The government could soon implement a new provision to start news and content filtering on the internet. The plan is part of the broader attempt to monitor and regulate online platforms.
The draft bill for the Telecommunication Act 2079 will vest the right to content filtering in Nepal Telecommunication Authority. This will enable the government to decide which material floats online or should be there for public consumption.
Section 21 of Chapter 4 of the Act holds that the government can control telecommunication services and systems in Nepal under the prerogative of the Government of Nepal.
The government preparing for Internet content filtering in Nepal
According to the provision, the government could temporarily assume control of telecommunication lines and systems connected, operated, or maintained by the license holder in the event of a crisis. The government might resort to the action if it finds news, information, and audio-visual in need of control.
Additionally, sub-section (1) (b) holds that an order can be issued to prohibit the exchange of information, news, and audio-visuals that contradicts national security, national integrity, sovereignty, public policy, morality, goodwill, morality, and security.
The bill mentions that the government will return to an institution after the crisis event is over. However, it hasn’t been specified exactly which type of content would be treated as a “crisis”.
The idea of content filtering has drawn criticism in the past. It has been seen as the government’s attempt to curb freedom of expression. At present, the Press Council of Nepal has been regulating licensed media houses in Nepal.
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