Freedom Forum is concerned over the Election Commission’s plan to monitor and regulate the social media contents using Nepal Army and Nepal Police. Although spread of misinformation becomes a serious problem in the election, the mobilization of security persons to regulate social media content is misuse of power, which is likely to trample citizen’s free speech online.
Nepal is holding the elections to federal parliament and provincial assembly coming November 20.
According to the news reports, the Commission is planning to form a monitoring mechanism involving Nepal Police Cyber Bureau, Nepal Army, Advertisement Board, Press Council Nepal, Nepal Telecommunication Authority, and computer operators. The team will be named as ‘Press Office’ and will be responsible to monitor the Nepali media and social media contents as directed by the Election code of conduct.
The concept paper approved by the Commission on Press Office provides it the right to delete any mis/disinformation on digital media and punish anyone who is allegedly found disseminating fake information on the basis of complaints.
Yet again, Freedom Forum reminds the Commission that Press Council Nepal is responsible to monitor and regulate media contents. So, mobilizing security officials to regulate free speech on social media is wrong decision that may suppress citizen’s rights. Seeking consultation and expertise from diverse sectors is positive, but how transparently they work is worth observing.
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