Tashi Dema     

The recent incidents of how obscene videos went viral despite appeals from police and other authorities is evidence of how much control we have over cybercrime and the damages it brings to people.

Police have registered a case against the 74-year-old man, who made the amateur videos without  the consent of the women and circulated it, but the videos that show the women’s face clearly are still circulating.

“We cannot do much unless people take moral responsibility and stop sharing and watching the videos,” a police officer said.

An information and technology (IT) professional, who helped authorities resolve several cybercrime in the past, said once a material, written or videos are posted  online, it is difficult to take it down. “All the videos are circulating via various social media platforms, where our government or authorities do not have any say.”

He explained that  the most authorities could do is to report to the social media site admins and request them to take it down, which would take time. “By then the damage is already done.”

There are laws in place and people have been convicted of cybercrime before. The Information, Communications and Media Act 2018 and Penal Code have provisions that criminalise violators. Technologies are also available to trace the crime and people committing online crimes.

But that is not stopping perpetrators.

While many believe that punishment for such crimes are not severe, as it is graded a misdemeanour with sentences ranging from a month to three years in prison for cybercrimes and distribution of obscene materials, others reason that severity of punishment never served as a deterrence.

According to the IT professional, creating awareness and conducting advocacy on the adversity of social media is a must. “This cannot stop cybercrime but control it.”

He said that citizens, rather netizens, should be informed and educated on why they shouldn’t allow anyone to film their private life and the dangers of putting it on social media. “We have talked enough on this but we never addressed it.”

He said cyber education and advocacy should start in schools rather than just introducing the internet, for instance. “If we are introducing ICT as a third language and mandating students to study it as a third subject, we have to talk about all the online crimes and dangers.”

He also said recent advocacies on cybercrime do not give any solution to what happens after the online scams. “They are just posting what is already there on Youtube and online without a solution for the local problem.”

He questioned the role of civil servants and corporate employees who study cybercrime. “It is time the government create a pool of cybercrime experts to implement what they studied.”

Meanwhile, sources also point out how our law enforcement agency lacks expertise and seriousness to curb cybercrime.

A Thimphu resident, Sonam, said if the businessman was held accountable right after he leaked the first video, he would not have leaked other videos and damaged many lives. “What these people do in their private life as adults is not an issue, but the issue is when someone puts in online.”