Nepal | December 02, 2020

Nepal Telecommunications Authority alerts subscribers to disinformation

Himalayan News Service
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KATHMANDU, OCTOBER 21

The Nepal Telecommunications Authority has appealed to all telecommunication subscribers of the country to be aware of the false and misleading information doing the rounds of late.

Issuing a notice here today, the country’s telecommunications regulatory body stated that its attention had been drawn towards the misleading and false information being circulated through SMS, social networking sites and social media that the government was planning to clamp curfew or impose a state of emergency due to the alarmingly high number of COVID-19 cases in the country.

Photo: THT Online

“Earlier, many people were confused after a large number of SMS messages were circulated in English language saying that a curfew had been clamped in Nepal.

Screenshots of such information were also being shared on social media,” said Min Prasad Aryal, spokesperson for NTA.

The notice claimed that the Nepal government had clamped curfew and that no one would be allowed to leave their homes.

“Subsequently we started our investigation. Nepal Police has also deployed its cyber cell to look into the matter,” he added.

According to him, some hackers had compromised the system of value-added service providers to circulate fake information.

Mobile service providers work with VAS providers to provide extra services to their customers.

“In such a situation, hackers can easily hack the system of a VAS provider to access mobile subscribers’ data if the system coding is weak,” Aryal explained.

“But this issue is not just related to hackers who misled the public, but also about the weakness of mobile network service providers and VAS providers they are working with.”

He added that today’s notice was also a warning for mobile network service providers to strengthen their system.

The home ministry has already refuted the disinformation surrounding the curfew and emergency circulated in SMS and social media. It had instructed telecommunication service providers to remain on high alert to curb dissemination of such false messages.

NTA cited a provision in Telecommunications Act which states, ‘If a person misuses telecom service or causes loss or damage to any property related to the telecom service, NTA will recover the amount equal to the loss from the person and may also impose a fine equal to the loss.’

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A version of this article appears in print on October 22, 2020 of The Himalayan Times.


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