Free operation of social media poses threat to combat cybercrime: Police
By Purushottam P. Khatri
Kathmandu, Feb. 27: Absence of a provision to register the social media operating freely in Nepal has posed a serious challenge to combat and investigate the incidents of cybercrime and giving timely justice to the victims.
“Nepal at present is without any registered contact office of social media, and in the absence of this, we are facing difficulty in conducting proper investigation into cybercrimes,” Senior Superintendent of Police (SSP) Uttam Raj Subedi said.
In absence of a specific act to make it compulsory for social media operators to get them registered at least its contact office in Nepal, police are finding it difficult to settle many serious incidents of cybercrime, he said.
As of today, Nepal is one of the countries which don’t require any prior approval to operate any social media outlet like Facebook, Twitter, Viber, Youtube, Instagram, Tumbler and LinkedIn and many others.
Both the Houses of the Federal Parliament recently passed the Information Technology Bill that envisioned regulation of freely operating social media in Nepal. The Bill will now provide a clear direction specifying the rights and mandate to investigate into all cybercrime related cases to the Nepal Police, SSP Subedi said.
“But there is still a constraint facing Nepal Police that all the police units across the country couldn’t register any cybercrime related incident outside the Kathmandu Valley. Today, hearings of all cybercrime cases are done only in the Kathmandu District Court,” he said.
Likewise, only the Kathmandu Valley’s Metropolitan Police Range, the Central Investigation Bureau (CIB) and the Metropolitan Police Crime Division (MPCD) have the rights to file and prepare the cybercrime cases and submit them at the Kathmandu District Court.
“All the cybercrime victims have to come to the Capital to register their complaints as of today,” SSP Subedi said.
According to him, the new Information Technology Act which is coming into effect soon has provisioned up to 10-year imprisonment for misusing the social media.
Nepal Police till today has been looking the cybercrime cases under the Electronic Transactions Act-2008.
Eleven Clauses, from 44 to 54, of the Act have provisioned cybercrime as punishable act with fines and jail term of maximum three years.
According to Subedi, majority of the cases today are linked in one or another way to the cyber or internet cases.
Lately, the Police Headquarters has also set up a separate Central Cyber Bureau (CCB) to address the intensity and seriousness of the cases as the cybercrime related incidents have been on rise every year, said SSP Subedi. The Bureau is under the command of Deputy Inspector General (DIG).
DIG and Metropolitan Police Commissioner’s Office Ranipokhari chief Shailesh Thapa Chhetri said that Nepal Police normally have been registering complaints related to the cybercrime like posting nude photographs/videos and character assassination in Facebook and other social media, libel and slander charges, defaming Head of the Government and State by posting irrelevant matters and photographs.
The Kathmandu Valley police also registered cases of false news and information posting by non-registered online news portals, sexual abuses by posting nude photos of the victims, and privacy divulge and creation of false social media accounts, DIG Thapa said.
According to the Nepal Police record of cybercrime of the last fiscal year 2074/75, it had assisted 1,482 people who were victimised.
In the current fiscal year, the Headquarters has already registered 75 cases of cybercrime, mostly abusing the Facebook, Twitter and Viber, said SSP Subedi.
Out of a total 101 cybercrime cases registered by the Kathmandu Police and the CIB in the last fiscal year, it had filed 81 cases of cybercrime (Facebook, Twitter and Viber) at the Kathmandu District Court through the office of the Government Attorney.
Likewise, the Kathmandu Police has alone registered 82 cybercrime cases as of February 12, 2019 of the current fiscal year and investigation has been undergoing into other cases. The number has doubled from the last fiscal year of the same month, said SSP Subedi.