Clearing the trash in Cyber Space

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In the earlier post, we discussed what cyberbullying is and why one must raise voice against it. In this article, we shall look at how to deal with cybercrime and online harassment.

The three-fold approach of combating cybercrime and online harassment

  1. Education and awareness

The first step to solving any problem is acknowledging it exists. With this in mind, we have been leveraging our vast network and digital influence to have the important conversations that change attitudes towards acceptable online behaviour. We have started creating engaging content and online learning modules that educate people on digital etiquette, their legal rights and protections. Sometimes as simple as this is okay and this is not okay.

But all said and done, this issue is more deep-rooted than tackling the here and now. We also want to go to the source and begin gender-sensitisation from the primary school level.

  1. Empowerment and accountability

Giving people the tools and resources that to empower themselves so that they feel safe enough to speak up, be heard and fight back is very, very important. Most people choose not to speak because they don’t believe that the system will help them and that it will make any sort of difference. Knowing this, we’ve been empowering women/men to talk about the harassment they face by giving them a platform to share their stories hold perpetrators accountable for their actions so people become aware that there are real consequences to online harassment. Very often this doesn’t even require filing an FIR, simply a phone call warning from the cyber cell serves as a sufficient deterrent.

  1. More effective legislation

In the US House Bill 2/789 was passed by the Texas Senate unanimously and became law on September Ist, 2019. Now, the sending of a lewd photo without the recipient's consent will be a Class C misdemeanour, punishable by a fine of up to $500.

We would like to see similar legislation put into place in India. We want to spark conversation to administer stronger laws and protection. Our internet laws are antiquated and in desperate need of updating to match today’s digital reality.

We want to drive a national campaign for:

  1. Seamless and effective reporting process that allows for immediate action to be taken
  2. Stronger digital laws and online protections
  3. Stricter enforcement against those who violate citizen rights

What is the process to report these trolls?

  1. List all the people you would like to report.
  2. Gather their virtual information to collect evidence for quick action against culprits.
  3. Mention URLs, user names.
  4. Attach screenshots of offensive material/posts/comments/DMs.

You can visit: https://cybercrime.gov.in/ for more information and email IDs to report the crime in the respective cities. The Helpline number is 155260 and it’s functional between 9 AM and 6 PM.

  1. Once your complaint is submitted, you will receive a confirmation message in the portal itself. In case, you have filed a complaint through “Report and Track” option or “Report Other Cybercrime” section available on the portal, you will receive an SMS and an e-mail with a complaint reference number on your registered mobile number and e-mail ID.

Let us now take a look at currently how the various laws under IPC secures punishment against the Cyber Harrassment.

IPC section 354 (courtesy: www.indiacode.nic.in)

Section 354A.   Sexual harassment and punishment for sexual harassment.

(1) A man committing any of the following acts—

(i) physical contact and advances involving unwelcome and explicit sexual overtures; or

(ii) a demand or request for sexual favours; or

(iii) showing pornography against the will of a woman; or

(iv) making sexually coloured remarks, shall be guilty of the offence of sexual harassment.

(2) Any man who commits the offence specified in clause (i) or clause (ii) or clause (iii) of sub-section shall be punished with rigorous imprisonment for a term which may extend to three years, or with fine, or with both.

(3) Any man who commits the offence specified in clause (iv) of sub-section (1) shall be punished with imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to one year, or with fine, or with both.

Online harassment also encompasses sexual harassment which is defined under section 2(n) of the Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition, and Redressal) Act 2013 as

  1. unwelcome
  2. physical contact and advances; or
  3. a demand or request for sexual favours; or
  4. making sexually coloured remarks; or
  5. showing pornography; or
  6. any other unwelcome physical, verbal or non-verbal conduct of sexual nature;

Section 354A.

(1) Any man who--

(i) 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

(ii) monitors the use by a woman of the internet, email or any other form of electronic communication,

commits the offence of stalking:

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

(i) it was pursued for the purpose of preventing or detecting crime and the man accused of stalking had been entrusted with the responsibility of prevention and detection of crime by the State; or

(ii) it was pursued under any law or to comply with any condition or requirement imposed by any person under any law; or

(iii) in particular circumstances such conduct was reasonable and justified.

(2) Whoever commits the offence 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.

In my third and final article on this series, I shall explore how speaking up and taking action is the call of the hour and my efforts to sustenance towards this movement of making Cyber Space safer for everyone.

Part 1 – Have you been Cyber bullied?

Part 2 – Independence on Social Media

Part 3 – Clear the trash in cyber space

Malini Agarwal is the Founder of MissMalini Media. With a rapidly expanding organic readership and a social media reach of over 6 million direct followers, she is considered one of India’s leading digital influencers and a leading authority on digital brand building. Named as India’s most famous blogger by The Huffington Post and Forbes, Malini has been featured in various international titles including BBC World (UK), Reuters, CNN (USA), DW (Germany), TV5(France) and The Globe & Mail (Canada). She is also a regular feature in local publications such as Vogue India, Elle India, Grazia India, Hello! India, India Today and NDTV Profit among many others. Expanding their media network, MissMalini made its foray into television in 2014, introducing the reality entertainment TV series, MissMalini’s World on TLC, and just introduced another celebrity show, Kya Seen Hai @MissMalini on ZOOM.

The views, thoughts, and opinions expressed in the article belong solely to the author.

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