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Expect ‘gaslighting’ and ‘catfishing’ to be offences under upcoming Digital India Bill

Bringing in a law that addresses modern harms in the internet space is currently on the agenda of the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MeitY).

Cyberbullying of children, identity theft, gaslighting, doxxing, impersonation and catfishing are some of the online offences likely to be penalized in the upcoming Digital India Bill, according to a report by the Indian Express. Bringing in a law that addresses modern harms in the internet space is currently on the agenda of the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MeitY). While cyberbullying and identity theft are commonly discussed cybercrimes, catfishing is a term mainly related to the online dating world, wherein a user creates a false identity or a deceptive persona on a platform to convince another user into forming a relationship with them. Impersonation means stealing someone’s profile picture and creating a fake account under their name, similar to identity theft. Gaslighting in an online platform essentially means misleading someone and making them question their own understanding or instincts. Doxxing refers to the act of revealing someone’s identifiable information on the internet with malicious intentions. The said law is meant to replace the Information Technology Act 2000, established during the pre-social media era and caters mainly to real-world offences. According to the Indian Express report, the government has reached out to more than 200 young people and parents to deliberate upon the nature of these harms. The ministry is also planning to make clear distinctions between various online intermediaries such as social media, e-commerce sites, fact-checking and AI-based platforms in the Digital India Bill. It is also likely to introduce a separate regulator for the digital space, which will…

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Curious about privacy, surveillance developments and the intersection of technology with education, caste and welfare rights. Outside work, I am either reading, reflecting on my notepad, re-tuning my voice or just overthinking!

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