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India’s child rights body sent 7 content takedown requests since IT Rules kicked in, RTI reveals

In response to an RTI, the NCPCR revealed details of the multiple takedown requests including one that involves Rahul Gandhi.

In the last few months, the National Commission for Protection of Child Rights (NCPCR) has been quite busy. After taking action on multiple fake adoption pages and posts on social media, the child rights body had started looking into social media posts related to child sexual abuse victims. In an RTI response received by MediaNama, the NCPCR has revealed that it has sent 7 content takedown requests in the last 4 months since the IT rules came into effect and 10 such requests in total since May.

Childrens’ rights, data, and activity online is a sensitive area of content moderation. India’s new Information Technology (IT) Rules, 2021 requires social media intermediaries to ‘proactively’ take down content related to child sexual abuse on their platforms. Even under the draft Personal Data Protection Bill, data fiduciaries (entities responsible for storing and processing personal data) cannot engage in profiling, tracking, behavioural monitoring, or targeted advertising directed at children.

Details of the takedown requests

In its RTI reply, the NCPCR revealed that it has sent:

5 takedown requests to Twitter between July 5 and August 4. According to the NCPCR, these requests were regarding

  • A video alleging violation of child rights in Jammu and Kashmir
  • A non-governmental organisation, working in child rights, allegedly illegally raising money online
  • A complaint regarding a Twitter handle by a girl
  • ‘Another compliant regarding a minor girl’
  • Posts revealing the identity of a child sexual abuse victim, by posting pictures of their family, violating sections of the Juvenile Justice Act and POSCO Act. Sections 74 of Juvenile Justice Act,2015 and 23 of the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POSCO) Act, 2012, prohibit disclosure of the names of child sexual abuse victims whether in the form of news media articles, reports, or as social media posts. This particular takedown request is likely in relation to the posts uploaded by Congress leader Rahul Gandhi which led to his Twitter account being temoprarily suspended. MediaNama extensively covered the NCPCR’s notice to Twitter here.

3 takedown requests to Facebook and its subsidiaries Instagram and WhatsApp. Three requests were sent between May 7 and May 14 while another one was sent on August 13. These requests concerned:

  • A Facebook page allegedly trafficking and selling babies in New Delhi
  • A WhatsApp text-based case of alleged illegal adoption of a minor in North-West Delhi
  • Instagram post revealing the identity of a child sexual abuse victim, by posting pictures of their family, violating sections of the Juvenile Justice Act and POSCO Act.

For the remaining two requests, NCPCR did not reveal the name of the platform.

Other instances of NCPCR cracking down on children-related content

Before this, the Commission has sent notices and taken action against social media content related to children, child sexual abuse, etc.

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  • In April 2020, the Commission reportedly issued notices to Google, Twitter, WhatsApp and iOS, Apple India about the availability of child sexual abuse material on their platforms.
  • In September 2020, Twitter had been asked to provide relevant information to the NCPCR, after the latter filed a complaint against three Twitter users for allegedly ‘harassing and torturing’ a minor girl on social media.
  • In November 2020, the Commission had reportedly summoned CBSE officials for collaborating with social media platforms to conduct classes saying that encouraging children to use social media is not right as they are not safe mediums.
  • On June 14, the Commission had written to social media giants Facebook, WhatsApp, Twitter, and Telegram over illegal adoption posts on their platforms for children who have been orphaned by the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • On June 30, the Commission had registered a case with the Delhi Police’s Cyber Cell against Twitter Inc for allegedly having child pornographic and sexual abuse content on their platform.
  • On July 6, the Commission had asked Jammu and Kashmir Director General of Police Dilbag Singh to file a case against Twitter on charges of “encouraging people to involve children into terrorism”. According to the Hindustan Times, it cited a video on the platform that showed a child firing in the air.

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I cover health and education technology for MediaNama. Reach me at anushka@medianama.com

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