Freedom Forum has been seriously concerned over the recently passed Bylaw of Nepal Telecommunications Authority (NTA). The provision on Rule 12 (L) of the Bylaw warrants serious attention.
The provision states, “Arrangement should be made whereby the service providers are not allowed to receive and disseminate visual, pictures and writing which are obscene and inciting/provocative, stoking social anomalies and threatening the national interests.”
It has further provided the liability to the internet service providers to filter and block the internet contents.
The NTA however has failed to explicitly mention any legal ground upon which the Bylaw is based.
To this, Freedom Forum Executive Chief Taranath Dahal observed, “Once the bylaw is put into practice, the NTA is to censor contents on internet via internet service providers, which undoubtedly puts in risk citizens’ right to freedom of expression, information and privacy. It further erodes internet freedoms, rule of law, and democracy. With this, the ISPs can block and filter internet contents at any time invoking this provision, which is against the fundamental rights of FoE and information and privacy enshrined in the constitution and international instruments of FoE.”
In Nepal, the internet, in recent year, has not only created civic space but also made it vibrant, thereby facilitating people’s FoE and information to hold the State accountable.
With the expansion of internet (internet penetration over 60 percent of population) and use of smart phones, digital civic sphere is expanding in Nepal. Any policy and law to shrink civic space has adverse impact on FoE and information and privacy.
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