News

February 12, 2020

SC Tells MHA To Convene Meet On Blocking Child Porn


[ By Bobby Anthony ]

Supreme-Court

The Supreme Court has asked the central government to hold discussion with internet intermediaries including Google, WhatsApp and Facebook, to develop a strategy to restrict circulation of rape videos, child pornography images.

A bench headed by Chief Justice S A Bobde and comprising Justice B R Gavai and Justice Surya Kant noted the submissions of advocate Aparna Bhat, appearing for Hyderabad-based NGO Prajwala.

Bhat submitted that a meeting to deal with circulation of obscene content on social media platforms is yet to be convened by the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) involving all the stakeholders since December 2018.

Solicitor Tushar Mehta, who represented the central government, told the Supreme Court that a meeting to discuss the matter would take place soon, requesting the court not to pass any order.

Bhat cited the difference in opinion between the NGO and internet intermediaries on the matter. She said that an NGO could decide the content which ought to be blocked at the outset, but internet companies say materials have to be brought to their notice to take action.

Bhat said any delay in action would eventually make the content go viral. She insisted that the issue of child pornography falls under the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act (POSCO) and it's mandatory to report about it.

Lawyer N S Nappinai, who is assisting the court as amicus curiae, suggested artificial intelligence tools could filter obscene content and help in its elimination.

In 2015, the Supreme Court had taken the suo motu cognizance of a letter written to the then Chief Justice H L Dattu alleging circulation of two rape videos and the video content was submitted in the court in a pen drive.

Meanwhile, the Supreme Court said that it will ask the MHA to schedule a meeting to discuss this matter.

The Supreme Court asked Bhat to provide a status report to all parties to the case and scheduled the matter for further hearing after four weeks.

In 2018, the Supreme Court had stated that the central government could lay down standard operating procedures (SoP) to block obscene content involving children.

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