Amid criticism that the government is preparing to control the operation of social networking sites by making it necessary for them to register in the country, the government has clarified that registration of social networking sites is necessary to bring them under the tax net of the government.
Addressing a discussion programme on Information and Technology Bill that has been tabled at the Parliament, Minister for Communications and Information Technology Gokul Prasad Baskota, said the bill intends to manage the digital platform by making social networking sites register in the country and the move should not be misinterpreted.
“Social sites like Facebook and Twitter are registered in dozens of countries and they have been paying taxes worth billions of rupees to the governments of those respective nations.
As social sites have been earning huge amounts from Nepal, why should we not bring such sites under the tax net?,” questioned Baskota.
Bringing social networking sites under the tax net will not only help manage the operation of such social sites in Nepal but will also make them responsible, as per Baskota.
Along with managing social site operations, the Information and Technology Bill also envisions discouraging cyber bullying activities and control the flow of indecent contents that directly affect social harmony and encourage social evils.
The bill states that any new social media site has to be registered at the Department of Information to begin operations in the country while existing social media sites should be registered at the department within a certain period that the government will fix following the endorsement of the bill. Similarly, the bill also states that the government can stop the operation of social sites that are being operated without registration.
Likewise, the bill also restricts unnecessary postings on social media sites with the intention to undermine the country’s sovereignty, national security, national unity and other cultural and religious bonds. It also has a provision to slap a penalty of up to Rs 1.5 million fine or up to five years of imprisonment or both depending on the nature of the offence.
On the occasion, lawmaker Ram Narayan Bidari, said that the bill has delegated more rights to the government questioning the supremacy of the Parliament. “The tendency of incorporating provisions that gives more responsibility to the government in the law itself has to be ended.
It is the Parliament that brings laws while the government is responsible only for implementing them.”