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How are we checking child porn, Rajya Sabha panel asks Google and Twitter

The committee had met Facebook, TikTok on December 20 to hear their thoughts on the subject

Neha Alawadhi  |  New Delhi 

Internet ban
TikTok was asked about misuse of their platform to spread pornographic content. Representative

An ad hoc committee of the Rajya Sabha met executives from online social media platforms Google, and ShareChat, as also the HERD Foundation, on the “alarming issue of pornography on social media and its effect on children and society as a whole”.

According to a person present, the MPs asked the companies about ways to curb on their respective platforms. The meeting was attended by Rahul Jain, the India manager for public policy at Google; India policy head Mahima Kaul; Berges Malu, head of public policy and policy communications at Indian language content platform ShareChat; and Amol Deshmukh and Suchika Gupta of HERD Foundation.

Another person aware of the discussion said one of the executives suggested something on the lines of the Children's Online Privacy Protection Act in America. That law is designed to limit the collection and use of personal information about children by operators of internet services and websites. The executive also suggested a body like the Federal Trade Commission in the US which regulates online media platforms.

Google was asked about its search platform and what steps it has taken. HERD Foundation, which focuses on research on social issues, presented a report on how to tackle the issue, including using blockchain to track offenders.

The committee, under the chairmanship of Congress leader Jairam Ramesh, had met Facebook, TikTok and other government representatives on December 20, on the same subject.

had, in that meeting, apprised the committee of its partnership with the Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission, which can be notified by the public or media persons there if they get added into WhatsApp groups containing illegal content such as pornography.

TikTok was asked about misuse of their platform to spread pornographic content. Such companies have been under scrutiny by both parliamentary committees and different ministries of the government, on issues such as elections, citizen privacy and data, and so on.

This ad hoc committee, set up by Rajya Sabha chairman Venkaiah Naidu last month, is looking at possible legislative provisions to address online exploitation of children. Parliament was informed in its winter session that 377 websites hosting hadbeen taken down, while 50 police cases have been filed in cases of online sexual exploitation of children.

Also, the Central Bureau of Investigation set up an online Child Sexual Abuse and Exploitation Prevention and Investigation Unit in Delhi last month, under its Special Crime Zone.

The committee is likely to give a report based on its interactions with stakeholders later this month.

What Happened

*Ad-hoc committee set up after AIADMK MP Vijila Sathyananth raised it in the House

*Members include Vinay P Shasrabuddhe, Jaya Bachchan, Rajeev Chandrashekar, MV Rajeev Gauda, Roopa Ganguly, Tiruchi Siva among others

*Panel had said it would meet with officials from TRAI, CERT-In, tech companies and civil society groups among others

*Committee expected to hand in its report by mid-January

*Committee also looking at legislative solutions

First Published: Mon, January 06 2020. 19:28 IST
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