Cyber volunteers to help Guj police check rumours on COVID-19

Gujarat Police have started

recruiting cyber volunteers in Ahmedabad and Surat to help in curbing the spread of hate content and rumours over coronavirus and lockdown on social media.

Over 5,000 people, including nearly 800 experts in IT, computer and forensic science, have responded in less than two weeks to applications sought by the Gujarat Police for recruiting them as "cyber volunteers, warriors and gurus", Additional Director General of Police, CID Crime, Shamsher Singh toldPTI.

"In the current situation, these volunteers are all the more important for us because of the fake news and hate messages being circulated on social media. These volunteers can flag such cases, and help us to take action against the offenders," Singh said.

The volunteers will help the police in prevention and detection of all kind of cyber crimes, he said.

Other districts of the state are also in the process of building their own teams of such volunteers.

Since the lockdown was enforced in the country to tackle the coronavirus pandemic, police in different parts of the state have registered more than 250 FIRs related to cyber crimes and arrested over 500 people for spreading rumours and hate messages on social media platforms, Singh said.

Five social media accounts have also been blocked, he informed.

The official said a large number of people responded to police applications for working as cyber volunteers, warriors and gurus and their credentials are being verified.

A 'cyber volunteer' is required to have knowledge about smartphone use, cyber crimes, social media and internet services, and will help police by raising issues related to cyber bullying, online financial fraud and pornography.

A 'cyber warrior' is required to be qualified in knowledge of computers, IT and forensics, andwill assist the police in the investigation of offences under the Gujarat Cyber Crime Coordination Centre.

A 'cyber guru' also must have higher qualification in computers, IT and forensic science, and will be required to impart training to police and in schools, colleges, universities on various aspects of cyber crimes, and create public awareness.

"A lot of people have responded to our call to volunteer for us and help in tackling cyber crimes. The Union Ministry of Home Affairs had also advised the police to involve citizens, experts and educational institutions to tackle cyber crime," Singh said.

This is a specialised crime and a lot of people are not even aware of it. Thereofore, experts are required to create a publicity campaign through the joint effort of citizens, academicians and NGOs, he said.

"These volunteers are cyber literate, and have their own social media accounts. They will be sharing advisories issued by the police to help increase their reach. They will also help us in detection of cyber crimes so that others do not dare do such a thing," the official said.

A cyber guru will teach police officers and help them in research on new crimes, because the nature of online offences changes every other day, he added.