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What is Cyber Bullying or Anti-Bullying Laws in India

Cyberbullying happens when someone threatens, harasses or embarrasses the victim using technology by digital device. Cyberbullying is done by teens and adolescents. There have been cyberbullying laws enacted in India to punish the offenders and protect the victims and they are known as Anti bullying laws. Other than these laws one must also take certain steps to deal with bullies.
Written by:
Mehak Sharma
Published on
28-Sep-19

How many times we have heard that someone made a fake profile of somebody and sent derogatory and vulgar messages, well it is just an instance of cyberbullying or anti-bullying. Cyberbullying was the first time dealt as an issue by the Supreme Court in the landmark case of Vishaka vs. the State of Rajasthan. In this while dealing with the issue of bullying guidelines to protect women from sexual harassment was laid down by the Supreme Court. 

Cyberbullying means the bullying which is done through digital devices such as mobiles, computers/laptops or tablets via instant messaging, SMS, online social media platforms or any online groups where people can share and exchange messages. Sending, sharing or posting mean, harmful or false information about someone defines bullying. Cyberbullying is a criminal offense. 

What is Cyber bullying or Anti-bullying?

To define bullying the most acceptable definition of cyberbullying which has been used is “an aggressive, intentional act or behavior that is carried out by a group or an individual, using electronic forms of contact, repeatedly and over-time against a victim who cannot easily defend him or herself.” There have been variations to this definition explaining the meaning of bullying but cybercrime experts have accepted this definition.

Bullying can happen online as well as offline such as when brat students resort to bullying in schools and torture innocent students. When the bullying happens online with the help of technology it is cyberbullying. Cyberbullying in India includes sharing private or personal information about someone which can cause embarrassment to the person. 

Place of occurrence of cyberbullying are as follows : 

  • Social Media ( Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, Twitter, etc.)

  • SMS (text messages from the cellular network)

  • Instant Message Services (Whatsapp, Facebook messenger, I message, etc.)

  • Email

Cyberbullying can be done in different forms over the various online platform, some of the cyberbullying examples are given below for a better understanding of what is cyberbullying or anti-bullying: 

  • Humiliating/embarrassing content posted online about the victim of online bullying,

  • Hacking of account

  • Posting vulgar messages

  • Threatening the victim to commit an act of violence

  • Stalking

  • Child pornography or threats of child pornography

Online bullying or cyberbullying is distinct from the traditional form of bullying in the way that in cyberbullying the victim is not aware of the identity of the bully. Effects of bullying are wide and long-lasting as the effects of bullying are long-lasting as it affects the mental well being of the victim of cyberbullying.

 

Facts of Cyberbullying

Statistics of cyberbullying which helps in discovering that bullying in schools kids is at the majority. To understand what is cyberbullying and how to stop bullying first let's get to know some facts of the cyberbullying:

  • 1 in 4 kids have been bullied more than once and in total 43% of the kids have fallen prey to cyberbullying or anti-bullying

  • India ranks at number 3 in the list of online bullying cases as per the survey conducted by Microsoft in 2012 in 25 countries

  • 70% of the cyberbullying or anti-bullying activities happen over facebook

  • Usage of mobile phones by almost 80% of the teens makes it a common and most popular medium for anti-bullying 

  • It has been believed by the 81% of youth that getting away with online bullying is easy as compared to traditional bullying

  • 90% of teens agree that have ignored the cyberbullying while some of the youth has taken a step to stop bullying

  • Girls are more preferred victims of cyberbullying as compared to boys

  • Victims of cyberbullying or anti-bullying are 2 to 9 times more prone to committing suicide

Cyberbullying vs Cyberstalking

There is no much difference between the offense of cyberbullying and cyberstalking both relates to cyber harassment. The difference between the two kinds of offense is the age of the offender or the perpetrator of the crime. Cyberbullying or anti-bullying is an offense done by the adolescent but when the same is done by a major it is known as cyberstalking.  Legally, there is no difference between the two other than the age of the offender thus cyberstalking is a form of cyberbullying only.

Cyberbullying laws in India

To have an understanding of cyberbullying laws in India it is necessary to what is the meaning of bullying and what is cyberbullying in India. 

Bullying means inflicting physical or physiological pain and hurt in a systematic way to distress the victim which are mostly students and employees. And when the bullying is done online it is known as anti-bullying or cyberbullying.  Cyberbullying in the office by the colleagues also comes under the harassment at the workplace in India. With the popularity of the internet in the youth, it is mostly teens who are the perpetrators as well as the victims of anti-bullying or cyberbullying and thus school bullying is very common. 

There is no specific legislation that provides for the specific cyberbullying laws in India however provisions such as Section 67 of the Information Technology Act deals with cyberbullying in a way. Section 67 of the act prescribes punishment for publishing or transmitting obscene material in electronic form for a term which may extend to five years and also with fine which may extend to ten lakh rupees.

Other than Section 67 of the IT Act following are the provisions of the cyberbullying laws in India:

  • Section 507  IPC The section states that if anyone receives criminal intimidation by way of an anonymous communication then the person giving threats shall be punished with imprisonment for up to two years. By virtue of word anonymous the offense of anti-bullying and cyberbullying is included in this section.

  • Section 66 E of IT Act - The section prescribes punishment for violation of privacy. The section states that any person who intentionally violates the privacy by transmitting, capturing or publishing private pictures of others shall be punished with up to three years imprisonment or fine up to three lakhs.

To protect yourself from cybercriminals consult the top cyber crime lawyers.

Anti-bullying or Cyberbullying laws in India for bullying in Schools and Colleges

To deal with bullying at school there is no separate legislation in India but there is a dire need to stop bullying.  Bullying in schools and especially in boarding schools is largely prevalent in India. To stop bullying in schools HRD ministry has also launched anti-ragging committees in schools to punish students involved in the anti-bullying activities. The punishment can be up to rustication of the student in the rare of the rarest case.

Similarly, the University Grants Commission (UGC) has also established anti-ragging committees in the UGC approved colleges and universities. UGC further said that the colleges and universities are mandated to follow the anti-ragging rules and if they fail to comply with the rules of anti-ragging UGC can forfeit their recognition.  To stop bullying at the higher education level (colleges and universities) “UGC Regulations on Curbing the Menace of Ragging in Higher Education Institutions, 2009” has been enacted. 

Additionally, a college student who is the offender of cyberbullying can also be made criminally liable under the provisions of the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973.  But no provision of either the Indian Penal Code or Code of Criminal Procedure applies to the school students for bullying at school.

Now the question is why are school students exempted from penal provisions for anti-bullying or cyberbullying? The reason behind this is that students studying in schools are juveniles and juveniles in our country are treated differently under the Juvenile Justice Act. To have a clear understanding of the meaning of bullying and how to stop bullying connect to good cyber crime lawyers.

How to Stop Bullying?

With the instances of anti-bullying increasing on a daily basis at a growing rate there is a need to stop cyberbullying. To stop bullying one has to take certain measures or steps while dealing with things online so that he/she is prepared to be safeguarded against the bullies. 

Following are the steps that one can take to stop bullying :  

  • Do not respond or retaliate - Sometimes all the perpetrators are looking for is a reaction as according to them by responding to them you are giving them power over and you and if you don’t respond or retaliate you are in fact curbing their power. The best way is to disconnect yourself from this situation or distract the person who is bullying you. If the problem persists you can consult the famous cyber crime lawyers and the law enforcement agencies for your protection.

  • Keep the evidence save - In the cases of cyberbullying the only positive aspect for the victim is that they can capture and save the evidence of cyberbullying and can show the same for proving that they have fallen prey to the offense of cyberbullying. It becomes important to keep all the pieces of evidence such as messages, posts, comments saved. Additionally, you can also contact the concerned authority against cyber bullying. For instance, if somebody is harassing you on facebook you can either report or block the person or can even contact the facebook authorities regarding the same.  Many websites have a no-tolerance policy and if your complaint against them they will take it down.

  • Reach out for help - When the bully is not stopping and is continuously bullying you reach out to the best cyber crime lawyers for help. They will not only advise you but will help you in the entire procedure and will get out of the situation of cyberbullying. They will listen to you, process your situation, help and assist you to work through it.

  • Use technology - Most social media apps provide the option of either reporting a person or blocking a person who has been harassing you. This might not end the problem instantly but when the bully founds out that he has been blocked or reported he might end it.

  • Protect your account safe- Never share your passwords, anyone? Sounds familiar? To stop bullying do not give passwords to anyone not even to your closest friends. Always keep your phones and accounts password protected and do not let anybody to snoop through your sensitive information.

  • Keep your social profile and interaction safe - Social media presence has become the part and parcel of everybody’s life but while posting and interacting with people on social platforms keep following things in mind -

  • Be always mindful of what you post. Being kind to others online will help to keep you safe. Do not share anything that could hurt or embarrass anyone. 

  • Think about who sees what you post online. Complete strangers? Friends? Friends of friends? Privacy settings let you control who sees what. Your privacy is in your hand choose your privacy settings wisely.

  • Do not open emails from sources you do not know and do not download attachments unless you are expecting an attachment from someone. 

  • Stop downloading free media from downloading software that is not legally approved and therefore, not regulated. 

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