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Home Ministry launches portal to report online sexual abuse

The Home Ministry has launched a new portal where victims can report online sexual abuse, rape, gang rape, child abuse, child sexual abuse content anonymously, reports Indian Express. A joint secretary of the Home Ministry said that the portal will help victims and complainants report incidents and stop the online circulation of such content.

Victims or others can provide name of offender, his/her social media profile, username, URL, contact for WhatsApp, Snapchat among others, email address. Significantly, victims/complainants can upload files for evidence and track the status of their complaint on the website. The National Crime Records Bureau will ask intermediaries to remove objectionable content as ask the portal/intermediaries to remove it.

The Ministry also launched the country’s first-ever national database of sexual offenders for the use of law enforcement agencies. The registry includes name, address, photograph and fingerprint for each person on it. The registry is not open for public viewing.

In May 2016, the MHA said that it would launch a similar portal named Cyber Crime Prevention against Women and Children (CCPWC) under the Nirbhaya Fund. Developed jointly by the Home and Women & Child Development Ministry, it would let Indian women post complaints about online harassment. This came after Women & Child Development Minister Maneka Gandhi stated that online abuse and trolling of women in India should be treated as violence against them.

Government’s attempts at to check online harassment

  • In December 2017, the MHA constituted an committee called Inter-Ministerial Committee on Phone Fraud (IMCPF) to check on phone and cyber fraud, which would have officials from MeitY, Department of Financial Services, Department of Telecommunication, Reserve Bank of India and law enforcement agencies.
  • In September 2017, MeitY roped in the Department of Telecom to help in implementing its order of blocking online Child Sexual Abuse Material (CSAM) in the country. CSAM means any material containing sexual image (in any form) of a child who is abused or sexually exploited.
  • The ministry of of women and child development sought the formation of national alliance against online child sexual abuse and exploitation in January 2017. One of the primary objectives was to define child pornography including amendment to the IT Act and the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act (POCSO Act).

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