Freedom Forum has been alarmed over the technological attack on a news portal run from federal capital, Kathmandu. A software company providing consultancy is learnt to have deleted a news story carried by www.kathmandupress.comfrom the backend.
The Shiran Technologies Pvt. Ltd, on Wednesday morning, secretively removed the content- 'a story about the corruption on purchase of medical equipment involving the sons of Prime Minister's Chief Advisor and of Deputy Prime Minister.'
Importantly, the technological company is linked to Asgari Ali, the person who is IT expert to the Prime Minister.
The www.kathmandupress.com had posted the story on Tuesday evening and it was removed on Wednesday.
Editor-in-Chief of the news portal, www.kathmandupress.com Mr Kosmos Biswokarma wrote in Twitter, ''The news story was removed illegally from the website on Wednesday and the media was investigating into the illegal hacking of the portal." Moreover, the news portal was suspended for one and half hour. He has further shared the information the staffs from the software company repeatedly urged the editors to remove the news.
It is shocking incident, possibly the first of its kind- attack on free press with technology. Erasing news content from websites' backend and suspending news portal is gross violation of press freedom. It is a wakeup call to entire Nepali media and FoE advocates that Nepal's media is under huge technological surveillance.
If those mentioned in the news story were dissatisfied with the news content, they could take legal recourse- going to Press Council. Rather, such egregious measure to erase news content is deplorable.
Of late, news reports are rife that commission and corruption involving high level people are taking toll with the country purchasing medical equipments, test kits and safety accessories to cope with COVID-19 in Nepal.
"The surveillance posed by those near the executive power of the country is disastrous to Nepali press. It unfolds escalating technological surveillance on Nepali media. Such blatant attack on freedom of expression and information, and data privacy is a strong reminder of coordinated and systematic cyber crimes to root out media and healthy criticism. Time has come to work in unison for protection and promotion of FoE for democracy," observed Freedom Forum Chief Executive.
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