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Published On: Sun, Jan 26th, 2020

Parliament panel for apps to prevent sexual abuse on children’s access to pornography

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2020_1$largeimg_477040245NEW DELHI : The Ad Hoc Committee of the Rajya instituted by Chairman  M. Venkaiah Naidu has made several far reaching recommendations to prevent sexual abuse of children and to contain access to and transmission of child pornography content on the social media. The report of the Committee was presented by the Chairman of the Committee  Jai Ram Ramesh to Shri Naidu on saturday.
The initiative of Venkaiah Naidu in setting up such a committee to examine and report on an issue of such a wider social concern is the first of its kind and has been widely appreciated. Mr Ramesh, in the report, stated that it is a good model that can be followed from time to time to get members of the Rajya Sabha to deliberate on pressing social issues.
Expressing concern over the seriousness of the prevalence of the horrific social evil of child pornography, the committee has recommended important amendments to the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act, 2012 and the Information Technology Act, 2000 besides technological, institutional, social and educational measures and state-level initiatives to address the alarming issue of pornography on social media and its effects on children and the society as a whole.
The initiative of Mr Naidu in setting up of such a Committee to examine and report on an issue of such a wider social concern  is the first of it’s kind and has been widely appreciated. Ramesh in the Report of the Committee stated that it is a good model that can be followed from time to time to get members of Rajya Sabha to deliberate on pressing social issues.
Expressing concern over the seriousness of the prevalence of the horrific social evil of child pornography, the Committee has recommended important amendments to the Protection of Children From Sexual Offences and the Information Technology Act, 2000.

Besides technological, institutional, social and educational measures and state level initiatives to address the alarming issue of pornography on social media and its effects on children and the society as a whole.
The 40 recommendations made by the  Committee relate to adoption of a broader definition of child pornography, controlling access for children to such content, containing generation and dissemination of Child Sexual Abuse Material (CSAM),  making accountable the Internet Service Providers and online platforms for denying access to children.
Noting that the purveyors of child pornography seem always to be one step ahead of the regulators, the Committee stressed on the need for implementation of its recommendations as an integrated package of measures and not piecemeal to have any value and impact.
The Committee urged the Prime Minister to take up the subject of child pornography and the measures required to combat it in one of his forthcoming ‘Man Ki Baat’ broadcast besides taking the lead in building up a global political alliance to combat child pornography on social media like the  International Solar Alliance initiative.

The Committee has broadly sought to address two main issues viz., access of children to pornographic material on social media and circulation of pornographic material on social media in which children are abused. The major recommendations of the Committee has given as under:
The Committee has recommended amendments to the POCSO Act, 2012 and the IT Act, 2000 with corresponding changes to be carried out in the Indian Penal Code; which advocating or counseling sexual activities with a person under the age of 18 years through any written material, visual representation or audio recording or any characterization is made an offence under the Act;

Another clause to be inserted in the POCSO Act, 2012 prescribing a Code of Conduct for intermediaries (online platforms) for maintaining child safety online, ensuring age appropriate content and curbing use of children for pornographic purposes; Under the POCSO Act, 2012, school management should be responsible for safety of children within schools, transportation services and any other programmes with which the school is associated.

National Cyber Crime Reporting Portal shall be designated as the national portal under reporting requirements in POCSO Act in case of electronic material.A new section be included in the IT Act 2000, providing for punitive measures for those providing pornographic access to children and also those who access, produce or transmit Child Sexual Abuse Material(CSAM);
The IT Act to be modified making intermediaries responsible for all measures to proactively identify and remove CSAM as well as report it to Indian authorities as well besides the foreign authorities.

Gateway Internet Service Providers (ISP’s) must bear a significant liability to detect and block CSAM websites.  Intermediaries shall also be responsible to report to the designated authority, IP addresses and identities of all those searching and accessing child porn key words.
Ministries of Women and Child Development and Information and Broadcasting shall launch campaigns for greater awareness among parents to recognize early signs of child abuse, online risks and improving online safety for their child.
The committee has recommended that each State and Union Territory shall have empowered State Commission for the Protection for Child Rights mirroring capabilities and capacities of the NCPCR. E-safety Commissioners be appointed at state level to ensure implementation of social media and website guidelines relating to removal of pornographic content, age verification, issuing warnings etc.

 

 

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