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Nepali Committee passes controversial IT Bill that ‘curtails freedom of expression’

The Development and Technology Committee of the Nepal's House of Representatives, the Lower House of the nation's Parliament, on December 30, 2019, passed the Information Technology Bill, reported The Himalayan Times. This, despite opposition lawmakers from the Nepalese Congress (NC), raising concerns that the Bill might curtail people’s freedom of expression. The Bill reportedly penalises communication over e-mails which violates its provisions. Local incorporation: The Bill, which will now be introduced in the House of Representatives, requires all domestic and foreign social media companies, including Youtube, Facebook, Twitter, Whatsapp, Instagram and Tiktok, operating in Nepal to register themselves in the country, “within a given period”, failing which they might be banned, according to ICT Frame, a Nepal-based online magazine that covers the country's information and communication technology industry. However, NC lawmakers said that the purpose behind mandating social media companies to register in Nepal is “unclear”, per the report. Mandates take down of "offensive" content: The Bill reportedly allows the government to order social media companies to remove or censor content which is “offensive under the law” without a court order, without defining what a social media site is. This might reportedly allow it to define it “according to its liking,” and give the government an “unfair advantage” in silencing people who express discontent on such platforms. IT Courts to deal with issues related to the Bill: An information technology court will also be established in each province under the chairmanship of the district judge to look into issues regarding the…

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