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Here’s what the IT Ministry had to say about prostitution listings on Locanto

Locanto's prostitution listings present a legal dilemma for the central government as its violations of Indian law are at a state level. The Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MeitY) was asked about prostitution listings on classifieds website Locanto, a Craigslist-like classifieds site. The parliamentary question was asked by DMK Lok Sabha Member of Parliament AKP Chinraj. The case is interesting, as Locanto's parent company, Yalwa GmbH, is based in Germany, but also offers services in India. Prostitution listings on the site appear with a simple Google search, and Indian law enforcement has struggled to keep up with the deluge of prostitution listings on the site. For instance, here are the arrests made in a single city over the last couple of months: May 21: An anti-trafficking police unit in Telangana arrested five Ugandan nationals in Dilsukhnagar for managing an organised prostitution ring with listings on Locanto, Telangana Today reported. May 19: A production manager in Hyderabad was arrested for involvement in a prostitution ring. He was also caught through advertisements found on Locanto, the New Indian Express reported. April 29: Police arrest a man for posting prostitution listings on Locanto, Telangana Today reported. Why it matters? What happens when an intermediary based abroad is used to commit crimes that are not at a central level? What if these intermediaries don't have any presence in India? The law doesn't offer remedies like blocking, as that can only be done under the IT Act. As more and more Indians get online, the legislative and technological…

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I cover the digital content ecosystem and telecom for MediaNama.

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