Context: India has one of the youngest youth demographics in the world and is among the most active online.
- As online interactions increase, more and more content is created and shared among people, helping them form new and wonderful connections. Sometimes, however, these interactions also make them vulnerable to harm.
- As per the NCRB Data, A total of 50,035 cases in 2020 were registered under cybercrimes, showing an increase of 11.8 per cent in registration over 2019 (44,735 cases).
- In India, an estimated 71 million children aged between 5 to 11 years access the Internet on the devices of their family members, constituting about 14 percent of the country’s active Internet user base of over 500 million.
- It should also be noted that two-thirds of internet users in India are in the age group of 12-29 years.
About The Information Technology Act, 2000:
- It came into force on October 17, 2000, and contains cyber laws in India.
- The main objective of the Act is to provide legal recognition to electronic commerce and to facilitate the filing of electronic records with the government.
- Important Sections:
- Section 66E – Publishing obscene images
- Section 67 – Publishes or transmits unsolicited material
- Section 67A – Publishes or transmits explicit sex
- Section 67B – Abusing children online
About the New Information Technology (IT) Rules:
- The New Information Technology (IT) Rules ensure the online safety and dignity of women users and give a framework to deal with content, including fake content, which results in heinous crimes. Features includes the following:
- Imposes several obligations on online entities including appointing grievance redressal officers and assisting in investigations.
- Provides a set of checks and balances for the removal of unlawful content and information on the internet.
- Empower the ordinary users of social media digital platforms and make intermediaries, including the social media intermediaries, accountable.
- Intermediaries shall remove or disable access within 24 hours of receipt of complaints of contents that exposes the private areas of individuals, show such individuals in full or partial nudity or a sexual act or is in the nature of impersonation including morphed images, etc.
Challenges in the Digital Space:
- Circulation of Private Pics and Videos: Private pictures of young women are leaked online. Sometimes it is from a hacked account, other times because of a soured relationship.
- It should be no surprise that young men and women are exploring new ways to express their sexuality through sharing intimate images.
- These new social norms have created new forms of abuse where women are usually the victims.
- Anonymity: Digital social spaces provide anonymity, which is great for free speech but can be stifling for nuanced debate and dialogue.
- They fuel the polarization of ideas while providing a free run for peddlers of misinformation.
- Cyberbullying: The impact of online sexual harassment could have long-term negative impacts on their mental health and well-being.
- Platforms need to design choices that help women stay in control of who they engage with.
- They should leverage open-source technology that detects and blurs lewd images so that women don’t need to see unsolicited pictures.
- There is a need to upgrade the existing cyber cells by setting up dark web monitoring cells and social media monitoring cells to tackle different types of cyber along with traditional police recruitments, there is a need to induct technical experts into the police force.
- The States should map the cybercrime hotspots which will help in the quick detection of crimes and taking proactive measures to prevent cybercrimes.
- We need to focus on safety tools and features across the spectrum of websites and apps.
- Public discourse around technology-facilitated abuse has to be elevated.
- There’s a need for new codes of ethics that define how tech and society interact to promote societal well-being.
- Users need to go beyond protecting their log-in details and one-time-passwords (OTPs) and enable safety measures such as two-factor authentication.
- This feature can be an effective safeguard against unauthorized access to online accounts; however, very few use it.
A Comprehensive solutions require a multi-stakeholder approach – tech developers should create responsible products that enable safety and privacy by design, and governments can enact regulations and policies that protect users’ rights while promoting healthy competition