Kathmandu Press issues statement on unauthorised content removal by developers

KATHMANDU: Online news portal Kathmandu Press [kathmandupress.com] today issued a statement regarding the unauthorised removal of a published content on their website on Tuesday evening.

The news outlet's Chief Editor Kosmos Biswokarma says their team started receiving a volley of responses after publishing a report on involvement of Defence Minister and Prime Minister's Chief Advisor's sons in expensive medical equipment procurement deal. "On Wednesday morning, we received a call from Biswas Dhakal and Subhash Sharma from F1Soft, a parent company of Shiran Technologies who manage the development and design of our website. They asked us to remove the report stating there's immense pressure from 'above'," Biswokarma says in the statement.

According to the Editor, they explained to Dhakal and Sharma that a published content cannot be taken down but the parties that have issues with the content or have to refute the claims can send a written dissent response. Later at 10:30, they received a call from Shiran Technologies to remove the content. The team warned the developers to not mess with their site, however, despite the warning, the report was taken down.

"We tried contacting Biswas Dhakal, Subhash Sharma and Prajwal Maharjan many times after that but to no avail."

Instead of restoring the removed item, the developers jammed the site for almost two hours between 2:00-4:00 pm on the same day, according to the statement. "They finally allowed content upload on being warned with a legal action.

"This is perhaps the first instance wherein the web-developers have taken the liberty to remove a published content from the news portal," Biswokarma says in the statement.

Kathmandu Press says it has taken this act as a move to control media and an attack on press freedom. The laws are clear on measures to be taken if someone does not agree to a published report. "We are ready to correct ourselves or face action if our content is misleading or incorrect," the portal said adding, "we are now consulting with legal experts on how to move forward in this matter."

NPU, FNJ issue statements in support of Kathmandu Press

Nepal Press Union and Federation of Nepali Journalists (FNJ) have released statements on this issue.

"The constitution has guaranteed rights to anybody with concerns against a published material, to take legal action. This act, however, is a direct interference on freedom of expression and free press, while also being an unconstitutional step," the FNJ says in its statement.

The federation has condemned this step and has demanded an investigation into and an action against the guilty. "We demand that the government create an environment conducive for freedom of expression and ensure that such actions do not repeat in future."

Likewise, Nepal Press Union in its statement expressed dissent over the act of content removal without authorisation. "To remove a published material without the knowledge of the editorial team is a cyber crime and the people behind such act must be punished," the Union said.

NPU's statement further reads that the involvement of the Office of the Prime Minister in this matter is very concerning. "This kind of attack on media, despite the constitutional provision of taking legal steps in case there is disagreement, is unfortunate," General Secretary of the Union, Ajay Babu Shiwakoti said.

Press Union has urged PM KP Sharma Oli to initiate action against those involved in this act.