The Pratinidhi Sabha has passed the ‘Information Technology (IT) Bill‘ amid heated exchanges with the opposition of Nepali Congress leaders on December 29, 2019.
The bill aims to impose a severe penalty for social media misuse and computer hacking.
1) Posting content on social media sites that may pose a threat to the sovereignty, security, unity or harmony of the country: Fine up to Rs. 1.5 million or jail term up to five years or both
2) Found guilty of cyberbullying: Fine up to Rs. 50,000 or 6-months jail term or both
3) Deleting or interfering with information stored in somebody’s computer: Three (3) years jail term
The bill facilitates the Department of Information Technology with the authority to impose excessive restrictions on social platforms and increase surveillance on personal data.
The tabling of the bill led to a tussle between House of Representatives (HoR) and Nepali Congress lawmakers.
NC member Ram Bahadur Bista said that the bill is against the people’s freedom of expression and opinion.
He exclaimed that the bill is bad for democracy and against the spirit of constitution.
Executive Director of Freedom Forum Taranath Dahal said that the bill has 0-12 clauses that restricted the freedom of expression.
He further expressed his fear that the HoR will try to pass other restrictive bills ignoring the opposition lawmaker’s voice.
“With this bill, the ruling party will have unfair advantage to suppress the voice of people using social media sites to express their dissatisfaction on the governmental works,” he said.
The Nepal IT Bill 2019 will replace the prevailing Electronic Transaction Act, 2006.