Don't fear the Trolls! Know the Laws that can protect you against Trolling


August 01, 2018
By Advocate Chikirsha Mohanty



Trolls are all around the internet. Created intentionally just for fun, trolls can be really troublesome. Every day there are endless instances of people being trolled for no rhyme or reason on the social media. Be it celebrities, politicians or any other person, no one can get away with the trolls but it is important to know how you can tackle the trolls legally!

Remember the episode of the chat show “Koffee with Karan” where Alia Bhatt said that Prithviraj Chauhan is the Prime Minister of India? Her one wrong answer flooded the social media with countless memes and jokes on her. No matter how funny it was for the nation, but Alia had a hard time.

Anushka Sharma, the Bollywood actress, has been trolled several times for being accountable for Virat Kohli’s bad performance on the cricket field. The Bollywood celebrity, Lisa Haydon, has also been trolled with abusive and disgusting comments for her platinum blonde tresses, underwater photo with her 1-year-old son and her breastfeeding pictures.
 


Who are Internet Trolls?

Trolls are basically those people who post abusive and controversial remarks or comments on the social media and other platforms just to bother other people. Such remarks or comments are posted on social media or elsewhere by the trolls with the sole malicious intention to hurt the sentiments and feelings of others and provoke an angry reaction. Their messages are such that have the capacity to take everyone’s attention from the main subject matter to their abusive, illicit or controversial comments/remarks.

Trolls can go to any extent from sending abusive and obscene messages, personal attacks and comments about your family, children, and friends to even sending death threats. The maximum trolling happens on social networking sites such as Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, blogs, email, YouTube videos, and forums.

Trolls have the ability to demean the overall quality of online discussion or debate and persuade people to believe them. Due to such an extreme level of online trolling these days, some websites have been forced to turn off the option to comment on their articles/posts to discourage trolling. 
In many cases, trolling occurs when people voice their opinion against anything on social media but at times there can always be situations where you are trolled for no rhyme or reason.



Is trolling punishable?

Though there is no specific law that directly addresses this growing concern but Indian laws such as Indian Penal Code (IPC), 1860 and Information Technology (Amendment) Act (IT Act), 2008 account for making trolling a criminal act and punishable by the law. You must know what needs to be done incase you're cyber-bullied. Here are the laws that can help you fight against the online bullies:


Information Technology Act (IT Act)

 
  • Violation of Privacy –It punishes anyone who ‘intentionally’ or knowingly captures, publishes or transfers the image of a private area of any person without his/her consent violating the privacy of a person under Section 66E IT Act. Therefore, if someone takes a photograph, or records a video, publishes or transfers such picture/video of your private area without your permission, then that person is liable to be punished with imprisonment up to 3 years and a fine of Rs. 2 lakh.

  • Publishing Sexually Offensive Material on the Internet –If any person publishes in electronic medium any offensive sexual content on the internet, he or she can be jailed for up to 3 years with a fine of Rs.10 lakh under Section 67 IT Act. A repeat offender can be punished with 7 years of imprisonment with the same fine.  
     

Indian Penal Code (IPC)

 
  • Sexual Harassment – When lewd comments are posted by a person on social media, they are liable under Section 354A IPC and can be punished with one-year imprisonment and fine. It also includes posting or messaging pornographic content against the will of a woman and demanding or requesting sexual favours which are punishable with three-year imprisonment and/or fine.

  • Voyeurism – If any person watches or captures an image of a woman during a private act and publishes those images/videos etc., then legal action can be taken against that person under Section 354C IPC. Private acts may include a picture of the naked woman, using a washroom or a woman indulging in sexual acts.

  • Online Stalking – If a person tries to contact a woman and foster personal interaction despite her disinterest and monitors her through internet, email or through any other electronic communication, he is liable for the offence of stalking under Section 354D and to be punished imprisonment up to three years with fine. If such an instance continues, the repeat offender would be punished for five years imprisonment with fine.

  • Outraging the modesty of a Woman – a person who blatantly posts sexual remarks or pictures or videos filled with sexual suggestions on social media or any gesture or object that a woman can see is liable to be punished under Section 509 IPC with punishment to three years jail along with fine.

  • Defamation – Though defamation is generally used in high-profile cases, however, if any person intentionally uses any words, signs or visible representations, or publishes anything only to harm your reputation, he/she can be punished with defamation under Section 499 IPC. Remarks on social media, obscene images or videos posted for public view are also covered under this offence.

  • Criminal intimidation– Any person who threatens a woman with an intention to harm her and conceals his/her identity by taking precaution can be jailed for up to two years under Section 507 IPC. This is very helpful and effective in dealing with the online trolls or threats of rape as a complaint can be filed against the harasser without knowing his or her identity.


If you are trolled, you can definitely take legal recourse with the help of a good lawyer.

Trolling is the new generation cybercrime and trolls are the new generation of criminals on the internet who gets great sadistic pleasure to spread this online crime of hatred. Don’t ignore the trolls, fight against them. Don’t fear them; put the trolls behind the bars!

 
 


 

These guides are not legal advice, nor a substitute for a lawyer
These articles are provided freely as general guides. While we do our best to make sure these guides are helpful, we do not give any guarantee that they are accurate or appropriate to your situation, or take any responsibility for any loss their use might cause you. Do not rely on information provided here without seeking experienced legal advice first. If in doubt, please always consult a lawyer.


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