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October 27, 2017

Curb online porn, calls for portal and hotline to register complaints: SC to Centre


childpornography

The Supreme Court has asked the Centre to create an online portal and hotline number where anonymous complaints could be filed against those responsible for uploading such offensive videos, to curb circulation of child pornography and rape videos on the internet.

A bench of Justices Madan B Lokur and U U Lalit approved the recommendations of the court-appointed committee — containing the Centre's representative and top technocrats from Google, Microsoft, Yahoo and Facebook — and commanded the government to implement them "at the earliest".

Headed by additional secretary from ministry of electronics and information technology, the committee collectively made eleven advices on steps to be taken to stop uploading and sharing of offending videos of rape and child pornography on the internet. It suggested that the Centre work with online search engines and civil society organisations to broaden the list of keywords and block them so that people would not search and access the objectionable videos. It also recommended that the keywords be also expanded to other Indian languages.

"A reporting mechanism must be created at the central level, preferably with the CBI (in view of its role and special access) to also receive information of any child pornography (CP)/rape and gang rape(RGR) content being circulated in social media or any other platform over the internet. There is a need to create a central reporting mechanism and any person/organisation should be able to report any CR/RGR with ease with provision for anonymous reporting," the panel said.

"The central team/authority to also immediately send communication to police stations for registration of FIR and initiation of prosecution. In view of CBI's willingness to take this responsibility, it is recommended that the matter be handled by CBI and not by local police," the report said. It said the Centre should authorise specific authority for welcoming complaints of CP/RGR online and initiating action within a specified time.

Accepting the recommendations, the bench said, "We expect the parties, including the Centre, to abide by the recommendations on which there is consensus and try and implement them at the earliest".

The Centre was directed to prepare a status report on implementation of the recommendations and place it before the court that will examine other recommendations on which there were differences of opinion among members, on December 11.

Only after the Centre and internet giants expressed inability to evolve a mechanism to stop uploading of offending videos of rape and child pornography, the court had appointed the committee. In this case, the court had taken suo motu cognizance of the issue on the basis of a letter written to the Chief Justice of India by Hyderabad-based NGO Prajwala, bringing to notice the rape videos widely circulated on WhatsApp. It had directed CBI to examine the cases and catch hold of culprits sharing the video through social networking sites.

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