CYBER BULLYING – A DEVASTATING CRIME

CYBER BULLYING – A DEVASTATING CRIME

The internet is considered as a keystone of global communication and commerce which allows free exchange of information between individuals and organizations within seconds. The internet finds new users connecting and new services cropping up daily. With thousands of databases, rich in all sorts of information, covering a different range of topics, the internet has become a valuable source of knowledge and a communication superhighway.During the current situation of the pandemic, with the outbreak of COVID-19, it has been observed that the number of internet users is increasing at a rapid rate. As per the 2019 ‘Digital in India’ report released by Internet & Mobile Association of India (IAMAI), for the first time, the number of internet users in rural India has surpassed the number of internet users in urban areas. The total number of active internet users in India, as per the said report, is 504 million. While the entire world is busy in defending against the pandemic, cyber bullying is turning out to be another rife demanding to be wrestled against.

Australia’s eSafety Commissioner came out with a report stating that, as people have started to spend long hours online during the lock-down, the cases of cyber bullying has increased by 40% at the drop of the hat, along with 15% of them receiving direct threats of harm.5 While schools and colleges are coordinating online classes and assignments, most of the teenagers are found struggling with online toxicity. Thus, where they are ought to be helped by the benefit of the internet, they are getting entrapped by it.

This paper ergo addresses the issue of cyber bullying and what legal remedies can be sought by the victims of this crime.

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Firstly, the paper will aim at defining the term cyber bullying. Secondly, it will examine the laws prevailing in India related to the aforementioned crime and examine the loopholes therein. Thirdly, the paper will provide for suggestions of how one could prevent themselves from becoming a victim of this crime and discuss the guidelines provided by UNICEF in the same regard. And fourthly, it will provide for, what long term and short term measures that should be adopted to eliminate the commission of this crime.

Since people are using the internet religiously during the COVID-19 lock-down, online toxicity is also leveling up. Using the liberty of anonymity which the online platform offers, severe offences to frighten or provoke or discredit the target are being committed, cyber bullying being the most significantly growing in the present scenario.

There are no laws in India which lays down the definition of the term cyber bullying. However, the definition of cyber bullying can be construed by the description offered by the various institutions. Bully, as has been defined in the Oxford Dictionary and considered by the Bombay High Court , is a person who uses strength or power to coerce others by fear.

Bullying, as expounded by Bar Association of India means, using certain tactics, be it written, verbal or physical behavior to habitually inflict upon the other person unwanted physical hurt or psychological distress by using threatening, insulting or dehumanizing gesture which is intimidating, creates hostility and is offensive and is seen as an unreasonable interference causing discomfort.

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United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) describes cyber bullying as a form of bullying where one uses digital technologies. Herein, the offenders use social media, different messaging platforms, gaming applications and mobile phones as a tool to lead the commission of such offence. It is a repeated behavior aimed at threatening, annoying and humiliating the victim.8 Exempli gratia, posting false or mortifying images of a person on social media platforms, or sending messages which threaten the target, or proves to be harmful to him/her in any way, or creating a fake account impersonating someone to send/ post aforementioned contents.9 Evidence is the only marked difference between physical bullying and cyber bullying as pointed out by UNICEF.

Cyber bullying leaves behind shreds of evidence like voice notes, fingerprints, or texts, which acts as easy first-hand clues in the investigation of the same.

UnitedNations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) opined that in contrast to cyber-stalking and online harassment, in cases of cyber bullying children are both the victim as well as the perpetrators of the offence, where one person tries to insult, exasperate or otherwise attack the other person via information and communication technology (ICT). In Patanjali Ayurveda Limited and Anr. v. Google LLC. And Ors. where an extremely offending video was uploaded on a social media page with several defamatory, disparaging and threatening statements against the plaintiff and the plaintiff claimed the charges of harassment and cyber bullying be levied on the accused, the court permitted them to avail the remedies under law. As can be derived, cases of cyber bullying are reported when the repeated behavior of the offender becomes distressing for the victim because of the threat that it causes to one’s dignity. Therefore, the effect of the offending behavior, and victim’s perception of it is pivotal in determining the charge of cyber bullying. gesture which is intimidating, creates hostility and is offensive and is seen as an unreasonable interference causing discomfort.

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UnitedNations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) describes cyber bullying as a form of bullying where one uses digital technologies. Herein, the offenders use social media, different messaging platforms, gaming applications and mobile phones as a tool to lead the commission of such offence. It is a repeated behavior aimed at threatening, annoying and humiliating the victim. Exempli gratia, posting false or mortifying images of a person on social media platforms, or sending messages which threaten the target, or proves to be harmful to him/her in any way, or creating a fake account impersonating someone to send/ post aforementioned contents.

Evidenceis the only marked difference between physical bullying and cyber bullying as pointed out by UNICEF.Cyber bullying leaves behind shreds of evidence like voice notes, fingerprints, or texts, which acts as easy first-hand clues in the investigation of the same.United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) opined that in contrast to cyber-stalking and online. Harassment.

Author: jageshwar pateriya,
jagran lakecity university/student

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