Your Advocate | The Daily Star
12:00 AM, February 27, 2018 / LAST MODIFIED: 12:00 AM, February 27, 2018

Your Advocate

This week Your Advocate is Barrister Omar Khan Joy, Advocate, Supreme Court of Bangladesh. He is the head of the chambers of a renowned law firm, namely, 'Legal Counsel', which has expertise mainly in commercial law, corporate law, family law, employment and labor law, land law, banking law, constitutional law, criminal law, IPR and in conducting litigations before courts of different hierarchies. 

Query

I am a university student. In social media I have been facing a few problems since the very beginning. In the public groups and pages, I often face harassment by unknown users and strangers in the comment sections. I wanted to know if there is any legal solution to my problem.

Shama Anamika (not real name)

Dhaka

 

Response

I am sorry to hear you are facing this kind of harassment. The first step to finding a solution is to understand what the problem is. The situation you are facing is commonly known as cyber bullying. A lot of people are under the notion that bullying, through whatever means, is not of serious consequence to the person being bullied. Let me assure you, and anyone else reading this, that this is not the case. Bullying can often have dire and long lasting consequences or effect on the person being bullied. Therefore, this matter should not in any way be taken lightly.

I will discuss cyber bullying in a broad capacity so that it not only covers the issue which you are having but also covers issues which other people might have. It is first important to understand what cyber bullying actually is. Cyber bullying is one of the aspect of cyber-crimes, whereas cyber-crimes refer to crimes committed in cyber space. In simple terms, cyber bullying is an act done by a person(s) against another person by using electronic communication e.g. by/on social media. A few examples of cyber bullying are, causing someone harm by posting unwanted or private information, threatening a person by sending mean messages via emails, social networking websites, text or audio messages, spreading rumors via email or social networking sites, sharing private/embarrassing pictures, videos websites, creating fake profiles etc.

In Bangladesh, 'being bullied or disturbed online' is an emerging issue and  although like you, most victims are students or young people, anyone can be a victim for example, teachers, employees, employers etc. To be clear, cyber bullying is not just an act to be scorned upon but is an offence punishable under the Information and Communication Technology Act-2006 (the Act).The Act inter alia provides that a person who deliberately publishes,in a website or in electronic form, any material which is fake and obscene or has the effect of corrupting persons who are likely to read, see or hear the material or causes to prejudice the image of a person or may hurt religious belief or instigate against any person, then the person publishing the material will be guilty of an offence under the Act.The punishment for such an offence is imprisonment and fine.

Victims of cyber-crimes (which includes cyber bullying) can lodge a complaint to the Bangladesh Telecommunication Regulatory Commission (BTRC) by calling at +880-29611111 or by emailing at btrc@btrc.gov.bd. BTRC is supposed to take necessary actions within 24 hours and the perpetrators will be brought to justice within 3 days after the complaint is filed. The government has also launched a cyber-crime helpline. Victims can call at +8801766678888 to submit their complaints.

Furthermore, if the harassment amounts to criminal intimidation (threatening another with any injury to his person, reputation, property etc.) as per the Penal Code 1860, then the person may be liable to punishment as per the Penal Code 1860.

The above mentioned steps should definitely be resorted to if the matter is serious enough. However, the first step should be the internal reporting process of the particular social media website or application. If we take Facebook for example, photos and comments can be reported and the particular user can be blocked. Similar reporting systems are in place in most popular social media websites or applications.

I hope this information will be useful to you in finding a solution to your problem.

For detailed query contact: omar@legalcounselbd.com.

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