SC asks govt, others to mull ways to check sex offence videos
New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Monday directed the Union government, internet majors and other intermediaries to sit together to mull over technical ways to block and check sharing of videos of sexual offences on social networking sites.
A bench of Justices M B Lokur and U U Lalit directed Google India, Microsoft India, Yahoo India, Facebook and other internet intermediaries to submit the names of their representatives who would take part in the meeting in order to check cyber crimes.
The top court asked them to finalise the names and inform about their decision by March 22, the next date of hearing.
During the hearing, officials from the cyber security, who function under thhe CBI, told the bench that internet was a "wild highway" and blocking objectionable content at the source was a technical challenge for which clear guidelines needed to be passed to stop circulation of such material.
They told the top court that 50 countries have set up hotlines to stop child abuse in their jurisdiction but India was yet to start such a service.
The officials said they were taking assistance of the INTERPOL to stop child pornography, and whenever any complaint is received, the internet service providers are asked to block the objectionable content.
The Centre had earlier informed the court that it would set up a specialised agency mechanism to block and curb sharing of sexual offence videos on social networking platforms in order to check cyber crimes.
The court was hearing a letter sent to then Chief Justice of India H L Dattu by Hyderabad-based NGO Prajwala, along with two rape videos in a pen drive.
It had taken suo motu cognizance of the letter on the posting of these videos on WhatsApp and asked CBI to launch a probe forthwith to apprehend the culprits.
The Centre had told the apex court that the debate over making public the names of sexual offenders is on in India and abroad and whatever decision is taken in this regard will be implemented.
The CBI, in its reply to the plea had said that "committing such abhorrent crimes, recording them and disseminating them across the world through Internet-enabled media, serves to titillate and indirectly embolden other males to also commit such heinous crimes. These not only add to the misery of existing victims but also endanger and threaten the safety of other innocent women and children".
The agency had said that difficulty with this particular class of cases involving sexual crimes against women that are recorded and then circulated through Internet-enabled media is that the victims' trauma can continue almost endlessly until the sites are blocked and the perpetrators brought to justice.
The ministry's reply was sought after social activist Sunitha Krishnan had submitted that there should be a particular place where one could report the circulation of such rape videos and seek their blocking.
Krishnan, the co-founder of NGO Prajwala which is engaged in rescue and rehabilitation of victims of sex trafficking, said apart from the nine complaints which CBI was probing, she had another 90 cases but there was no single authority before whom she could lodge a complaint for blocking such videos.
The NGO's letter had also mooted the idea of maintaining a National Sex Offenders' Register which should contain details of persons convicted for offences like eve-teasing, stalking, molestation and other sexual assaults.
The NGO had also suggested that MHA should have a tie-up with YouTube and WhatsApp to ensure that such offensive videos are not uploaded and the culprits are punished as well.