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Cyber Bullying

"Courage is fire, and bullying is smoke." - Benjamin Disraeli

Cyberbullying refers to the bullying or harassment on media platforms. It is the misuse of technology to harass, humiliate, threaten, embarrass or target any person. Online threats, aggression, rude and vulgar messages, threatening to post such photographs or videos or messages as to embarrass or hurt the reputation, character and feelings of some person is known as cyberbullying.

It refers to the bullying with the use of digital technologies. It can take place on any social platforms including social media, messaging platforms, emails, online forums and even on gaming platforms. This behaviour is aimed at scaring, embarrassing, enraging or shaming those who are made targets.

Some examples of cyber-bullying are:

  1. Spreading lies about or posting embarrassing photos or videos of someone on social media
  2. Sending hurtful, abusive or threatening messages, images or videos via messaging platforms
  3. Impersonating someone and sending mean messages to others on their behalf or through fake accounts.1.


Impact of Cyberbullying

Like face to face bullying, cyberbullying also has detrimental effects on the victims. Cyberbullying tends to lower down the morale of the victims; it makes them emotionally and mentally weak. A number of victims tend to go into depression as a result of severe cyberbullying and many also commit suicide.

Sometimes the perpetrator(s) might threaten the victims to upload illicit photographs or even morph their photographs and videos in such a way that it spoils the reputation and character of the victims. Many victims, out of the fear of loss of reputation or character assassination, take dire steps such as committing suicide.

Not only that, children who are victims of cyberbullying can have a lifetime impact on their mind and go through anxiety, depression, loneliness, sadness and other mental illnesses. They can also face loss of interest in activities and loss of attention which can lead to a downfall in their grades. Many victims tend to start smoking, drinking alcohol and even become drug addicts as a means to evade the trauma of cyberbullying.

Laws against cyberbullying in India

There are no specific laws in India which provide protection against cyberbullying. However, the provision of Section 67 of the Information Technology Act deals with cyberbullying to some extent. Section 67 of the IT Act prescribes punishment for publishing or transmitting obscene material in electronic form for five years and also with fine which may extend upto Rs. 10 Lac.

Following are some other provisions of the cyber-bullying laws in India:

  1. Section 507 of the Indian Penal Code:

    This section of IPC provides that if anyone receives criminal intimidation through anonymous communication then the person giving threats shall be punished with imprisonment which may extend upto two years.
     
  2. Section 66 E of IT Act:

    This section of the IT Act provides for punishment for violation of privacy. It states that any person who intentionally violates the privacy by transmitting, capturing or publishing private pictures of anyone shall be punished with imprisonment which may extend upto three years or with fine which may extend upto Rs. 3 Lac.

Conclusion

Cyberbullying is a heinous crime and perpetrators of this crime deserve stricter punishment. There is a dire need for specific laws related to cyberbullying. There is also a need to ensure that victims of cyberbullying can lead a normal and healthy life. It needs to be ensured that victims received psychological, emotional and mental help in order to come out of the trauma from bullying.

Also, education regarding this heinous crime and ways to prevent and to safeguard oneself from cyberbullying needs to be imparted in educational institutions as young children are more prone to cyber-bullying. Further, even parents need to ensure that their children do not misuse technology and internet and need to keep a check on the usage of electronic devices.

Lastly, one needs to be aware enough to understand the consequences of using too much social media and other such platforms. One needs to take all precautions and use technology with care and caution.

End-Notes:
  1. Cyberbullying: What is it and how to stop it, https://www.unicef.org/end-violence/how-to-stop-cyberbullying, (Visited on 02 September, 2022).
Written By: Akshita Tandon - 4th Year Law Student, University Institute of Legal Studies, Panjab University, Chandigarh

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