How safe are we online? What measures should we be taking so that we are safe in the virtual world? These are some of the crucial questions deliberated on at the Online Safety Summit.

Speaking at a session on Online Safety Challenges, cyber safety expert Akancha Srivastava said: “Currently, in India, we have 250 million social app users, of which 73% are men and 27% women. Now the main challenge here is how to differentiate between harassment and abuse. But there are laws to protect you and organizations to teach you the basics. Learn how to use the tools. One of the key areas we need to tap in is knowledge. If you have the basics right, you’re empowered. Know your right, laws and safety and most importantly how to reach the police in dire situations.”

Advocate Abha Singh explained what is holding us back in using the laws or reaching out to the police. She said: “Sections are there, but people are scared to use them. Any obscene matter or harassment is punishable offence. Know your laws and rights to better your life online.”

A recent cyber portal has been launched where you can upload your complaints without having to attach a photo. Women are generally scared to give out their identity. Our cops are not trained for cyber laws. However, the situation is changing, Singh said.

For better reach you can now tweet to the police commissioner or email them to get a faster reply, she added.

Psychiatrist Anjali Chhabria said: “The biggest challenge today is that we constantly tend to look alike to someone else, try to copy their lifestyles. When that requirement doesn’t meet, we get depressed and instead of going offline, we spend more time on the internet to make ourselves feel better. The number of teenage suicides has doubled. But we need to use the space for good, share mental healthcare and benefits.”

She added, “The genius way to go about is to ensure sex education at school level. Let’s start courses online that can help prevent online harassment.

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According to Aiana Jain, style coach and blogger: “Online safety is very much similar to offline where we are not being bothered or judged.”

She added that the challenge was to put herself out there as being a blogger requires exposure. “I knew I would be judged. People will criticize. You feel molested virtually.”

So how do we deal with such issues? Aiana said: “You don’t! You ignore or block them.”

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