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Information Technology Bill: All that you need to know

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The bill includes detailed provisions on legal recognition of electronic records, electronic signature, protection and confidentiality of information, domain registration and management, public e-service, digital signature, provisions related to social media, information technology court, national information technology centre.

On Thursday, government tabled Information Technology Bill in the House of Representatives causing yet another outrage among people. Some provisions of the bill have created fear and suspicion among people. Critics are worried about possible abuse of this law by government and its authorities to deliberately incapacitate free speech of people.

What is this Bill about?

Ministry of Communication and Information Technology prepared and tabled the bill in parliament with an objective to have legal provision for the development of information technology, to promote, monitor and regulate it, maintain cyber security, control cyber crime and regulate the usage of social media in the country. Upon approval by the Federal Parliament, the bill will shape as an Act, replacing the existing Electronic Transaction Act, 2063.

What does this bill include?

This bill includes detailed provisions on legal recognition of electronic records, electronic signature, protection and confidentiality of information, domain registration and management, public e-service, digital signature, provisions related to social media, information technology court, national information technology centre.

What’s all the fuss about?

However, the major debate is on the provision related to Social Media. Clause 91 of the bill makes it mandatory for social networking sites like Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and others alike to register themselves in the country. They also need to open their office in the country and abide by its laws, rules and regulations. If not, government holds the authority and power to ban them.

Some provisions of the bill are ambiguous. For instance, Clause 94 restricts anyone from posting improper contents on social media. Clause 96 of the Bill permits government and its authorities to impose penalty of up to 15 Lakhs and up to 5 years of imprisonment for posting such improper contents on social networking sites. But what exactly constitute that “improper contents”? The definition is vague and can be misused by the government to target its critics. If the bill is passed as it is, there is an actual threat of government being more authoritarian and despotic.

Should we be worried if the bill passes?

After all this outrage, there is slim chance of Federal Parliament endorsing it without making necessary amendments. Our Constitution guarantees Freedom of Opinion and Expression under Article 17 (2) (a) as a Fundamental Right of the citizen. Nepal is one of the signatories of the UDHR and holds the compulsive responsibility to implement it. To guarantee Right to Freedom of Speech is binding for the government as it is a vital part of Customary International Law.

The bill hence, cannot snatch away that liberty from us. But by tabling it in the parliament, the Oli-led government has once more indulged itself into a nasty controversy. The damage has been done. What they’ll do to reconcile is all that matters.

Read or download the Bill from here. 

 

Samir Kulung Rai is an undergraduate Law student & a contributor to the Kaagmandu Magazine, covering law, politics and society.

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Knowledge & Infos

What’s Special Today: January 22nd

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What had happened on this date

1905

Bloody Sunday in Saint Petersburg, beginning of the 1905 revolution.

1927

The first live radio commentary of a football match anywhere in the world, between Arsenal F.C. and Sheffield United at Highbury.

1944

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World War II: The Allies commence Operation Shingle, an assault on Anzio and Nettuno, Italy.

1968

Image result for first Lunar module

Apollo 5 lifts off carrying the first Lunar module into space.

1970

The Boeing 747, the world’s first “jumbo jet”, enters commercial service with its maiden voyage from John F. Kennedy International Airport to London Heathrow Airport.

1984

The Apple Macintosh, the first consumer computer to popularize the computer mouse and the graphical user interface, is introduced during a Super Bowl XVIII television commercial.

1992

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Space Shuttle program: the space shuttle Discovery launches on STS-42 carrying Dr. Roberta Bondar, who becomes the first Canadian woman and the first neurologist in space.

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Logic
January 22, 1990

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January 22, 1959

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Knowledge & Infos

What’s Special Today: January 21st

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on

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1789

The first American novel, The Power of Sympathy or the Triumph of Nature Founded in Truth by William Hill Brown, is printed in Boston.

1911

1959 Monte Carlo Rally

The first Monte Carlo Rally takes place.

1954

Nautilus (SSN 571) Groton CT 2002 May 08.jpg

The first nuclear-powered submarine, the USS Nautilus, is launched in Groton, Connecticut.

1960

Little Joe 1B, a Mercury spacecraft, lifts off from Wallops Island, Virginia with Miss Sam, a female rhesus monkey on board.

1981

Delorean DMC-12 side.jpg

Production of the iconic DeLorean sports car begins in Dunmurry, Northern Ireland, United Kingdom.

2017

Over 400 cities across America and 160+ countries worldwide participate in a large-scale women’s march, on Donald Trump’s first full day as President of the United States.

2018

Rocket Lab’s Electron becomes the first rocket to reach orbit using an electric pump-fed engine and deploys three CubeSats.

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January 21, 1953

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 January 21, 1994 

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January 21, 1905

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on

What had happened on this date

1783

The Kingdom of Great Britain signed preliminary articles of peace with France, setting the stage to the official end of hostilities in the American Revolutionary War later that year.

1929

The first full-length talking motion picture filmed outdoors, In Old Arizona, is released.

1942

Wannsee Conference

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1972

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Pakistan launched its nuclear weapons program, a few weeks after its defeat in the Bangladesh Liberation War, as well as the Indo-Pakistani War of 1971.

2009

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2017

Donald Trump is inaugurated as the 45th President of the United States of America, becoming the oldest person to assume the office.

 

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January 20, 1960
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