years YouTube has won millions of hearts in India as a social media platform
especially among women. This is because unlike other social media websites, YouTube
has provided a platform to earn money based upon views and subscribers.
Contents uploaded by users may be varied: it can be home decor, power point
presentations of simplified versions of undergraduate subjects, subject lectures
by professional teachers or amateur subject experts, cooking recipes, Do It
Yourself (DIYs), home organisations, daily routines of home makers, technological
solutions, how to do stuffs etc . Several women have used YouTube to earn money
generated through the revenue that YouTube promises once the user can reach some
criteria like getting 1000 subscribers or 4000 watch hours etc. 
YouTube however would not lead the user to create contents that may earn more
watch hours or subscribers. Users may go for market survey to understand which
sorts of videos may attract more views, ,more subscribers etc. mostly new users
including men and women may try to create videos on anything that they feel
proper to share to the world. YouGTube , like Facebook and Instagram has
features for allowing users to create videos for private sharing. This enables
the users to share the video which may be watched only by those whom the
creator chooses. The users may however go for wide circulation of their contents
by not only making the videos public, but also by going live whereby the users may directly communicate
with their subscribers or may share information while live. Even though going Live may be a feature specifically
for improving the relationship between the user and his/her subscribers, live
videos can be watched by the world wide audience even if they are not
subscribers to that particular user. Here, YouTube may not play a vital role to
restrict uploading and sharing the contents unless the subscribers or viewers may flag the content as inappropriate. In short, YouTube may actually provide a wide
platform to share anything including bullying videos, mashed up videos, child and
woman abuse videos, birthing videos, adult sexual interaction videos and so on.
While the adult sexual videos and birthing videos may not be universally accessible
unless the user logs in to his/her YouTube accounts, other sorts of videos are accessible
to all irrespective of age. YouTube however uses the due diligence clause to
escape from any third party liability by providing notification which restricts
children from viewing adult sexual contents or violent contents which may
traumatise children. Hardly this has any
practical implication because children may access these videos by using email
ids which may be created on the basis of fake age , or may even log in through
their parents’ or friends’ email /YouTube ids.
attention here is however attracted to the contents shared by YouTubers: I have
been an avid watcher of YouTube since many years now. I have been following the
changing trends of users in uploading the contents. Earlier it was more on
creating mashed up videos which may have the potentials of violating the copyrights.
Such videos have also been silently encouraged by actors, singers and producers
because these actually publicise their work even though it may violate the
But slowly, the content creators, especially women started becoming reviewers
of products on YouTube as well. This included using of cosmetics, kitchen wares
organisers etc that may be shown in the daily routine videos, home organisation
videos or make up tutorials.
not only get views and subscribers as may be needed for fulfilling the YouTube
monetising criteria, they may also be connected with the brands manufacturing
the products or dealers of the products who may wish to showcase their products
through these non-professional videos. Several urban and rural women home
makers have actually benefitted from this: consider Youtubers like Radhika Real
who may be rural homemakers, but may have made a moderate to comfortable living
because of their YouTube videos advertising about different brands including retailer
brands. Nonetheless, these YouTubers may
also be victims of bullying and trolling for the quality of their videos, their
pronunciation, lifestyle and even house decorations.
While these women may have made a landmark professional/personal achievement because of YouTube, they may unknowingly violate privacy of their own children or even spouses or other family members as they may be showing and informing the worldwide audience about their family members who may not may consent for such wide distribution of images of themselves. These YouTube videos may also be the subject matter of bullying and ridiculing the children of such YouTubers since these may stay on worldwide web for long time. YouTube videos may also create severe domestic violence for several reasons which include live fights between spouses which may be captured by third party YouTubers for fun and uploaded and circulated for getting more views; or airing of grievances by women YouTubers against the other spouses, without knowing the far-reaching consequences etc. These videos may attract huge views and opinions, comments in the nature of cyber bullying and also trolling targeting the YouTuber concerned or supporters of the same. Consider the case of two specific youtubers from Delhi, who are spouses in real life : the wife is a senior YouTuber whereas the husband is a recent Youtuber: They had severe altercations and started living apart. But this was not enough: both used YouTube to throw insults and humiliating words to each other and their teen daughter was allegedly dragged in between. The recent reports suggested that the teenager girl who was staying with her father for couple of months after the separation, was beaten by the latter while on live and her t-shirt was torn in a manner which would show her inner wares. The girl was beaten because she wanted to visit her mother. This video became viral as several supporters of the wife started showing the clippings through their own channels. Some had also informed ChildLine and the police who had rescued the teenager and sent her to her maternal grandmother. There are several other YouTubers who started discussing about incident using the profile name of the husband wife duo. While the news report published in the local news media suggested that the teenager was often beaten by both the parents when they were drunk and she was forced to come on live which she refused many times, the news clipping did not mention about the name of the girl and that of her parents as S.74 of the Juvenile Justice Care and protection Act, 2015 prohibits publication of the identity of the child in need of care and protection or child in conflict with law. The provision reads as below:
S.74. Prohibition of publication of name, etc., of juvenile in conflict with law or child in need of care and protection involved in any proceeding under the Act.-1. No report in any newspaper, magazine, news-sheet or visual media of any inquiry regarding a juvenile in conflict with law or a child in need of care and protection under this Act shall disclose the name, address or school or any other particulars calculated to lead to the identification of the juvenile or child nor shall any picture of any such juvenile or child be published: Provided that for reasons to be recorded in writing, the authority holding the inquiry may permit such disclosure, if in its opinion such disclosure is in the interest of the juvenile or the child. 2. Any person who contravenes the provisions of sub-section (1), shall be liable to a penalty which may extend to twenty-five thousand rupees.
Now, let us understand the scope of this provision in the light of this particular case: the first subsection prohibits any report including news report, inquiry etc from disclosing the name, information etc of the concerned child. The second proviso extends the scope to ‘anyone’ who may contravene the prohibitory scope of S.74. Seen from the perspective of electronic media and the concept of citizen journalism, which gives every one right to share information, the term ‘anyone’ may literally include anyone including the good Samaritans who may have wanted to alert the concerned authorities, share their opinion against such acts of women and child abuse. Further, note the words “any other particulars calculated to lead to the identification of the juvenile or child nor shall any picture of any such juvenile or child be published” mentioned in the first sub clause. This may include the name of the concerned child and names of the parents. But apparently, this provision became a just a paper tiger in this case because those who had watched or subscribed to the videos of the couple had already known about the identity of the teenager because of the daily Lives put up by the parents and discussion about the girl in the videos posted by them. If one visits the comment section of the recent videos of both the parents in the recent past, it would be seen that commenters have taken the name of the girl, asked about her whereabouts and in some cases, some had also suggested about her changed behaviour after she had stayed with her respective parents separately. Nothing is confidential for those thousands of worldwide audiences now who had watched the parents daily and who had also witnessed the Live video where the girl was beaten up by the father. In spite of repeated request by the mother of the girl, several YouTubers still did not take down videos mentioning about the name of the father (which broadly falls within the meaning of “any other particulars calculated to lead to the identification of the juvenile or child”) when this writeup was published. While the Juvenile Justice Care and Protection and Act provides a base rule, the concerned YouTubers may not be held solely responsible because the parents already violated the privacy of the teenager and encouraged thousands to watch the couple fight which had every potential to attract penal provisions for using words etc for harming the modesty of the wife under S.509 Indian Penal Code as well as defamation of both the wife and the husband under Sections 499 and 500 of the Indian Penal Code. YouTube on the other hand has not taken down the videos of either of the spouses or that of the other YouTubers which may showcase the names of the parents and the child because it is guided by First Amendment of the US which may hardly be affected unless YouTube has been approached to take the videos down by concerned stakeholders.
It is now
a typical love triangle of three parties : YouTube, which is loved by all for
providing such an open platform for airing opinions and consumption of real
life family dramas, the YouTubers who may expect to get support, views,
popularity and money because of participating in the trolling and independent
discussions on such issues which may rip open privacy of general individuals including
children and criminal justice machinery, most of whom may never know how to
manage legalities of YouTube videos because they are completely ignorant of
this new type of electronic media.
But this is
not a unique incident that attracts the attention of legal researchers,
especially privacy law and speech law researchers. YouTubers, especially women YouTubers
continue to violate privacy knowingly or unknowingly and provide more opportunity
to trolls, bullies and offline perpetrators to victimise them because they may
not be aware about the netiquettes of YouTube. Time has come that YouTube users
become cautious of the contents uploaded by them and legalities attached with
such uploading and sharing. In this festive season YouTube content uploading
and sharing may have seen a steep rise. But it is upon YouTubers to control
what must be shared and may not.
is more powerful than televisions, more demanded than movies and more
devastating than what is generally apprehended.
example see Halder D., & Jaishankar K. (2016) Celebrities and Cyber Crimes:
An Analysis of the Victimization of Female Film Stars on the Internet. Temida –
The journal on victimization, human rights and gender. 19(3-4), 355-372
Man in Derbyshire uploads distributes breast pictures of his neighbor who borrowed the computer to upload the pictures for medical purposes. while returning the computer, she forgot to delete them.Accused shared the pictures because he was allegedly irritated by the victim. The court convicted the accused of revenge porn. Held that the pictures were not captured by the accused for sexual purposes, but were distributed for taking revenge. The court, which took note of the victim’s distress condition, ordered the accused is ordered two months prison sentence, 80 hours of unpaid work and restraining order prohibiting him to connect with the victim. https://www.derbytelegraph.co.uk/news/derby-news/derby-man-sent-revenge-porn-3280054
Pornhub owner earns money from the revenue generated through advertisements, rejects the claim that they allow revenge porn contents on their websites. But the reality is different. Victims state even police can not help in preventing uploading of revenge porn in such websites and detecting the perpetrators. Website liability is questioned. https://www.bbc.com/news/technology-49583420
Online trolling is one of the most prominent types of cyber victimization of women in the present age and it is least taken care of by criminal justice machinery. It is indeed the most prevalent form of abuse against women and it’s an alarming human rights issue. Online abuse of women may include various forms including bullying, trolling, stalking, misogynist comments, racial bullying etc. Trolling have heavy potential of damaging honor or reputation of women. Trolling can be defined as ‘an extreme usage of freedom of speech which is exercised to disrupt the community discussions in social networking sites and which is done to deliberately insult ideologies such as feminism, secularism etc.; of the topic starter or the supporters of the topic starter.’ In this digital era, most people consider internet as a podium which provides them the anonymity to victimize others. As a result, the potential perpetrator including the troll is often encouraged to create more havoc with the victim’s life and freedom. Unfortunately, the internet has always been a hostile place for women. Trolling including misogynistic trolling is one of the worst forms speech which has often escaped the clutches of law due to carious reasons . Trolling not only infringes privacy of the victims, it also affects women’s right to participate in economic, social and political affairs. Women in India have reported facing severe online abuse on the socio-verbal platform #Twitter. Trolls have used racial, sexist, homophobic or misogynist to belittle or degrade women’s identity or social status. In most instances, trolls may be complete strangers who would come up for trolling for fun . Unfortunately there is no focused law for regulating trolls or trolling. The exact nature and scale of online abuse by women because of trolling in the Indian context is still under-researched. Amnesty International’s Decoding Project, “Troll Patrol India” is currently researching on this very issue. This project is encouraging researchers/ volunteers to analyse the nature of trolling and report the trolls . It has been noticed that pre and post general elections 2019 in India, there were huge incidents of trolling targeting women including female politicians, journalists, lawyers etc . The social media platforms such as Twitter where the instances of online abuse are most prevalent, need to take responsibility of protecting human rights of women to ensure that women using this platform are able to freely and fearlessly express their thoughts. The Troll Patrol India Project has engaged over 1500 Decoders from all over the country that has analyzed over 4 lakh comments that include homophobic language, explicit sexist, racist, ethnic or religious slurs. Misogynist, racist trolling is showing no sign of slowing down especially towards the women. Amnesty International’s Decoding Project aims to research on typology of abusive Tweets targeting women. The project will form a considerable pool of research to impart light on how these trolls may dissuade women from freely posting their views on online platforms such as Twitter. In recent times, there have been many ‘women in tech’ initiatives, and things are changing ponderously but it is important to make the internet a safer platform for women. After all, it is necessary to protect the freedom of speech and expression of every woman by ensuring them their online privacy and a safe online environment. The need of the hour is to tackle online violence against women very seriously to uphold women and their enshrined rights in India. Surely, the intermediaries must have to play a bigger role in reaching out to this balance to provide women their online safety.
Bhati. BBA-LLB, 3rd year, Unitedworld School of Law, Karnavati
University. The author is also a project member (Amnesty Decoder) of the
Amnesty Decoding Project, Amnesty International India. The author
can be reached @ firstname.lastname@example.org
**This write up has been conceptualized by
the author from the Amnesty Decoding Project.
 Halder, D.
(2013). Examining the scope of Indecent Representation of Women (Prevention)
Act, 1986 in the light of cyber victimization of women in India. National
Law School Journal, Vol. 11, 118-218 at p. 196.
Two men get arrested under Sections 20 (offences against the dignity of a natural person), 21 (offences against modesty) and 24 (cyber stalking) of the Prevention of Electronic Crimes Act (Peca), 2016.and Section 109 (abatement) of the Pakistan Penal Code (PPC) for harassing women with objectionable contents over WhatsApp in Pakistan https://www.dawn.com/news/1503129
35 year old Philippine woman who was arrested in July, 2019 for sending photos of her 4 year old son being sexually abused through an online messaging platform in lieu of money, is now sentenced for jail for 25 years by Philippines court. The woman is also sentenced to pay fine and damages. https://www.sunstar.com.ph/article/1821966
Information communication technology and digital communication technology have opened up new vistas for human relationships. The innovative technology with the help of Artificial Intelligence (AI) can now read minds, predict illness, predict crime occurrence, enhance the professional and social network, and help in better analytical understanding of subjects. But it can also leave devastating impacts on human life. It can alter the data (including personal data), harm social reputation and can even instigate victims to take extreme steps like committing suicide. All these may be done by positive and negative usage of artificial intelligence which plays the base role for empowering Apps which in turn may be used for positive and negative usages. Artificial Intelligence (AI) has been used by web companies like Facebook for facial recognition of users earlier. AI has also been used for companies (other than web companies) for processing employee data. In short, AI has been used to access private information of individuals either consensually or without consent. Here are three ways as how AI may create an uncomfortable situation for women specifically in India :
Recognition Apps and harassment of women: Remember the time when Facebook suddenly
started asking for nude photos individuals for upgrading their own safety
system apparently for providing safety mechanisms for subscribers? This
project was intended to build up a safety mechanism against revenge porn with
the help of Artificial Intelligence. Facebook wanted to empower their
subscribers, especially women to report revenge porn. But before that, the
company wanted to ensure that the revenge porn content showcased the image that
belonged to the victim specifically. The facial recognition app, the skin
texture, hair color, biometric recognition technology would be matching both
the images (the nude picture of the victim and the revenge porn content created
by the perpetrator) and would be identifying the revenge porn content as illegal.
But this project received stern objections because there were more possibilities
of misuse of nude photos than positive use of the same. Facebook -Cambridge analytica
case did prove that nothing is impossible when it comes to preservation of data
by body-corporates and data of individuals is always profitable and the security
of the same is vulnerable. But this may
not seem to be as dangerous as misuse of Face App may seem to be . FaceApp is
basically used to change the face structure of the person whose photograph
would be used in this App. It can change the texture of the skin and density of
hair including facial hair. In July,
2019, FaceApp became the center of concern for Indian cyber security
stakeholders especially when several celebrities started using FaceApp and
started showcasing their changed faces on Instagram. While FaceApp was basically being used for
fun purposes, it may also throw challenges for data safety and security of
person concerned. FaceApp helps to change the structure of faces. But we should
not forget that the altered facial image can be saved in devices and cloud of
different individuals. This altered image may be used for several illegal
activities. Predators may unauthorizedly access the social media profiles and
change facial images of the victims to create fake profiles; they may also use
such images to create a completely new impersonating profile to harass women.
Altered facial images of women may also be used for revenge purposes especially
when the victim is looking for opportunities in the entertainment or
advertisement sector where her appearance may be considered as her biggest
asset. Apart from this, FaceApp may be used to attract bullies and trolls to
intensify victimization of women.
back the memory: No one, but the web companies clearly remember what we posted
in last summer. Every day social media companies would show what was posted by
the user a year back or a couple of years back and would gently remind the user
that he/she can share the said post as a memory. How does it happen? The web
companies look for algorithm and the highest likes and comments for posts on
daily or even hourly basis. When the posts earn more likes and comments, the AI
decides to bring it forth. In certain situations, such refreshing of memories
might not be ‘wanted’ at all especially when the victim might had a bitter
ending of the relationship with persons in the said image or the text in
question may no longer evoke good memories, but rather traumatize the victim
more. But machine intelligence does not fail the company: it is a matter of
consent and choice after all. But consider if the account is unauthorizedly accessed:
the hacker may get to know something from the past which the victim may never
wanted the hacker to know.
the user about best low prices : AI runs over the internet like blood vessels
carrying oxygen all over the body. When a user decides to compare prices of any
product or services, AI helps to share the same almost always on any platform
the user would be visiting. It might be extremely embarrassing for any woman if
such searches start showing results when she is surfing the social media or
even the search engine with a friend or another individual. Nothing is left by
the AI from prices of lipsticks, hotels at cheaper rate, flight details to last
watched videos on how to conceive. This might also make women face
discrimination, office bullying and harassment due to several reasons.
These are but some of the many ways as how AI may make
women to land in trouble. AI is necessarily connected with data privacy protection
policies of web companies. The EU General Data Protection Regulation, 2018
provides that personal data may not be processed without the consent of the
owner of the data.
But in this case, there can be legal tangles as web companies may claim that they do not breach the data
confidentiality or transfer the data to any other jurisdiction, neither they
process the data without proper authorization. Here, multiple stakeholders may
be involved which may include the original owner of the content or the picture
which may have been processed for the purpose of harassment : the perpetrator,
who may have carried out changes on the data using the AI supported Apps,
perpetrators who may have unauthorizedly
stored the altered contents, picture or information or may have used the
altered information, picture for creating impersonating profile etc. As per
Indian legal understanding, altering, modifying etc of contents/ information/ image
/images without proper authorization of the original owner of the information etc may attract penal provisions
under the Information Technology Act, 2000 (amended in 2008): these provisions
may include Ss 43 (Penalty and compensation for damage to computer, computer
system etc, ), 66 (computer related offences, 66C (punishment for identity
theft) and 66D (punishment by cheating by personation by using computer
resource etc. This may also attract penal provisions for Copy Right violation
as well. Further, the web companies may be narrowly be liable for protecting
data properly under several provisions including S.43A which speaks about body
corporates liability to protect data. But irrespective of existing provisions,
web companies may always escape the clutches of law due to due diligence clause
and on the question of consent expressly or impliedly provided by the woman
victim concerned. In the EU, courts are becoming more and more concerned about
policy violations by web companies to fool the users. In India too, the courts
must throw light on the web companies responsibility as data repository. Regulations
like Data protection Bill, 2018 must be considered with utmost care. These may
have the key to solve problems of online victimization of women.
Also, women users need to be extremely cautious about machine intelligence. Awareness must be spread about how the hidden ‘safety valves’ of the web companies (which may actually make the web companies more powerful against claims of lack of due diligence) may be used properly.