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New POCSO bill to expand child porn definition to include anime, adults posing depicting children

The Union government in its new amendment to the POCSO Act has reportedly expanded the definition of child porn to include computer-generated/digital visual imagery of sexually explicit content involving a child, according to a Hindustan Times report. The new definition will include all photos or videos which depict children in a sexually abusive scenario, even an adult actor pretending to be a child (in a sexually explicit content) would come under its ambit. So will cartoons and anime depicting child porn. The amendment will include a definition of the child porn which wasn’t a part of the 2019 amendment bill introduced in Lok Sabha earlier in January. The Union Cabinet has approved these amendments, and the bill is set to be introduced in Parliament next week.

The new amendments also make storage of sexually explicit material involving children punishable. If a person stores such material, but fails to delete, destroy, or report it to authorities, they will be penalised with a fine of up to Rs 5,000 and Rs 10,000 in the first and second instance respectively. Its unclear at this stage if there’s a imprisonment penalty as well.

What the January POCSO amendment bill proposed against child porn

The Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (Amendment) Bill, 2019 (introduced in Parliament in January) provided for death penalty for aggravated sexual assault on children, made the Act gender neutral, and also had protections against child porn. The earlier bill also made failure to delete child porn material punishable, but with much lower penalties: Rs 1000 and Rs 5000 in the first and second offence respectively, and with up to three years imprisonment. POCSO was enacted in 2012 to protect children from sexual assault, sexual harassment, and pornography.

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