Rajya Sabha MP Rajeev Chandrasekhar wrote to the Honourable Minister for Law & Justice, Electronics & Information Technology, Sh. R S Prasad urging his intervention to curb the growing digital sexual abuse of children as well as to regulate and shut down Mobile apps which threatens the safety of children.
Quoting a media report, Chandrasekhar said “There is an exponential growth in a few short video mobile apps due to their simple-to-navigate interface, and free availability on Google Play or App Store. Apps such as Kwai, Clip, TikTok, NewsDog, LiveMe and Helo, which threatens the safety of children are easily accessible and are becoming a new breeding ground for ‘grooming’ underage children for child pornography.”
“According to INTERPOL, around 2.4 million instances of online child sexual abuse were reported from India in 2017. US-based National Center for Missing and Exploited Children also reported that over 24.46 lakh children were abused in 2017 in India. These are just the reported cases, there could be many that go unreported.” Rajeev said.
“Such Apps have a high demand from vernacular entertainment consumers in different states in India. The abusers try to contact children using these vernacular languages. With easy availability of internet and smart phones, there has been a surge in cases of child sexual abuse, harassment, bullying and blackmail where the perpetrator finds his victim on one of the available social video apps.” Chandrasekhar said.
MP Rajeev Chandrasekhar shared his recommendation on steps which could be taken and urged the Ministry to add and modify as they deemed necessary: –
- Create a permanent institutional framework to monitor and regulate online content that falls under the category of Digital Exploitation of Children. A suggested institutional framework could be a permanent inter-ministerial group consisting of representatives from the Ministry of Home Affairs, Women and Child Development and Law and IT to arrive at a technology-based solution to the problems of Digital Child Abuse.
- To immediately initiate extensive consultations, awareness programmes. with all stakeholders and draft well-crafted roles for each group — including ISPs, the police, parents, schools etc.
- Review and amend the IT Act, 2000 to provide strict penalties to intermediaries who facilitate such content and strengthen legal framework including Commissions for Protection of Child Rights Act.
- Ban such mobile applications which do not curate the inappropriate content involving children.
- Direct intermediaries such as Google and Apple to take strict measures for removing/banning such apps from GooglePlay and AppStore which allow exchange of child pornographic images/videos and enable paedophiles to “groom” the children.
- Formulate a dedicated legal framework where specific guidelines regulate mobile applications which makes viewing and sharing of sexually explicit images/videos of children a punishable offence.
- Review and amend POCSO Act ,2012 to make Digital Child Abuse and Online Child Grooming a punishable offence.
“Children constitute 44.4% of India’s current population and are the future of our nation. It is our responsibility to ensure that they get a safe and happy childhood that they deserve. This issue requires serious attention. Regrettably, your ministry has done very little so far on this issue. I hope you and your ministry will take strict action to prevent Digital Child Abuse in India.” MP Rajeev Chandrasekhar wrote in his letter.
The internet, if not regulated and monitored can make it