March 26, Kathmandu. The report of the controversial bill made to make provision regarding information technology is to be submitted to the House of Representatives.
Fifteen months after it was passed by the parliamentary committee, the report of the bill will be tabled in the House of Representatives on Thursday.
On 13 December 2076, the Development and Technology Committee of the Parliament passed the Information Technology Bill by a majority, despite the dissenting views of the main opposition Nepali Congress. As soon as the bill was passed by the committee, Nepali Congress chief whip Bal Krishna Khand issued a statement demanding to amend the bill.
However, the report of the bill that is about to be tabled in the parliament does not include the dissenting opinion of the Congress.
‘What is passed by the committee is submitted to the parliament. If it is corrected, there will be a debate in the House, ‘said Kalyani Kumari Khadka, chairperson of the Development and Technology Committee.
The Congress is also going to raise its dissenting opinion on the bill in the House. ‘The report of the bill will be tabled in the House. We will put our case by participating in the general discussion on that, ‘Congress MP Ram Bahadur Bista told online news.
When the bill was passed by the Development and Technology Committee, MP Bista and another MP Rangmati Shahi had different views on behalf of the Nepali Congress.
According to Bista, the freedom of thought and expression of the people will be frustrated and fundamental rights will be violated if the bill passed by the committee as well as the House of Representatives is passed.
What are the laws?
The report of the bill states that it is prohibited to disseminate on social media the subject of teasing, humiliating, inciting hatred or hate, character assassination or insulting a person. Otherwise, there is a strict provision of imprisonment for five years and a fine of up to Rs 1.5 million.
In a bill registered by the government in the parliament on 2 February 2075, it was mentioned that such a charge would result in imprisonment for three years or a fine of up to Rs 30,000 or both.
According to the report of the bill, communicating issues that disrupt national unity and independence on social media and teasing someone on social media will result in imprisonment for up to five years and a fine of up to Rs 1.5 million. Provision has been made for the government to instruct the concerned users to remove the content that kills character and disturbs national independence.
Social network registration is required
Another important issue of this bill is social media registration. Companies related to social media including Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc. should register in Nepal if the bill becomes law as it is passed.
Article 91 of the bill states that a person wishing to register a social network must do so in accordance with this Act. “The Government of Nepal may prohibit the use of unregistered social media,” Subsection 3 reads.
It is mentioned that one should apply to the Department of Information Technology for registration of social media. Registration must be renewed every year. The government had proposed to renew the bill every two years. But the committee has dropped it in one year.
Similarly, the bill also provides for prior permission to use the software. According to the bill, prior permission from the Ministry of Communications and Information Technology is required to use the software.
Article 81 of the bill stipulates that prior permission must be obtained from the Ministry (Information and Communication Technology) before using any such software, electronic system or equipment used for the purpose of studying or providing information on software, electronic system or electronic equipment.
It has been said that the person concerned should submit an application to the Ministry clearly stating what kind of equipment, for what purpose and the time period he is trying to use.
Congress has a different opinion
The main opposition Congress has different views on various points in the report of the bill prepared to tighten the social media users.
The Nepali Congress (NC) has different views on the provisions of imprisonment for five years and fine of up to Rs 1.5 million for spreading the subject of teasing, humiliating, inciting hatred, character assassination or insulting a person on social media.
“These provisions are contrary to the principles of criminal justice and freedom of expression,” the Congress said in a statement submitted to President Kalyani Kumari Khadka.
Similarly, the Congress has taken a different view saying that the purpose of the provision that companies related to social media including Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc. should be registered in Nepal is not clear.
The Congress also has a different opinion on the provision that prior permission should be taken while using the software. The Congress lawmakers are of the view that such a system would be difficult to implement and could be abused.