With the rise in cases of cyber crimes across the world, internet is soon becoming a nasty place to be, especially for women and young children. Young impressionable children not only come across inappropriate images and videos online but also become victims of pornography, dubious imagery and videos. To tackle this situation, the Women and Child Development Ministry held a round-table on June 6 where it aimed at building convergence and developing a prompt response against online child sexual abuse material, rape imagery and other offensive material.

Representatives from Twitter, Facebook, UNICEF, Ministry of Home Affairs, Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MEITY) and NASSCOM attended the meeting. In the meeting, all stakeholders decided to develop an online Central Reporting Mechanism for lodging and escalating complaints of cyber crime from anywhere anytime.

WCD minister Maneka Gandhi announced that the Ministry of Home Affairs will soon host a hotline where people can flag websites carrying sexually explicit images and videos of women and children so that they can block them from the source.

The abusive material that the ministry talks about here includes child pornography, videos of rape, gang-rape and revenge porn, said a ministry official to The Hindu. He added that the helpline will aid legal proceedings against offenders such as web portals, search engines or internet service providers.

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Currently, victims approach the police first who refer the complaint to the cyber crime cell. From there, it goes to MEITY and the Department of Telecom. But the ministry wants to quicken the process so that the authorities can block offensive content within 24 hours.

To make the hotline a success, the ministry is planning to collaborate with international alliance such as INHOPE, Internet Watch Foundation or ArachNet, which are a network of hotlines that deal with illegal content online.

While the ministry estimates that the hotline will be ready in three months, the other stakeholders feel it might take longer because there is a need to put a framework in place, amend laws and train analysts.

“I have suggested to Twitter that it should draw a list of words such as rape, bitch, whore and other violent words and devise a way so that they can then pull down posts containing them,” – Maneka Gandhi

Earlier in January, Home Minister Rajnath Singh had also announced that a web portal is underway to deal with issues of financial frauds, child pornography and videos of sexual violence on the internet.

Gandhi at the event also rapped Twitter for failing to actively participate in removing posts containing abuses and rape threats directed towards women on the website. She then asked the representative of the micro-blogging website to devise a scheme to tackle online violence.

“I have suggested to Twitter that it should draw a list of words such as rape, bitch, whore and other violent words and devise a way so that they can then pull down posts containing them,” Maneka Gandhi told reporters.

A Twitter spokesperson responded to the minister and said, “We’ve taken major systemic steps to improve Twitter for everyone. We have made more than 30 changes to our products, policies, and processes in the past 16 months to tackle safety, and as of April 2018, we’re taking action on 4 times the number of abusive accounts every day compared to the same time last year.”

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