THE CENTRE is set to institute a cell within the Union Ministry of Women and Child Development (WCD) as part of its plans to set up a national alliance against child pornography content on the Internet. Women and Child Development Minister Maneka Gandhi said the decision was taken as there is no strong mechanism to check such content.
“A major chunk of the pornographic images and videos online are that of children. The only tracking of child pornography that happens is through a Mumbai-based NGO which intimates Internet Watch Foundation (IWF) in the UK, which then intervenes to get the content removed. We are in the process of setting up a cell within the ministry, and a national alliance, to crack down instantly on such cases,” she said.
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Officials said the national alliance would comprise civil society members who work in the area as well as officials from the WCD Ministry and the National Commission for Protection of Child Rights (NCPCR).
While there is no data on such content in India, a 2007 Government of India report on child sexual abuse showed that of the 12,000 children surveyed, 4.46 per cent reported to have been photographed in the nude — half of these were children in the age group of 5-12 years.
According to NGO Prerana, which, in association with IWF, runs a year-old hotline where people can report such online content, the spurt in smartphone sales and wider Internet access in India has increased the vulnerability of children.
“Once we report the case to IWF, they have the content blocked and then removed. How soon this happens also depends on the takedown time in the country. In India, since the government is the content regulator, they need to be on board and such an alliance will make the process quicker,” said Siddharth Pillai from Prerana.