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  • Sana S Khan

Cyberbullying Laws: Challenges, Gaps, and Opportunities for Improvement

Written by : Sana S Khan , B.A.LL.B (1st Year ), Lovely Professional University

What is Cyberbullying ?


Cyberbullying is the bullying that takes place on online platforms. Cyberbullying tends to harass, bully, target, and defame the victims on online platforms. Cyberbullying can manifest in various forms such as cyberstalking, harassment, denigration and many more. Cyberbullying is growing evil on online platforms. The victims of cyberbullying may face many challenges such as mental health issues and questioning of self worth.This can lead to consequences such as low self esteem and confidence and much more serious consequences such as mental health disorders which may result in various critical issues to physical and mental wellbeing. Therefore cyberbullying should not be taken lightly as it has multitudinous consequences in a victims daily life. That is why it is crucial to make sure that cyberbullies face consequences for their actions to put shackles to  the continuing cycle of cyberbullying. It is important to have a safe space in the digital world especially in the digital era.


Types of Cyberbullying


Harassment: Repeated sending of unwanted,offensive and impudent messages to a group or an individual


Flaming: Fights or arguments  that take place in online platforms where individuals exchange hostile and aggressive messages. Which can escalate into much more serious things like threats and insults


Exclusion: When an individual is deliberately left out from social media groups and other online gathering platforms. Isolating of one individual from groups and online platforms


Outing and Doxxing: Outing is sharing of someone's personal and sensitive information without their consent, it can be photos,messages etc. Doxxing is much more serious in nature as it is leaking crucial personal information such as phone number, address and many more.


Impersonation: Impersonating as someone else by creating fake accounts under another person's name and details. This can result and spreading fake informations which ultimately results in destruction of the individual's reputation


Cyberstalking: Unwanted and persistent monitoring of someone`s online platforms. This can be tracking and monitoring someones online activity and social media profiles


Masquerading: This is when someone befriends someone only on the intention to know about them and then later betray and humiliate them


Denigration: Spreading false statements, messages, rumours,gossip about someone online. This can include posting photos, videos, comments to shame, publicly ridicule and humiliate someone online.


Catfishing: Creating fake accounts and getting into relationships under fake personas which results in the manipulation and exploitation of the victim.


WHO/Europe released the second volume of the Health Behaviour in School-aged Children (HBSC) study; the latest data from 2018 to 2022 shows a concerning increase in cyberbullying, with boys cyberbullying others rising from 11% to 14% and girls from 7% to 9%. Similarly, reports of being cyberbullied have escalated from 12% to 15% for boys and from 13% to 16% for girls.


Legal perspectives of Cyber bullying


Cyberbullying is the various types of bullying that takes place on online platforms. The legal actions that has been taken to tackle the evil of cyberbullying are;


Section 67 of Information Technology Act 2000: Punishment for publishing or transmitting obscene materials

Section 67A of Information Technology Act 2000: Publishing or transmitting sexually explicit material in electronic form

Section 509 of Indian Penal Code : words,gesture,act intended intrude the modesty of a woman

Section 499 of Indian Penal Code : sending defamatory messages through email

Section 292A:Printing, selling, advertising grossly indecent or scurrilous matter or matter intended for blackmail

Section 354D: Stalking

Section 354 A: Guilty of sexual harassment

Section 66 E of Information Technology Act 2000: Violation of privacy

Section 507: Criminal intimidation by anonymous communication


Even though there isn't a specific law for combating cyber bullying there are laws that will protect the rights of the cyber bully victims. As technology is growing day by day there is an imminent need for new laws for the protection of rights of individuals in the digital world. Still there are many cyberbullying victims who do not report their incidents hoping for betterment on their own or are unaware of the ways that they can seek justice.


Prevention of cyberbullying


The best way for prevention  of cyberbullying is through awareness and teaching young growing minds the negative and dangerous effects of cyberbullying and bullying overall. Teaching and making people aware about the consequences of their actions in a masked persona on online platforms have real and impacting negative results on real human beings and their emotional and physical wellbeing. By creating awareness and teaching people about the actuality of cyberbullying, that its not a screen that your words and actions are affecting and that there is a real human beings behind the screens.There are many ways to create awareness about cyberbullying such as; awareness campaigns, programs, posts, and writings and sharing real life experiences. There are many organisations for the support of cyberbully victims such as; Cyberbullying Research Centre (CRC),Cybersmile foundation,Stomp Out Bullying, Ditch the label, Student\Child helpline numbers, and many more. Cyberbullying can be prevented by creating more anti-cyberbullying laws.


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