feel unconscious, under-confident, and emotionally broken. This can be a horrible experience for the victim.

Cyberbullying and Online harassment can cause the victim to become depressed, anxious, have mental health issues, disrupt academic performance, impact overall happiness, well-being, and are at risk for self-harm.

History of cyberbullying in India

India registered its first cyber harassment case in 2001. When Manish Kathuria was arrested by the Delhi police. He was charged under section 509 of IPC (Indian penal code) for “outraging the modesty” of his victim named “Ritu Kohli”. He impersonating Ritu Kohli in an internet chatroom on the web site, www.mirc.com using her name; as well as use obscene and obnoxious language, give out her residence telephone number, and invite callers.

IPC section, however, did not cover cybercrimes. Due to, there were no specific rules for cybercrimes he was charged under IPC.
Then, there comes a case in 2009. This was India’s first conviction for cyberharassment since cyber laws came into existence in 2000. In March 2009; Prabhu had sent a series of emails from an anonymous address to a colleague who had earlier rejected his proposal. After that girl (identity is protected by law) reports a case. The police tracked down the IP address and arrested Prabhu a month later.

In June 2014; a 17-year-old schoolgirl committed suicide after one of her friends uploaded a morphed picture of her on social networking platform. She left behind a six-page suicide note, in which she blamed an “online friend” named Faisal Khan who is a 23-year-old college student. With him, police took down two of his friends named Deepak and Satish. After the investigation it came out that the victim starts ignoring the accused, then he decided to take revenge by defaming her in public. With the help of his two friends Deepak and Satish, he prepared a fake account of the girl as well as morphed her photographs and posted them along with the victim’s cellphone number with a note of ‘seeking friends’ and ‘open to relationships’. Because of cyber harassment, she had a mental breakdown and that makes her kill herself.

In June 2016 a 21-year-old college student named Vinupriya filed a complaint that someone posted a morphed photograph of her on Facebook on June 23. But the police, either lacking the investigation skills to trace the accused or because of lack of interest, told Vinupriya’s father that they will nab the culprit in two weeks while her Vinupriya’s morphed nude and semi-nude photographs were there on the social media platform. After the accused posted one more morphed picture of her on June 26, she traumatized and hanged herself.

Since the 1990s, harassment and bullying have become a common occurrence due to the internet. In 2001, when India registered its first cyber harassment case, the person has to charge under the IPC section as there were no cybercrime laws; it causes alarm to the Indian government, for the need to amend laws regarding the aforesaid crime and protection of victims of cybercrime.

Legislation for cybercrimes in India

The information technology (amendment) act, 2008

Section 66A of the information technology (amendment) act, 2008 states punishment for sending offensive m Any person who sends, through a computer resource or a communication device, –

  • Any information that is grossly offensive or has menacing character; or
  • Any information which he knows to be false, but to cause annoyance, inconvenience, danger, obstruction, insult, injury, criminal intimidation, enmity, hatred or ill will, persistently by making use of such computer resource or a communication device; or
  • Any electronic mail or electronic mail message to cause annoyance or inconvenience or to deceive or to mislead the addressee or recipient about the origin of such messages,

Shall be punishable with imprisonment for a term which may extend to three years and with a fine.

The IT Act (2008) doesn’t directly address harassment but the problem is dealt more like an “intrusion on to the privacy of an individual” than as regular cyber offenses which are discussed in the IT act, 2008. Hence, the most used provision for regulating Cyber harassment in section 72 of the IT Act (2008) of India States “Breach of confidentiality and privacy”.

Section 72 of the Information Technology Act (2008) provides a criminal penalty wherein the course of performing a contract, a service provider discloses personal information without the data subject’s consent or in breach of a lawful contract and with the knowledge that he or she will cause or is likely to cause wrongful loss or gain.

These provisions of the Information Technology Act (2008) can be read with section 441 of the IPC (Indian Penal Code), 1860 which deals with offenses related to criminal trespass. It states that Whoever enters into or upon property in possession of another with intent to commit an offense or to intimidate, insult or annoy any person in possession of such property, or, having lawfully entered into or upon such property, unlawfully remains there with intent thereby to intimidate, insult or annoy any such person or with intent to commit an offense, or having lawfully entered into or upon such property, remains there with the intention of taking unauthorized possession or making unauthorized use of such property and fails to withdraw such property or its possession or use, when called upon to do so by that another person by notice in writing, duly served on him, is said to have commit “criminal trespass.“

Indian Penal Code (Amendment) Act, 2013 concerning cybercrime

Before Feb 2013, there were no laws that directly deal with cybercrime in India. In 2013, the parliament of India made amendments to the Indian Penal Code (1860) introducing cyberstalking as a criminal offense.

Cyberstalking can be used interchangeably with online harassment. Stalking is unwanted or repeated surveillance by an individual or group towards another person. Stalking behaviors are interrelated to harassment and intimidation and may include following the victim in person or monitoring them.

The Criminal Law (amendment) act, 2013 added Section 354D in the Indian Penal Code, 1860 to define and punish the act of stalking. As per the definition.

Any man who-

  • Follows a woman and contacts, or attempts to contact such woman to foster personal interaction repeatedly despite a clear indication of disinterest by such woman; or
  • Monitors the use by a woman of the internet, email, or any other form of electronic communication, commits the offense of stalking.

Provided that such conduct shall not amount to stalking if the man who pursued it proves that-

  • It was pursued to prevent or detect crime and the man accused of stalking had been entrusted with the responsibility of prevention and detection of crime by the State; or
  • It was pursued under any law or to comply with any condition or requirement imposed by any person under any law; or
  • In particular circumstances, such conduct was reasonable and justified.

Whoever commits the offense of stalking shall be punished on first conviction with imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to three years, and shall also be liable to fine; and be punished on a second or subsequent conviction, with imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to five years, and shall also be liable to fine.

Cyber Stalking of Men

At present time, if a man is a victim of cyberstalking, Section 354D of IPC (Indian Penal Code) will not apply. However, other provisions of the IPC or the IT Act may apply according to that particular case that happens.

Most of the studies found that bullying can have tremendous negative and long-term consequences. It can affect victims’ mental health. Many professional groups like educators, teachers, and healthcare workers express their worry and their belief that it is vital to stop cyberbullying and to help the victims. Hence, there is an urgent need for prevention and intervention programs on cyberbullying. Over the last few years in India, high-profile cyberbullying and Online harassment cases have caught lawmaker’s attention. Though no law can prevent cyberbullying and online harassment altogether, there is currently no federal law that forbids cyberbullying or Online harassment. India is developing its cybercrime department day by day but it is still far back than other developed countries like the USA and China. We can say that in developed countries, awareness and knowledge among the people about cybercrime and IT law is much better than the developing country. Recently, on 25 Feb government of India made new rules in the IT Act “Guidelines for intermediaries and digital media ethics code, 2021″ in the exercise of the powers conferred by sub-section (1) clauses (z) and (zg) of the sub-section (2) of section 87 of the Information Technology Act, 2000 (21 of 2000), and in supersession of the Information Technology (Intermediaries Guidelines) Rules, 2011, except as respect things done or omitted to be done before such supersession; this act gives preference to the safety of women and children. The best part of this act from my point of view is the ‘social media platforms have to take action on every report within 24 hours; it will be very helpful if someone is facing any defamation or any sexual harassment post it will be immediately removed by that social media platform.

Challenges faced by India regarding cybercrime

  • India doesn’t have a separate Stalking law like the U.S.A
  • There is no immediate action from the police department, if it has happened the suicide of Vinupriya did not happen.
  • There is no effective law against cyberstalking.
  • Section 354D is limited because there are no specific provisions for if a male stalked.
  • The extradition law of India is too weak.
  • The stalkers are using modern technologies but the cybercrime technology is weaker than the stalkers.
  • The loopholes of the law
  • There is no fear of punishment from the Stalker’s side.
  • A large number of vulnerable victims don’t even recognize that what is happening to them is bullying

Solutions

  • Separate Stalking law must be enacted.
  • Making of law regarding stalking of men.
  • The State should enforce law and order effectively.
  • Awareness among people

we look upon mostly adolescents are involved in cybercrime as they are the one who mostly uses social media platforms and they are well aware of the functions of the internet. So, we need to educate them and make them aware of how the internet can be dangerous for them.

Here, are some Cyberbullying prevention tips

  • Acknowledge cyberbullying and discuss with children and teens exactly what it is and why it’s so harmful.
  • Remind teens to avoid sending or posting anything that shouldn’t be known to everyone.
  • Teach young people to safeguard their passwords and personal details.
  • School counselors should be there to educate them about cyberbullying and Online harassment and how to fight with them.
  • Teach your children specific tactics for staying safe online.
  • Do not share personal information in public spaces anywhere online.
  • Be cautious about access to computers, phones, and social media accounts.
  • Do not ever reply to offensive, provocative e-mails if you get them.
  • If you feel like someone is stalking you, immediately tell someone trustworthy or report it to the police.
  • Keep evidence of possible harassment by saving messages.
  • Make them comfortable with you, that they can share things with you or something from which they are suffering.
  • Encourage teens to stand up to others who are being harassed, and to report cyberbullying they may witness.
  • Always remember that prevention is better than cure.

Bullying and harassment are distinctive in law since the offending behavior is said to occur only when the victim reports him/her self to be distressed as a result of the behavior of another to whom they believe to be threatening. There are very few rules relating to cybercrime but People in India are not even aware of those laws; this is one of the reasons why people don’t get their report register. Secondly, it found that police are taking this for granted, and as it so difficult to track down the abusers, and they think that it’s not worth it.

CONCLUSION

Cyberbullying and cyberharassment are important for raising awareness and prosecuting crimes appropriately. Its prevention is everyone’s responsibility; as we say if you want to change something start it from you. Look around you, if you ever see someone is bullying or someone is being bullied raise your voice. Even if you see a small initiative of anyone stop them because we never know what it can be turned into.

AUTHOR

Khushboo Kumari