The internet was created as a revolution that could modernize society and connect the world. Nonetheless, everything has a pessimistic side, and this invention is no exception. The ugly side of the internet is unappealing and disturbing. The internet has changed the world by making it more technologically driven, but its misuse has cost us several lives, wrecking them mentally and physically. Cybercrime is defined as the use of cyberspace for heinous acts. Cyber-stalking, banking fraud, phone phishing, cyberbullying, and other crimes fall into this category. Each nation is affected by this malice. India is no exception; as a technologically enabled nation, it has experienced rapid growth in the cyber world, which has resulted in an increase in cybercrime, one of which is cyberbullying, which is most prevalent among teenagers.
Cyberbullying is the practice of repeatedly or continuously harassing a victim online at various locations such as Instagram, Whatsapp, Facebook, and other social media platforms through direct messaging, chat rooms, online comments, and other means. Sharing, uploading, or sending harmful, disparaging, or negative content about a person are all examples of cyberbullying. Alternatively, disseminating erroneous information about someone else. Serious mental health problems have been caused by this electronic aggression. Due to the prevalence of it among minors, primarily teenagers, the victims endure mental pressure and torment, which often leads them to attempt self-harm or to develop a psychological condition. For the victims of such events, the trauma lasts a lifetime. Problems with such crimes include the underreporting of them due to minors’ reluctance to share harmful information about them, as well as the underestimation of them by parents and teachers, who frequently try to cover up the incident out of concern for their reputation or other societal factors. Therefore, it is essential that young people have a solid understanding of technology and the awareness to use it responsibly. Additionally, minors, parents and all other adults should be aware of these criminal activities that take place in the cyber world and should not undervalue them. To address this issue, more stringent legislation is required.
CONCEPT AND IMPACT OF CYBERBULLYING
Bullying simply means harassing, intimidating, or defaming somebody. Cyberbullying can be interpreted as digital harassment. The term cannot be restricted to one definition, also the term bullying and cyberbullying in meaning overlap but are completely different in graveness. The term cyberbullying was initially used in 1999 by Canadian educator Bill Belsey. According to him, cyberbullying means using information and communication technology to support deliberate, persistent, and hostile behavior by a person or a group with the intent to hurt others. Later on, many other definitions of cyberbullying were proposed in 2006 Patchin and Hinduja defined cyberbullying as “willful and repeated harm inflicted through the use of computers, cell phones, or other electronic devices.” Kowalski defined it in 2014 as “the use of electronic communication technologies to bully others.”
It follows that people can define cyberbullying in accordance with their literary works. Bullying that extends outside of the schoolyard, i.e., into cyberspace, is referred to as cyberbullying. Because of the internet’s anonymity, it can be challenging to find bullies. Privacy violations, data theft, defamation, hate speech, online harassment, and obscenity are some of the crimes associated with cyberbullying. The victim of such acts suffers severe harm as a result of these actions. The effects are irreversible. Anxiety, stress, depression, physical harm, and mental disorders are all experienced by victims of these crimes. Common signs of bullying include a child’s reluctance to leave the house, low self-esteem, and unusual silence. As a result, parents must take all acts of bullying seriously and closely monitor what their child is going through because the consequences can range from substance abuse to suicide. To consider the prevalence of cyberbullying certain mechanisms and legislations are required to combat it.
STATUTORY PROVISIONS AND DRAWBACKS
Cyberbullying is nowhere defined in Indian Penal Code. Although certain provisions under Indian Penal Code, 1870, and Information Technology Act, 2002 provide remedies for cyberbullying to some extent. Some relevant sections of both acts are hereinafter mentioned. Section 66 A of the IT Act, provides punishment for offences like sending objectionable, abusive, hurtful messages or material via the internet on any social media platform. However, this section was struck down by the Supreme Court in the case of Shreya Singhal v. Union of India because it violated article 19 (1) (a) of the Indian Constitution which guarantees freedom of speech and expression. Section 66 D of the IT Act deals with digital impersonation and cheating. Section 66 E deals with the digital breach of privacy. Section 67 of the IT Act deal with the punishment for uploading, circulating, and sharing offensive and vulgar material online.
The provisions under the Indian Penal Code section 354 C criminalizes any act where without consent a woman’s photos are clicked, or keeping an eye where a woman wants to be in her private space and does not want anybody around her. But this section is insufficient for the LGBTQ community. Section 354 D of IPC deals with cyber-stalking which to some extent covers cyberbullying but not absolutely.  Section 499 of the IPC criminalizes the act of sending defamatory messages to someone and it can be done digitally. Section 507 of IPC deals with anonymous intimidation or making someone do something unwillingly by threatening them.
These provisions are used by the court to sort out many cases like the State of West Bengal v. Animesh Boxi. However, due to the lack of uniformity of laws regarding cyberbullying, there is reliance on multiple laws, which creates complexity in the legal system. Therefore, either uniform laws should be made for cyberbullying or some new provisions regarding the same are required to be inserted in the present IT Act, 2000.
To summarize, “cyberbullying” is simply harassment in virtual space or a form of electronic aggression. The number of cybercrimes is rising daily. In a report from 2012, it was stated that India came in third place for cyberbullying, but a more recent McAfee Corp report from 2022 claims that the country now leads the world in the percentage of children who have experienced cyberbullying at 85%. Due to its extreme effects, cyberbullying can cause anything from mild stress to suicidal thoughts. The victim may even become a criminal as a result of the desire for retribution. Therefore, uniformity in cyberbullying laws is necessary. In other words, the addition of provisions to the current Information Technology Act, 2000, or the enactment of separate laws for the crime. The provisions of the IT Act and the Indian Penal Code that have been used up to this point are insufficient and add to the complexities. Such heinous crimes must be dealt with appropriately.
Author’s Name: Adeel Usmani & Insha Siddiqui (Aligarh Muslim University)
 Billy Belsey, ‘Cyberbullying: An Emerging Threat to the “Always On” Generation’(Billy Belsey, March 24, 2019) <https://billbelsey.com/?cat=13 > accessed 4th November 2022
 Patchin JW, Hinduja S., ‘Bullies Move Beyond the Schoolyard: A Preliminary Look at Cyberbullying’ (2006) 4 (2) ACJS <https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/10.1177/1541204006286288> accessed 4th November 2022.
 Elizabeth Kandel Englander, ‘Defining Cyberbullying’ (ResearchGate, November 2017) <https://www.researchgate.net/publication/320774088_Defining_Cyberbullying > accessed November 5th 2022
 Information Technology Act, 2000, s.66A
 Shreya Singhal v. Union Of India (2015) 5 SSC 1
 Information Technology Act, 2000, s.66D
 Information Technology Act, 2000, s.66E
 Information Technology Act, 2000, s.67
 Indian Penal Code, 1870, s. 354C
 Indian Penal Code, 1870, s. 354D
 Indian Penal Code, 1870, s. 499
 Indian Penal Code, 1870, s. 507
 State of West Bengal v. Animesh Boxi (2017) CRM NO 11086