What is Cyber Bullying?
Insulting or threatening someone with the use of digital technologies. It can take place on –
1. Social Media
2. Messaging Platforms
3. Gaming Platforms
4. Mobile Phones etc.
Definition by UNICEF:
Cyberbullying is bullying with the use of digital technologies. It can take place on social media, messaging platforms, gaming platforms, and mobile phones. It is repeated behaviour, aimed at scaring, angering, or shaming those who are targeted. Examples include:
• spreading lies about or posting embarrassing photos or videos of someone on social media
• sending hurtful, abusive, or threatening messages, images, or videos via messaging platforms
• impersonating someone and sending mean messages to others on their behalf or through fake accounts.
Face-to-face bullying and cyberbullying can often happen alongside each other. But cyberbullying leaves a digital footprint – a record that can prove useful and provide evidence to help stop the abuse. (1)
There are many forms of cyber-bullying. The degree and nature of these cyber offenses are also varied. Cyberbullies tend to resort to repeated behavior with intent to humiliate, scare, anger, or shame the targeted victims. Citing some examples of cybercrime and bullying,
• Spreading lies about or posting embarrassing photos of someone on social media;
• Impersonating someone and sending mean messages to others on their behalf;
• Hacking personal accounts again and again;
• Flaming, which is the use of vulgar or insensitive language to attack someone;
• Sending threatening, hurtful, or inappropriate messages to harass someone;
• Sharing someone’s private messages or a picture or threatening/blackmailing to do so;
• Threatening someone to commit an act of violence or threats of pornography;
• Stalking someone and sending targeted messages;
• Child pornography or threats of child pornography, etc. (2)
Are there any laws against cyberbullying?
• The Indian Penal Code, 1860 and the IT, Act, 2000 neither define bullying nor punish it as an offense.
• There are still certain provisions that can be used to punish the perpetrators who commit such offenses.
Section 354 D (2) of the Indian Penal Code – Any man monitors the use by a woman of the internet, email, or any other form of electronic communication, commits the offense of stalking.
Section 66 A of the IT Act – Any person who sends by any means of a computer resource any information that is grossly offensive or has a menacing character; or any information which he knows to be false, but for the purpose of causing annoyance, inconvenience, danger, obstruction, insult shall be punishable with imprisonment for a term which may extend to three years and with fine. This section was struck down by the Supreme Court as it was unconstitutional in the case of Shreya Singhal vs Union of India (3)
Prakhar Sharma vs The State of Madhya Pradesh: (4)
In this case, the accused after creating a fake Facebook account of the victim posted some vulgar messages with the photos of the complainant which he downloaded from her original Facebook account. After enquiry, the police (Cyber Cell) recovered the phone and two SIM cards from the possession of the applicant. The prosecution has confirmed the involvement of the accused by obtaining the I.P. details from Facebook and confirmed the same with the I.P. details from cellular companies. The accused was found guilty under Sec 66 (c), 67, and 67(a)of the IT Act, 2000.
State of West Bengal vs Animesh Boxi (5)
The accused took private and nude photos of the complainant by hacking her phone. The accused then started blackmailing her that if she did not go for an outing with him then he would upload the pictures and videos on the internet and when the complainant disagreed then the accused uploaded the nude pictures and videos of the complainant on a porn site.
The Court held that the convict by uploading the nude pictures and videos of the victim of this case in the virtual world is not only restricted to India but is available all over the world and everyday virtual rape is committed against the victim of this case when someone sees the video in the virtual world. Even for sake, the contents are removed from the virtual world but what will happen if anybody had already downloaded those and again it will spread in the virtual world and it will never end and virtual rape will be committed against the victim till the last day of her life.
The accused was held guilty under Sections 354 D, 509 of the IPC and 66 C, 66 E, 67, and 67 A of the IT Act, 2000
Cyber defamation occurs when a computer connected to the internet is used as a tool, or a medium to defame a person or an entity.
Defamation has been defined under Section 499 of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) as whoever, by words either spoken or intended to be read, or by signs or by visible representations, makes or publishes any imputation concerning any person intending to harm, or knowing or having reason to believe that such imputation will harm, the reputation of such person is said to defame that person.
However, it is to note that the law pertaining to defamation has been extended to Electronic Documents. Section 469 of the IPC – Forgery for the purpose of harming Reputation as been amended by the Information Technology Act, 2000 (IT Act) to include Forged Electronic Records.
The current extract of the section 469 is as under – Whoever commits forgery, intending that the document or electronic record forged] shall harm the reputation of any party, or knowing that it is likely to be used for that purpose, shall be punished with imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to three years, and shall also be liable to fine.
ONLINE REPORTING OF CYBERCRIMES:
3. Shreya Singhal vs Union of India, WRIT PETITION (CRIMINAL) NO.167 OF 2012.
4. Prakhar Sharma vs The State of Madhya Pradesh¸ MCRC-377-2018.
5. State of West Bengal vs Animesh Boxi, GR: 1587/2017.
1. Mr. Arun Sugavaneshvar, Advocate practicing at Madras High Court, with 10 years of experience in Family, IPR, and Property matters.
2. Sarfaras Feroz, 4th Year student of BBA, LLB (Hons) at Saveetha School of Law, SIMATS, Chennai.