Apr 9, 2012

Nepal - Facebook at core of cybercrimes in Nepal

Offence over Facebook has outrun all other forms of reported cybercrime in Nepal, police records have shown.

With a constant growth in popularity of the social networking site, the scope of misdemeanour that ranges from password hacking to creating fake user accounts for defamation has risen.

Suhas Sharma (name changed) of Kirtipur lodged a complaint with the Metropolitan Police Crime Investigation Division (MPCID) on August 1, 2011, demanding an action, after he was tagged to nude photographs and online porn links.

A Nepali Congress leader, who is also a Constituent Assembly member, received death threat on his Facebook wall. Police say other political leaders have also been threatened on Facebook.

The mobile number of Preeti Bhattarai (name changed) of Koteshwor, was publicly displayed on a fake account created in her name, soliciting sexual relationships. When she started getting telephone calls from strangers, asking about “rates per night,” she complained to the police.

According to the data compiled by the MPCID, nearly 70 percent of all cybercrime cases reported in the last three years were related to Facebook.

“Owing to a lack of awareness, the number of individuals taking their cyber plights to the police is little,” said MPCID Chief SSP Devendra Subedi.

“Still, a majority of these rarely reported cases are about Facebook. This surely is an alarming fact for us who have been dealing with it.”

Forty-seven cases of cybercrime have been registered and delved into by the police since mid-2008. Thirty-one of them were about the misuse of, and crisis created on Facebook.

According to Subedi, hundreds of such cases are not even reported to the police. “Tracking down IP addresses, we make our way up to the computer used in the crime,” said SSP Subedi. “When the computer turns out to be a public cyber cafe seat, all the efforts become useless.”

In most cases, therefore, after receiving complaints, police take measures to delete the respective fake Facebook account in coordination with the Nepal Telecommunications Authority and Internet Service Providers. In some cases, police have also mailed to the Facebook headquarters in the United States for a particular action over the account.

“We still lag behind technologically in dealing with a serious issue like cybercrime,” said SSP Subedi, stressing the need to enhance the capability of law enforcement agencies. “Given the growing popularity of networking sites, the problem is likely to aggravate by the day. Besides enhancing our probe mechanism, we need to focus on increasing public awareness of the matter.”

Ankit Adhikari
The Kathmandu Post

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