RS panel recommendations
A Rajya Sabha panel has made 40 recommendations to prevent sexual abuse of children and contain access to and transmission of child pornography in social media. The recommendations include making monitoring apps mandatory on all devices and amending the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act (POSCO Act) and the Information Technology Act. The report was presented to Rajya Sabha Chairman M Venkaiah Naiu by Congress Parliamentarian and ad hoc panel's chief Jairam Ramesh.
- The Committee recommends modifying the IT (Intermediary Guidelines) Rules 2011 to include the ability to trace the originator or sender of the message shared on end-to-end encryption platforms in cases where CSAM (Child Sexual Abuse Material) that has been shared has come to the attention of law enforcement agencies. It further recommended that ISPs proactively monitor and take down CSAM.
- The Committee recommended that apps that help in monitoring children's access to pornographic content be made mandatory on all devices sold in India, and such apps or similar solutions be developed and made freely available to Internet Service Providers, companies, schools and parents.
- It further suggested increasing partnerships with financial services industry like credit card providers to prevent online payments systems from being used for purchasing child pornography.
At the legislative level
- The committee has suggested broadening the definition of child pornography in the POCSO Act, including a provision on child grooming, or using the Internet to faciliate sexual contact with a child, in the Act.
- The issue of breaking end-to-end encryption has been under contention since the last year, with the government intensifying its pitch asking companies such as WhastApp to break end-to-end encryption to trace the origin of messages.
- Though the issue gained steam in light of rumours spread through WhatsApp, leading to several lynchings in the country, if these recommendations come into effect, it could set a precedent for other similar requests.
The technological suggestions
- The Ministries of Electronics and IT and Home Affairs signing agreements with industry to develop technological solutions for proactive monitoring of CSAM, partner with blockchain companies to track cryptocurrency transactions used to to purchase child pornography online.
- It also suggests making amendments to the Informtion Technology Act to include punitive measures for those who provide pornography access to children and also those who access, produce or transmit CSAM.
- The report further suggests that the IT Act include a clause to give powers to the "Union Government through its designated authority to block and/or prohibit all websites/intermediaries that carry CSAM.
- The Committee has also recommended that MeitY deploy people in priority countries whose "sole job would be to fast-track requests for take-down of content under the Mutual Legal Assistance Treaty (MLAT).
- The Committee recommends an executive agreement with the US under the US’s Clarifying Lawful Overseas Use of Data (CLOUD) Act, 2008 in order to remove bottlenecks for speedy and effective action.
- It also says that an upgraded and technologically empowered National Commission for Protection of Child Rights (NCPCR) be designated as the nodal agency to deal with the issue of child pornography and the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) mandatorily record and report annually cases of child pornography of all kinds.
- A national tipline number should be created where child sexual abuse as well as distribution of child pornographic material can be reported by concerned citizens.
- The Committee met social media and technology firms including Facebook (which owns WhatsApp and Instagram), Twitter, ShareChat, Google, TikTok and others to understand the issues related to spread and curbing of child pornography.