The High-level Panel on Internet Regulation in Nepal was organized on February 9, 2023, as part of the Safer Internet Day celebrations in the country. The event aimed to address the challenges and inconsistencies in internet regulation in Nepal, emphasizing the need for clarity and improved laws and policies. The panel discussed various perspectives and recommendations, including political, legal, and industry viewpoints.
During the event, Mr. Ananda Raj Khanal presented a position paper highlighting cybersecurity issues and the prevalence of misinformation and cyber attacks in Nepal. He emphasized the need for better mechanisms to prevent and trace such attacks, as well as the importance of harmonizing existing policies and legislation related to ICTs.
Mr. Purusottam Khanal, Chairman of the National Telecommunications Authority, raised concerns about the lack of clear demarcation between ministries responsible for technology, leading to confusion over jurisdiction frameworks. He also highlighted the lack of capacity and resources within key institutions and other institutions responsible for addressing IT grievances.
Prof. Dr. Laxmi Pd. Mainali, Vice-Chair of the Nepal Law Commission, expressed the commission’s commitment to assist in the development of umbrella legislation to regulate the ICT sector in Nepal. He emphasized the importance of a single-window legislation process to address regulatory challenges effectively.
Honorable Gagan Kumar Thapa, the Chief Guest, stressed the need for promoting ICT as an industry and entrepreneurship. He acknowledged the hurdles and gaps in internet adaptation, awareness, and policies, and called for restructuring old regulatory frameworks to view the internet as a medium of change and development.
The panel discussion addressed various issues, including democratic governance, integrated legislation, challenges faced by internet service providers, digital divide, content regulation, and digital skills development for legislators and policymakers. The importance of addressing defamation, misinformation, and disinformation while ensuring the responsible use of the internet was also emphasized.
Key takeaways from the panel included the need for fair taxation and infrastructure sharing for ISPs, benchmarking for quality of service, the importance of digital literacy, and enhancing the role of legislators and policymakers through capacity development in digital skills.
Overall, the event shed light on the complexities of internet regulation in Nepal and called for comprehensive reforms and collaborations among stakeholders and other institutions to meet the challenges of the digital age.