With technology becoming more and more integrated into our lives, we have found ourselves a safe haven in the arms of another world, a world much much bigger than what we had grown up to imagine possible. We have found in it a space to be ourselves under the cover of anonymity, or to be who we want to be with new bravado unbelievable to our own eyes in the real world. It would be wrong in fact to call it the real world now as opposed to a virtual world, for the virtual world is getting more and more real with every passing day, every passing hour, in fact with every passing thought.
As we grow more familiar in this new virtual world in which we seek new expressions of ourselves and the world around us, we make headway, stumble, and move on. In this experimentation and coming to terms with our own being and the world around us we learn to let go of preconceived notions and biases particular to our ‘real world’ conditioning, or further strengthen them and allow them to take on more rigid forms that effectively make the virtual environment more threatening for others on similar journeys of self expression and identity formation within the virtual world.
Simply put, if Anita has a caste bias and she is connected to friends and followers who either have the same bias and are accepting of it, or are ignorant of the bias and choose to keep mum, then Anita by posting a casteist statement online is creating a threatening environment for Vinita who may be of the caste mentioned or simply be affronted by statements that spew hatred and shame a particular community. This is as much of a crime in the real world as in the virtual world and this is where the hand of law comes in. In the latest ruling by the Delhi High Court,
The High Court made it clear that the Scheduled Castes & Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, 1989, will apply if a casteist slur is made against a person from these communities. In fact, social media leaders like Facebook and Twitter too have community standards which clearly state that they would remove hate speech, which includes content that directly attacks people based on their race, ethnicity, national origin, religious affiliation, sexual orientation, sex, gender or gender identity, or serious disabilities or diseases. The High Court’s ruling will apply to all social media platforms including private information sharing groups such as on WhatsApp.
This ruling will act as a massive backing to the efforts being made to stem the spate of cyber crimes in India. Cyber crime units are functioning across India for the special investigation of crimes in the virtual world. To find out about your nearest cyber crime unit and for information on how to file an FIR, have a look at the link and steps given below.
Have a look at our website to know where to get help near you!
In the meanwhile, let us continue to be human in an age of blurring lines between the real and the virtual, for the spaces we inhabit do not define us, we define the spaces we inhabit.