With the Extensive use of the internet in recent times, one has to realise that same rules apply in the cyberspace as to the real physical world. This implies that the behaviour in which one engages while being on the internet should be the same as we do in the real world. This aspect and general rule also extend itself to the Application of Law in a lot of cases. One can’t take the defence of an action by simply stating that it was done was the internet by implying that the same rules don’t apply. It is extremely important to understand this because of the increasing cases of Violence and Riots occurring because of Social Media posts and Forwarded Messages.

To facilitate the Individuals and Netizens in engaging with a particular platform Responsibly, the platforms, such as Social Media websites, Video Sharing Applications, Blogs etc, set up certain Community guidelines. They are often required by the law to do the same. These community guidelines lay down the kinds of behaviour, which are allowed, and not allowed, on the platform while also explaining the consequences of these actions. These standards might include the following things.

  1. Not sharing photos, videos or any other type of content that is owned by someone else. This often violates the privacy of the other individual and also violates Various copyright Laws if that content is covered by it.
  2. Nudity and pornography, are often not allowed by the platforms unless the laws of a particular state allow them to do so and that platform actively provides information about it. It is, however, important to note that some Social Media websites also have subjective approaches towards the same as Nudity in certain scenarios like Artistic Expressions, Educational Purpose etc. are often allowed.
  3. Promotion of Self Injury and Self Harm is also not allowed on the platforms that are open for public use.
  4. Following the law of the state, in whose Jurisdiction the Individual resides, is of utmost importance. Facilitating any kind of activities and actions that are barred by the law and are illegal such as selling Drugs, Guns or offering sexual services etc, will also be illegal on the platform.

That last part of the community guidelines is much more important when one thinks about it. In the context of India, a lot of actions define how we interact with other people. Various laws govern our speech and expression, our conduct and our interactions, for example the Article 19(2) of Indian Constitution lay down certain restrictions on one’s fundamental right of freedom of speech and expression. One needs to know about such laws as they are equally important in the context of their application in the cyberspace.

  1. Section 153A of Indian Penal Code: This Section states that a person, if found guilty of promoting or attempting to promote the feelings of enmity, hatred or ill will between any groups on the grounds of religion, race, place of birth residence, language etc. by any textual or visual means, they shall be imprisoned for 3 years.

This section aims to promote the peace, harmony and tranquillity amongst the society by setting up a deterrent punishment for anyone who tries to try disrupt it and falls in the ambit. The applicability of this section would also extend to an individual’s Social Media posts and Text Forwards.

  1. Section 295A of Indian Penal Code: this section also embodies the principle of section 153A and the restrictions laid down in Article 19(2) of the Indian Constitution. It lays down the punishment for instigating or doing any malicious acts to outrage the religious beliefs of any society.
  2. Section 463 IPC and Section 66C and 66D of the Information Technology Act: These Sections deal with the acts of Forgery and Impersonation with a malicious intention. Theses sections are often used to punish people who spread fake messages or false information in a false garb and authority of a real organization.

One needs to be extremely careful about what they post online because of the aforementioned criminal liabilities. While this protects the interests of every individual on the platform it also helps in maintaining a sense of peace in society and ensure that everyone lives in Harmony. Responsible online behaviour is not that hard to engage in if one goes through the community guidelines or terms of use the platform or just not do anything which they won’t do in the real world.

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