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Internet Regulatory body in Nepal imposes direct Amendments regarding Pornographic websites

Nepal Government with its regulating body Nepal Telecommunication Authority has issued specific Amendment Proposal on License Agreement between Nepal Telecommunication Authorities and Internet Service Provider’s(ISP). The proposal was forward in a very authoritative way where the notice was forwarded to the Internet service providers for blocking the listed website and to use filter software without doing any consultation with the private sector. The ISPs with the pressure of government trying to manipulate and direct the web sites has been in a dilemma of the action. In this regards the Internet Service Provider Association of Nepal[ISPAN] said, "The new amendments of NTA are controversial in every aspect as using filter software are very expensive and there are around 40 ISPs operational in Nepal where the cost factor is a big hindrance. It is indeed a good step toward making policy firm but with the limited resources and lack of definition of obscenity and proper mechanism, it certainly holds controversies".

The notice issued by the NTA is give below

Amendment Proposal on License Agreement between Nepal Telecommunication Authorities and Internet Service Provider's

Terms and conditions to be followed while uploading the content accessible to general public through the internet on worldwide web and ensuring access to the content available on worldwide web:

1. The Service Provider shall install Filtering Software; make other arrangements and work towards stopping access to its subscriber over the content that is punishable under s.47 of Electronic Transaction Act, 2007.

2. The Service Provider shall make arrangement to deny publication, distribute, transmit, Commercial exchange (sale) and consume (use) following content through Internet:

a. Any content whether it be visual, graphics, article or any others which is obscene, seductive, Horror, Highly violent and that corrupts social morals;

b. Any content that encourages religious discord or disturbs public peace [and order?] creating misunderstand among them based on religion, class, sex, cast and community;

c. Any content which is against National interest, Fundamental political principle, values and belief determined by the state, preservation consolidation of national integrity, national security and obstruct public security including content that creates whim to general public.

3. The service providers shall enter into such a contract with its subscriber that compels its subscriber to abide by aforementioned terms of this license agreement.

4. ISP shall inform NTA about blocking of website which is ordered by Nepal Government and NTA in writing to block the website time to time.

Few days back the NTA again issued the list of website to be blocked and it goes like this

- Hide quoted text -

The restriction of the different website by the NTA and the use of Filter software will certainly restricts the freedom of expression over cyberspace and access to Internet and without clear legislative provision will certainly harm the freedom of expression. Being a part of the ISOC Nepal we have been trying to consolidate the step by feasibly trying to manage the scenario and predict the future effects and its consequences on freedom of expression by dialogue and discussion among the different stakeholders. But the government wings seems to be very stiff regarding the issues where in the list seem irrelevant with the mentioned websites. Moreover, the use of the filter software is more controversial in every aspect of restricting upon what needs to be banned and not. Perhaps, the use of the filter software will certainly have a drastic effect as it is a sequence of programs and codes which works on specific direction where the possibility of government autocracy and biasness is a possibility. The government trying to rule in is not a problem but it will affect the access of people and their rights.
Most importantly the government body acting as a regulator rather than being a facilitator is a question which certain is heating up the tension between the private sectors , ISPs and NTA.

Shreedeep Rayamajhi

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