Date and Time: September 29, 3PM Bangkok time (UTC+7)
Room: Zoom Meeting
- Meeting ID: 867 3393 8813
- Passcode: 501413
Digital rights and democracy face a new threat in Nepal with the passage of the 2023 National Cyber Security Policy last month. The policy establishes a legal and structural foundation for cyber security in Nepal, but some of its provisions are a risk to freedom of expression, right to privacy, and fundamental human rights. In particular, digital and human rights advocates have expressed alarm over plans to establish a national internet gateway that would monitor and control internet traffic; the lack of a concrete policy implementation plan; and a prohibitive, control-oriented approach emphasising constant surveillance of people’s behaviour in digital spaces. With the policy, Nepal seems to be on the path of becoming a surveillance state and planting the seeds of digital authoritarianism.
In this conversation, we want to ask:
- What provisions under the National Cyber Security Policy are particularly concerning for human and digital rights advocates?
- What was the process behind the creation of this new policy? What does it indicate about the government’s priorities and public response to digital rights issues?
- What harms does the proposed National Internet Gateway (NIG) pose? What lessons can be learned from Cambodia, which is also pushing for a similar NIG?
- How does this policy relate to other government interventions that also threaten human and digital rights?
- How will this policy impact the current and future of digital rights in Nepal?
- How has the public responded to this new policy so far?
- How can local and regional civil society respond to this policy? How can civil society build solidarity to engage the public and urge policymakers to ensure more rights-respecting policies?
Santosh Sigdel is the Executive Director of Digital Rights Nepal, a nongovernment organisation promoting digital rights in the country. A lawyer by profession, he has more than 18 years of experience working on human rights, digital rights, and transitional justice in Nepal. His interests lie in the relationship between technology, business, and human rights.
Samik Kharel is a researcher, journalist, and academic based in Kathmandu, Nepal. Kharel has been writing and researching various social issues for over a decade, focusing on digital technologies and their implications in society. He is also the founder of Digital Errands, an international collective working on simplifying digital narratives. As a journalist, he regularly contributes to various national and international media-including Al Jazeera, Deutsche Presse-Agentur, The Diplomat, The Kathmandu Post, and The Record.