Suggestions For Tackling The Menace Of Child Pornography In India

Praveen-DalalCyber crimes have significantly increased in India and they are perpetuated against various stakeholders. These include individuals, companies, Government departments and even children.  Although cyber crimes and cyber contraventions against children have increased many folds in India yet Indian Government has not come out with a concrete proposal to tackle this menace. However, a good step in this regard has already been taken by Indian Government by introducing stringent and punitive provisions in the Information Technology Act, 2000 (IT Act 2000) against those engaging in child pornography in various forms.  Unfortunately, the punitive effect of these provisions has been largely neutralised by none other than the Supreme Court of India as it has diluted cyber law due diligence (PDF) requirements to great extent. Now the Internet Intermediary Liability Law of India is in a really poor condition and neither the victim nor the public spirited individuals can contact the Internet Intermediaries and get the offending materials and child pornography related contents removed.

Indian Government is well aware and committed to the cause of school children and it believes that children must be suitably educated about issues like online dealing, cyber bullying, cyber harassment, inappropriate social media dealings, etc. A basic level cyber law education may also be made part of the schools curriculum by Indian Government very soon as cyber law education starts at the schooling stage. In the past, the CBSE has directed the schools to constitute an anti bullying committee to deal with harassment that school children faces in the contemporary cyberspace and Internet times. These issues were also part of the techno legal discussion that Perry4Law Organisation (P4LO) had with school children during the Jigyasa Career Mela organised by the Hans Raj Model School, New Delhi. Indian Government has also decided to launch Internet safety campaign in the past at various schools to spread cyber law and cyber security awareness among school children. Similarly, India Government has also declared that the Indian Cyber Crime Coordination Centre (IC4) would be set up to tackle all cyber crime including child pornography and online abuse.

Perry4Law Organisation (P4LO) welcomes these initiatives of Indian Government and its agencies/departments. At the same time, we firmly believe that child pornography is an area that requires special attention of Indian Government. As per the Cyber Law Trends of India 2013 (PDF) by Perry4Law Organisation (P4LO), child pornography in India has become a big nuisance. An Advisory (PDF) by Home Ministry of India on Preventing and Combating Cyber Crime against Children in India has also been issued realising the gravity of the situation. We also need a Techno Legal Framework so that child pornography can be curbed to the maximum possible extent in India.

India is also seeking international cooperation in this regard from Interpol. For instance, Interpol has already helped India in tracking child porn surfers. Now Central Government has decided to approach the Interpol once again to get the “worst-of” list of child pornography websites through the CBI, its nodal agency in the country. International cooperation is absolutely essential to deal with contemporary technology driven crimes like cyber crimes and cyber attacks. In most of the cases, jurisdictional issues are involved due to complicated conflict of laws in cyberspace and this necessitates international cooperation.  In many cases the servers of websites hosting child pornography contents are located outside the legal jurisdiction of India and in such situation international cooperation among law enforcement agencies becomes handy.

Perry4Law Organisation (P4LO) has been managing the Exclusive Techno Legal Centre of Excellence for Cyber Crimes Investigation in India (TLCOECCII) since 2012. The Centre is extending its techno legal expertise for techno legal fields like Cyber Law, Cyber Crimes, Cyber Forensics, E-Discovery, E-Courts, etc. We at TLCOECCII firmly believe that Indian Government needs to develop techno legal mechanisms to deal with the menace of child pornography, cyber crimes and cyber attacks. Nothing short of a techno legal mechanism can prevent and minimise the menace of child pornography and cyber attacks against India. For instance, absolute reliance upon website blocking to check child pornography or copyright violations is a wrong strategy as it would not provide long term solutions. Websites blocking laws and practices in India are yet to mature. The Supreme Court of India and Central Government are currently engaged in a dialogue to block child pornography websites in India with the help of Internet Intermediaries of India.  However, Internet Intermediaries are dragging their feet in this regard and so far the only exercise that has taken place is blame game and shifting of responsibilities from one stakeholder to another. So we have to think beyond website blocking at the first place.

We have managed many techno legal cases that involved not only different States of India but also different countries. For instance, many of our victims or/and clients were based in foreign countries like United States, United Kingdom, European Union, etc. Similarly, many of our Indian clients faced techno legal issues in foreign jurisdictions that are very difficult to manage from India.  We were required to go through the laws of different countries keeping in mind the conflict of laws or private international laws principles. To make the situation more complicated, technology issues were also involved where authorship attribution is very difficult to establish. We used multiple open source tools and software to get appropriate results but in many cyber crime cases we hit a wall with no further support or evidence from a foreign Internet Intermediary. This was the main reason why Perry4Law Organisation (P4LO) suggested that foreign technology companies must establish servers in India and must be made amenable to Indian laws. Many of our suggestions were subsequently accepted by Indian Government and TRAI but much is still to be taken care of. To fill this gap, we felt a great need to provide techno legal inputs and legal resources in these fields and therefore launched dedicated blogs like international legal issues of cyber security and international legal issues of cyber attacks in this regard.

With all our experience and dealings we can safely suggest that tackling of the menace of child pornography in India requires much more than mere website blocking by approaching the Supreme Court and Internet Intermediaries in India. We must also approach Foreign Governments in the most appropriate manner keeping in mind the laws of India and other countries. That is a tedious and cumbersome process and it requires tremendous techno legal expertise. Perry4Law Organisation (P4LO) is very optimistic that Indian Government would develop this techno legal expertise very soon.  We at Perry4Law Organisation (P4LO) and Exclusive Techno Legal Centre of Excellence for Cyber Crimes Investigation in India (TLCOECCII) would also love to extend our techno legal expertise to Indian Government in this field as and when needed. We wish Indian Government and its Agencies all the best in this regard.

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