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SC Goes Strict On Explicit Internet Content, Asks Centre To Set Up Cell To Fight Child Porn

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| October 27 , 2017 , 12:01 IST

The Supreme Court on Thursday asked the Central Government to implement the proposal of a high-powered committee, which was constituted to devise a plan to check circulation of child pornography and sexual violence videos on the Internet, to set up a cell within the CBI or the Ministry of Home Affairs to deal with such crimes.

A bench of Justices Madan B Lokur and U U Lalit said that it “expected” the government and social media platforms and Internet service providers, including Google, Yahoo, Facebook, WhatsApp and Microsoft, to “abide by the recommendations on which there is consensus and to try and implement them at the earliest.”

The bench asked the government to file a status report on the implementation of the recommendations and submit it in a sealed cover before December 11 when the court will take up the matter next for hearing. The order came on a plea by NGO Prajwala highlighting the availability of child porn and rape and gangrape videos online and seeking measures to check this. Hearing the matter, the court had set up an expert committee on March 22 “to assist and advise” it “on the feasibility of ensuring that videos …are not available for circulation, apart from anything else, to protect the identity and reputation of the victims and also because circulation of such videos cannot be in public interest at all.”

The committee was headed by then Additional Secretary, Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology, Ajay Kumar, and comprised representatives of social media platforms and Internet service providers. The committee also proposed a “sub-project to be created” within the Cyber Crime Prevention Against Women and Children project of the Department of Women and Child Development “for eliminating child porn/rape and gang rape (content).” It called upon the government to ensure that “Search Engines other than those already implementing URL blocks for identified child porn/rape and gang rape content…initiate similar processes” and added that “internet companies should consider providing support to Indian NGOs to help bring awareness of these issues.”

The report said, “WhatsApp should make further improvement in their reporting process which would enable easier reporting of contents in the App while maintaining the integrity of the contents and metadata available on phone at the time of reporting.”
 
Content hosting platforms, social media platforms and search engines, it said, should provide links for reporting child porn and rape and gang rape imagery, as a specific category and the same must be more prominently displayed on their pages. On this, the companies said they were continuously working on improving processes for reporting content, including child porn and rape and gang rape content, that violates their policies or applicable laws.

The solution, the committee said, lay in “proactively identifying rogue sites by an independent agency which can identify sites that contains child porn and rape and gang rape content and blocking these sites.” It added that “to prevent the circulation of subject imagery, government can block any additional sites/applications if they do not remove such contents of their own.”