Saturday, December 31, 2022

Attacks through digital medium pose new threat to press freedom

The umbrella organisation of Nepali journalists claimed that 2022 was very challenging in terms of freedom of the press and expression in Nepal.

"The new threat to press freedom has been added, as new means have been adopted to curb freedom of the press and expression, with the advancement of new technology," a press note issued by the Federation of Nepali Journalists (FNJ) reads.

People or groups disagreeing with the news and views have started systemetically attacking media organisations and individual journalists through new technology, it further reads, adding that it has posed more challenges to the journalists' safety.

“Unlike previous years, media and journalists were attacked through digital means this year," the press note signed by general secretary of the FNJ Roshan Puri adds. "Acts including gaining unauthorised access to the content management system (CMS) of online media, organising unfollow campaigns, threatening journalists through social media platforms, attempting to shut down or hack social media accounts increased this year."

Stating that new media-related laws promulgated by the federal, state and local governments have also posed challenges to the press freedom that is guaranteed by the constitution, the FNJ said, "Rather than promoting freedom of the press and expression, these laws are bent on curbing the Constitutional rights."

According to the FNJ, a total of 132 male and 18 female journalists and six media organisations were affected by such incidents but the number of press freedom violation incidents has come down compared to the past year. In 2021, some 62 incidents of violation of press freedom were recorded while 190 journalists and four media organisations were affected.

The FNJ has recorded 53 incidents of press freedom violation this year. Threat to the free press will eventually lead to rise in bad governance fuelled by corruption, and the country will have to suffer as the cost of doing business will increase hampering new investments.

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