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India to get 1st internet hotline to report child porn on 19 Sep

Lamat R Hasan | Updated on: 9 September 2016, 23:44 IST

Come 19 September and India will get its first internet hotline to report child pornography. The hotline is being launched by Prerana's Aarambh India Initiative with the help of the Internet Watch Foundation (IWF).

There is no clear data about the extent of child sexual abuse on the internet in India, yet there is reason to worry - because of the 20 percent Indians who have access to the internet, 37 percent are below the age of 15.

Data available from across the world is chilling. The number of child sexual abuse images available online have grown from a mere 45,000 in 2002 to a staggering 24 million in 2013.

We don't even want to know how many more million images have been added till September 2016 or how many more million children have been exploited. What we do know is that we have to actively report these images and save our children.

Innocence on Sale

With cost-effective smart phones and easy availability of internet recharge packages, our children are at risk of being exploited more than ever.

"As the reach of the internet spreads, the number of cases of online sexual abuse of children is worrying. Parents, guardians, civil society and even policy-makers are increasingly concerned about the vulnerability of children," Uma Subramanian, the co-founder and director of Prerana's Aarambh India, tells Catch.

"One of their major concerns is what redressal can they get if a pornographic or obscene image or video of a child is found on the internet."

Subramanian makes a fair point.

The Government of India report on Child Sexual Abuse, 2007, found that 4.46 percent of 12,000 children surveyed had been photographed in the nude. Between 2013 and 2014, there has been a 100 percent increase in the number of cases filed under "publication and transmission of obscene" material, including child sexual abuse material.

"Almost every child sexual abuse case that is reported to them has a technological component either used to groom or blackmail children," says Subramanian.

Cyber cells are being trained to keep pace with the ever-changing technology -- but it is not easy to track cases because of the sheer vastness of the virtual world. Besides, at the policy level there is a friction between the need to preserve the freedom of the internet or to protect our children.

Shocking: A child is abused every 30 minutes in India

Need for a watchdog

The Internet Watch Foundation (IWF) has become the virtual go-to place irrespective of whichever pocket of the world one lives in when it comes to reporting child pornography.

"In 2014, it dealt with over 31,000 illegal images of children. It is also one of the fastest. Over 84 percent of reported web pages were removed within 10 days. IWF's strength is due to the fact that it is an industry self-regulatory body funded and supported by 120 of the largest internet companies in the world," informs Subramanian.

The IWF also works closely with international law enforcement agencies.

The India hotline will be hosted on aarambhindia.org - which has become the largest network of governmental and non-governmental organisations and individuals working to protect children - within two years of its launch.

For India to successfully tackle the problem of child sexual abuse images and videos, Aarambh India is partnering with law enforcement agencies, the government and the internet industry.

How to report child sex abuse

* If you stumble on an image or video of child sexual abuse you can report the URL to the hotline hosted on aarambhindia.org

* You have to fill out a form. It's a simple 5-step procedure

* You have the choice to report anonymously

* The images will be assessed by the IWF team in the UK. They will decide the criminality and severity of the content as per UK laws and the IWF remit

* If the reported content is found to be criminal, the IWF will determine the location from where it was uploaded, and zero in on the host

* It will contact the hosting company and the relevant law enforcement agencies and initiate the process of removing content

* The URL will immediately be added to IWF's block list thereby disrupting further access to the content till it is removed

* This is the most comprehensive blocking list which is adhered to by major internet companies

* Once the content is removed, it is assigned a unique number generated from the data in the content

* This is used to identify, remove copies of the image/video and prevent future uploads

* Aarambh steps in here to provide assistance in investigations and in the rehabilitation of victims and their families

Next time you come across an obscene image or a video involving a child - stand up and report. Every single click counts. Every single click will help save a life.

Child Abuse in India: This is how we are failing our future generations

First published: 9 September 2016, 23:44 IST
 
Lamat R Hasan @LamatAyub

Bats for the four-legged, can't stand most on two. Forced to venture into the world of homo sapiens to manage uninterrupted companionship of 16 cats, 2 dogs and counting... Can read books and paint pots and pay bills by being journalist.

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