Tag: cyber crime against women

Gender and Internet: Web-magazine for cyber law for women news update for cyber crimes and laws for women for May 1-5th, 2019

Woman trying to shame other woman for wearing short dress, gets shamed due to viral video in Gurgaon, India.
https://www.news18.com/news/buzz/video-of-woman-saying-girls-wearing-short-dresses-should-be-raped-sums-up-indias-victim-blaming-culture-2123663.html

Teacher accused of lewd conversation with girl students in Harlem, USA
https://nypost.com/2019/05/02/harlem-teacher-accused-of-lewd-conversations-with-18-students/?fbclid=IwAR3hKc6hO02N0VsYb5KVvvgSBLrTgKMaAMbtb7aHtpbAYSqaRBbVM7EUwK0

Dating on social media platforms turn nightmares for women irrespective of exiting laws in India
https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/hyderabad/cyber-stalkers-blackmail-shame-prey-after-social-media-love-sours/articleshow/69192021.cms

Weekly news update April 23-30, 2019

April 23-30

Four men arrested for wife swapping after woman files complaint in Kerala
https://www.newsnation.in/crime-news/kerala-wife-swapping-four-men-arrested-woman-files-complaint-fir-sexual-activities-sharechat-kayamkulam-article-222412.html

‘Digital Strip Searches’ for rape victims raise privacy issues in United Kingdom
https://www.forbes.com/sites/thomasbrewster/2019/04/29/police-ask-rape-victims-to-hand-over-phones–are-these-digital-strip-searches-necessary/#40f96668460a

Singapore’s voyeurism problem and cyber crimes against women
https://www.channelnewsasia.com/news/singapore/singapore-voyeurism-problem-spy-cam-sex-harassment-monica-baey-11487244

Computer: Basic legal understanding

BY : Dr.Debarati Halder, LL.B., M.L., Ph.D(Law)(NLSIU, Bangalore)

During the Board Exams in 2019, several exam centers across the country including Gujarat, found unique “cheating” ways by student examinees: many had smart watches which was used to download the answers. They had apparently accessed the answers by simply tapping on the watches which revealed the answers; some had gone to the wash rooms and clicked pictures of the question papers to send circulate it to their aides who would instantly send them the answers via communication apps.[1]

We can see here two types of “computers” : a smart watch which would not only show time and date, but also can store images/contents and display the same through its screen; a general mobile phone which can take pictures, store the images, circulate information, receive signals and information and display the same to the user. As such, the meaning of the word “computer” has been  expanded to include many things which previously were not considered as a “computer”.

Computer is an inherent part of our lives now. It has not only made our lives easy, it has also created many security risks as well. While many may agree with the first part of the above mentioned statement, they may not agree with the second part of the statement : the main reason behind this is, many may not know the basic definition of computer as per legal terms. Popularly, the term computer has many simple definitions; for example, according to Cambridge dictionary, computer is an electronic machine that is used for storing, organizing, and finding words, numbers, and pictures, for doing calculations, and for controlling other machines.[2] Again, whenever anyone searches the meaning of computer on Google, one of the first definition that appears is computer is  “an electronic device which is capable of receiving information (data) in a particular form and of performing a sequence of operations in accordance with a predetermined but variable set of procedural instructions (program) to produce a result in the form of information or signals”.[3]

 The definitions would show the common understanding about computer. Hence it may be explained as follows:

  • It is an electronic device.
  • It can receive, store and process certain data or information
  • It may be operating under the command of certain person
  • It needs to have procedural instructions for operation
  • It can control other machines
  • It can be connected with devices
  • It may necessarily have input and output devices

Computer therefore may mean any electronic  device which may perform several functions of receiving information, storing, processing etc of data and performing some other functions  including operating other machines which may get connected with the main computer through electro-magnetic  mechanisms. Seeing from modern perspectives, computer may necessarily mean an electronic magnetic device which may be connected with internet.

Presently, computer is being considered as one of mechanism to perform crimes online as well as offline.  But computer as a machine may never be considered as a “perpetrator “because this is infact “used” to commit crimes. It is therefore necessary to understand how the term has been defined by laws:

The 2001 EU Convention on Cyber Crimes, also known as Budapest convention, defines “computer system” as follows:

  • Any device or a group of interconnected or related devices,
  • one or more of which, pursuant to a program,
  • Performs automatic processing of data.

What we get from it is, computer system means

Now let us see how the Indian Information Technology Act, 2000(amended in 2008) defines it:

S.2(i)  of the Information Technology Act , 2000(amended in 2008) defines the term “Computer” .  it says  “Computer” means any electronic, magnetic, optical or other high-speed  data processing device or system which performs logical, arithmetic, and  memory functions by manipulations of electronic, magnetic or optical  impulses, and includes all input, output, processing, storage, computer  software, or communication facilities which are connected or related to the  computer in a computer system or computer network

Hence, this definition explains the term from 4 main aspects:

  • Nature : any electronic, magnetic, optical or other high-speed  data processing device or system
  • What does it perform :  performs logical, arithmetic, and  memory functions
  • How does it perform the task :  by manipulations of electronic, magnetic or optical  impulses,
  • What else can it do: and includes all input, output, processing, storage, computer  software, or communication facilities which are connected or related to the  computer in a computer system or computer network.

As such, it may be seen that there are several devices which may be termed as “computer”, including:

  • A simple mobile phone which is not a smart phone, but can store data like phone numbers, SMSs, images etc.
  • Smart phones
  • Smart digital cameras
  • Ipads, laptops, desktops, pen drives, smart TVs , Smart toys etc.
  • Any other electronic gadget which has the facilities of input, output, processing, storage, computer  software, or communication facilities which are connected or related to the  computer in a computer system or computer network

All of these can be used for committing cybercrimes including monetary crimes, crimes against women and children, crimes involving infringing privacy, cyber stalking and even cyber terrorism.

Hence, be careful while buying and activating all electronic gadgets, buying second hand gadgets and also while using such gadgets. Misuse of such gadgets for ulterior purposes may attract imprisonment which may be as high as life imprisonment in certain cases.

Stay safe, be safe !

Note: Please do not violate the copyright of this blog. If you wish to use it for your assignment/ writeup/ research etc, please refer  it as Halder Debarati (2019) Computer: Basic legal understanding. Published in Gender and Internet @ https://internetlegalstudies.com on 11-03-2019


[1] See for more @https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/home/education/news/board-exam-2019-students-caught-with-smart-watch-and-mobile/articleshow/68338515.cms Accessed on 10.03.2019

[2] See https://dictionary.cambridge.org/dictionary/english/computer. Accessed on 02-01.2019

[3] Retrieved from https://www.google.com/search?rlz=1C1CHBF_enIN822IN822&biw=1366&bih=608&q=Dictionary#dobs=computer  on 02.01.2019

Women’s Day, 2019 : Views of a #webwonderwoman

webwonderpic

Picture Curtsy: https://www.ndtv.com/india-news/centre-honours-30-web-wonder-women-for-driving-reforms-via-social-media-2003833?fbclid=IwAR0h6TDvuaPHOP_mFZuq2Z3Tbk8szdy–8inqBOiBqhd4bVpo7rTudLeY1s

 

In a late afternoon in the last week of February, 2019 I received a message from Ministry of Women & Child Affairs, Government of India congratulating me for winning the #webwonderwomen award in the category of Legal/policy . #Webwonderwomen is an initiative of Ministry of women & Child, BreakThrough India, an NGO which works for women and girls and Twitter to honor 30 women  from diverse fields who had used Twitter positively for spreading awareness, reaching out to people in need and above all, advocating for women empowerment. Among the 30 women were women activists, lawyers, journalists, sanitation & public health activists, food blogger & nutritionist, film maker, activist promoting breast-feeding, women government officials and myself, who works for victims, especially women victims of cyber crimes.  There were different heartwarming  as well as heart breaking stories told by award winners ; they shared stories of  failures and success, happiness and pain, the feeling of being ridiculed by others because of their support to other women. No wonder, I have also gone through the same while executing my wish to help victims of cyber crimes: I have been cyber  bullied, stalked, trolled and threatened by men and women for my work . I have been asked ridiculous questions regarding my “attachment” with the virtual world. Finally with this award, I could prove that being on Twitter or Facebook or Instagram or on internet as a whole for more than the time allotted for general women by their families and societies is not that bad. I have an “unlimited” (in regard to time)  access to net and my husband respects my time on net.  I am fortunate to make this space. I have seen many women who are not allowed to be on net for more than a limited period by their families especially men folk, who may be enjoying (consuming) avatars of other women when their women enter the ‘restricted time period’ for net surfing on a daily basis.

This women’s day is special because as #webwonderwomen awardee I have become a proud ambassador of the Ministry of women and children affairs like my fellow award winners. This is also special because on the very day when I received the award, I saw nothing changed when it comes to cyber crimes against women. While going through the newspaper that very morning, I noticed two news items which  made me think how womens day becomes meaningless for several thousands of women victims of cyber crimes : one was regarding a gang rape survivor who came across the clipping of her own rape scene and dared to walk into the police station to report not only about the physical rape, but also about the virtual consumption of her physical assault by many. The second was about duping of a woman in a renowned matrimonial site . None of these incidents is new for me. However, I salute the rape survivor who took the matter to the police. She must have undergone severe secondary victimization and traumatization by now just like the other victim that I mentioned above. We do not know what would happen to them later: how far the police and prosecution  may help  them ? with a limited legal awareness and fear of  societal taboo, many victims like these two have to withdraw their cases and disappear.

Women’s day is necessarily  related to The Convention on elimination of all forms of discrimination against women (CEDAW), which was adopted by the UN general Assembly in 1979 and which defines discrimination against women as “…any distinction, exclusion or restriction made on the basis of sex which has the effect or purpose of impairing or nullifying the recognition, enjoyment or exercise by women, irrespective of their marital status, on a basis of equality of men and women, of human rights and fundamental freedoms in the political, economic, social, cultural, civil or any other field.”  The scope of this definition has automatically expanded to include gender discrimination, misogyny and abuse of women’s rights online.  I was more interested in the award ceremony because of Twitter as its  partner.  Social media like Twitter, Faceook , Instagram, YouTube etc are used for women empowerment. But they are notorious platforms for victimization of women. This year’s theme for International women’s day is “Think equal, build smart, innovate for change” , which signifies women empowerment in the field of technology and innovative work by women and men alike for gender equality and betterment of  situation of women across the globe. This won’t fructify unless web companies take the responsibility of  providing safety against gross abuse of women. As women activists, many of us know that there more takers of CEDAW; but how many States are actually ensuring proper implementation of laws especially for women victims of cybercrimes is a question that needs to be researched. There is no uniform law to recognize several cyber offences against women. Majority of countries have no laws for prevention of cyber bullying, stalking, impersonation  of women, online sexual offences  targeting women.  Sexting and revenge porn still fall in the grey line in majority of the countries. It is still considered a taboo for women to watch porn ; women who are caught watching porn/porn contents  are severely moral policed by the society . But on the other hand, when men watch porn including revenge porn and nonconsensual porn, it is still considered as normal because unless the websites flag them as illegal , men (and in certain cases women and  children too) may not be prevented even by the courts because apparently the victims would not have moved the police and / or the courts for taking action to take down the offensive contents .   Majority of these victims may be completely unware of the fact that they have been made subjects of  online consumption as ‘sex items’. Consider the case of  socio-economically poor  women who may be trafficked and their videos of having sexual activities may be floating for many years without making them understand how they are being ‘consumed’ by millions.[1]

“Think equal, build smart, innovate for change” would be possible only when the society including the government stakeholders  as a whole come together to take a holistic step towards preventing cyber victimization of women and creating safe place for women and girls online and in real life.

Wish you all, a very happy WOMEN’S DAY . Lets “Think equal, build smart, innovate for change”.

 

[1] See for example Halder D., & Jaishankar, K. (2014). Online Victimization of Andaman Jarawa Tribal Women: An Analysis of the Human Safari YouTube Videos (2012) and its Effects. British Journal of Criminology, 54(4), 673-688. (Impact factor 1.556). DOI: 10.1093/bjc/azu026.

 

Please Note: This blog was first posted @   “Halder D. (2019), ” Women’s Day, 2019 : Views of a #webwonderwoman”  8th March, 2019 ,@https://debaraticyberspace.blogspot.com/2019/03/womens-day-2019-views-of-webwonderwoman.html?spref=fb&fbclid=IwAR1-zH4VuTEEisNLYWogvHvMDOfWDduzkGWvlRl05_CzfopCRtF9OJ3tLTc

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Trolling on Instagram photos: Should women restrain from uploading personal pictures?

CYBER CRIME AGAINST WOMEN BY DEBARATI HALDER

Image curtsy : Google

 

Off-late I have been getting to see many incidences of trolling on personal pictures of individuals, especially women on Instagram. These photos may include photos of young women and girls in trendy clothes, showing more skin than expected by orthodox societies. Such pictures may attract the attention of self-acclaimed moral police trolls who wish to condemn women for their choice of outfits; these trolls use extremely harsh words which may even go to the extent of threatening women for their choices. They may even broaden their harassment pattern by sharing the target pictures through different profiles to defame the victims, threat the victims and create many more morphed images of the victims and this may go on till the victims reach a stage to withdraw from the social media. This indeed generates various levels of criminal liability, some of which have been addressed by laws in India. Apart from self-acclaimed moral police trolls, several women have also complained of fashion police trolls who intentionally data mine and troll women, whose fashion sense according to the trolls is not upto the mark. Unlike the moral police trolls, the fashion police trolls  may not create security or life risking threats, but they may definitely target the reputation of the victims and  their self-esteem.

 

Now let us see what sorts of harm or damage can be done by both types of trolls:
trolling can creation of threat, intimidation
trolls necessarily create posts which are defamatory; these can be teasing remarks  and extremely  insulting comments
trolling can result in reputation damage, violation of privacy, unauthorised access to data, copyright violation (in certain cases)
Trolls are necessarily bullies. But bullying and trolling are not the same. Trolling can be more vicious than bullying. Trolling infact attracts more perpetrators and more victims in the same thread. These victims and perpetrators may not be known to  each other  previously; resultant, the new “victims” who may have joined the thread to support or disagree with the primary victim  may finally put all blames to the primary victim for the victimisation by way of trolling. Trolling is more public than bullying. As such the effects of trolling may be more traumatising than bullying. Trolling can not only damage reputation of the primary victims, trolls may go a long way to harass cyber bystanders or commenters who may support or disagree with the victims as well as with the trolls. The situation worsens if these bystanders or commenters are women; trolls may threaten these secondary victims with legal consequences (for aggravating the issues) which may force the latter to withdraw from social media just like the primary victims.
This may adversely affect women’s usage of Instagram : Instagram unlike Facebook may instantly help the user to get connected with people/group with common interest especially when the user uses the hashtags. The pictures/videos armed with hashtags may help the user to reach a wider audience. Several people including women aspiring to showcase their creativity in fashion industry, upcoming models, actors singers, anchors, performers etc, who use the platform for getting connected with the industry people, mentors and a wider audience, may suffer hugely if trolls attack them on Instagram. Victims may not only feel completely withdrawn, they may also be pulled into unnecessary legal tangles especially if the trolls misuse their pictures which may have been uploaded by the victims for promoting certain brands (which in turn may not appreciate such negative publicity of their product).
        But this in no way should mean that women should restrain from uploading pictures on Instagram. There are several ways to protect the privacy, reputation and the copyright of the pictures of the users :
1.  Women and girls should always opt for privacy options in Instagram. This may reduce the responsibility of the users and increase that of the website. The victims may directly charge the websites for not applying due diligence and  neglecting the security features which should have restricted unwanted people from infringing the privacy and copyrights. Further, in case the women wish to make the profiles open for public and had been harassed/trolled/stalked/unauthorisedly accessed etc, the victims must report the matter to the websites. The websites would not be letting the victim know the about the original identity of the harasser in case the profile is that of unknown person/s; but they would be duty bound to repair the damage, i.e. , restrict the unauthorised circulation of the image of the victim and generating anymore message that may harm the reputation of the victims. S.79(3) of the Information technology Act, 2000(amended in 2008) (exceptions to exemption from liability of intermediary in certain cases)  may be applied in such cases.
2.  Indian laws do not recognise online trolling and bullying as separate offences. This definitely had created problems for proper justice delivery to the victims. However, basing on the modus operandi for trolling several penal provisions may be applied; for instance, S.509 (punishment for harming the modesty of women), 507 (criminal intimidation by anonymous person), 499 and 500 (defamation and punishment for the same), 354D (punishment for stalking including cyber stalking) of the IPC may be used for posting intimidating, insulting, defamatory comments, stalking, creating threats etc.
3.  If trolling results in creation of Fake avatars especially sexually explicit contents, obscene contents etc, and if this involves unauthorised access to data, manipulation of data etc, the police may also apply provisions including Ss. 43(unauthorized access to the computer, data etc) 66 (punishment for computer related offences), 66C (punishment for fraudulently using password, unique identification features etc of any other person), 66D (punishment for cheating by impersonation), 66E (violation of privacy)(incase the picture has been used to create morphed pictures/images), 67 (punishment for creating sexually explicit contents), 67A (punishment for creating obscene contents ) of the Information technology Act, 2000(amended in 2008), S.354C IPC(punishment for voyeurism) etc. Police may also necessarily apply provisions from Indecent representation of women (prohibition )Act, 1986 for indicting the accused for indecent representation of the victim online.
Some of the above mentioned laws are non bailable and cognizable. This means that trolling may not be considered as a simple offence especially if it results in heavy offences including creation of sexually explicit contents ( the contents include not only the images, but the texts as well) etc. As such, women should not refrain from using Instagram fearing trolling. But they must be aware of their rights against trolling and the duties of the websites.
Let us unite against misogynist trolling. Let us spread the message that trolling, its modus operandi and its consequences should not be taken lightly and the criminal justice machinery must emphasise with the victims of trolling.

 

 Please Note: Do not violate copyright of this blog. If you would like to use informations provided in this blog for your own assignment/writeup/project/blog/article, please cite it as “Halder D. (2018), ” Trolling on Instagram photos: should women restrain from uploading personal pictures?” 15th January, 2019, published in http://debaraticyberspace.blogspot.com

 

Need for a model prohibitory provision for preventing and punishing Cybercrimes targeting women

CYBER CRIME AGAINST WOMEN BY DEBARATI HALDER

The festive seasons not only bring joy and happiness, but also brings tinges of tensions, disappointment, frustrations and unnecessary worries especially for women and girls. This is because of the negative use of digital and information technology; women and girls may be photographed inappropriately, touched inappropriately and may be photographed in such conditions, they may be stalked, their data may be unauthorisedly accessed and misused and over all, they may also be targeted for revenge porn. It may generally happen even during non-festive seasons too. But during the festive seasons such off-line and online harassment targeting women may increase more. In my previous research I have observed that this may happen due to two main reasons : lack of strict central laws relating to public place photography and engagement of the police force in crowd management. It may necessarily become almost impossible to protect every woman and girl in the crowds from the perpetrators who may be digitally empowered to violet the privacy.  The second reason plays a major role in motivating the perpetrators to take the harassment of women and girls online so that victims may not be able to understand the impact of victimisation immediately; simultaneously the perpetrators may not only satisfy their sadistic ego by harassing women and girls online, but may also gain unethically by  supplying the voyeur pictures and clippings to adult sites and even to YouTube. By the time  the victims understand and feel the impact of victimisation, their reputation may have been badly damaged due to viral spreading of the images.  
A year back the ministry of women and children rolled out project for portal to complain about online harassment. But this could neither reduce the alarming growth of online victimisation of women. The reason could be ill drafted laws and poor execution of the existing laws. These ill drafted laws may include S.66A of the Information Technology Act, 2000(amended in 2008) which prescribed punishment for offensive, annoying etc speech, which was later scrapped off in the case of Shreya Singhal vs Union of india & others (however, the Information Technology Act has not been amended so far to either amend or delete this provision from the present version of the Provision); Ss. 354 C and D of the Indian Penal Code which speaks about voyeurism and cyber stalking, S.509 of the Indian Penal Code which speaks about word gesture etc about harming the modesty of women etc.[1]I have also created a model law for penalising revenge porn and had submitted the same to the ministry of women and child affairs.[2]However, no step has been taken on this so far even though revenge porn does exist in the Indian cyber space context as well.
It needs to be noted that the internet has provided a broader platform for expressing views and opinions and women are using it share their opinion on various issues including sexual harassment that may have been meted out to them through Me too movement. But this would definitely have another side of the coin. Many women may prefer to bring up the issue of sexual harassment on public platforms through social media; but the accused persons may neither leave these victims on the cyber space. They may try to counter attack them through trolls, bullies and hired-hackers who may try to vandalise the victims reputations online by infringing the digital privacy of the Me Too fighters. This in other ways may also affect the documentary evidences that the victim/s may have saved in their electronic devices for further court proceedings.
At this juncture It is time that  the existing law must be amended to include provisions for offensive communication and revenge porn. On behalf of Centre for Cyber Victim Counselling a  draft model Law  is proposed as below:
Model law for prohibiting Cybercrime against women
Chapter 1 : preliminary
S.1 Extent and purpose:
It extends to the whole of India.
It has been seen that even though Criminal Law Amendment Act, 2013 has introduced several new provisions for the safety of women, but still there exists lacuna. Further, the Information technology Act, 2000 (amended in 2008) also failed to prevent crimes against women which include cyber bullying, trolling and revenge porn.
In view of the above, this model law is proposed to bring amendment to (a) the present provisions especially in the Indian penal Code (specifically in Ss. 354 C & D) and insert new provision for prohibiting and punishing revenge porn, (b) amend and introduce new version of S.66A to create preventive law to prevent offensive communication including bullying, trolling, online harassment etc against women and individuals in general, (c) to introduce special provision in the Information technology Act, 2000 (amended in 2008) to provide confidentiality to the victims.
Chapter 2 : Proposed amendments
S.2 Insertion of a new provision on Revenge porn:[3]
The model Revenge porn prohibitory provision :(This can be included in Chapter XVI of the Indian Penal Code as S.354E, which may be inserted after S.354D (stalking)).
1.    Anyone, who in order to satisfy his anger and frustration for a broken relationship, takes revenge  through publishing, transmitting, conveying, publicizing false and sexually provocative portrayal of his/her victim, by misusing the information that he may have known naturally and that he may have stored in his personal computer, or that which may have been conveyed to his electronic device by the victim herself, or may have been stored in the device with the consent of the victim herself; and which may have been done to publicly defame the victim essentially, commits the offence of revenge porn.
2.    Whoever commits the offence of revenge porn, shall be punished in the first conviction with imprisonment of either description for a term which shall not be less than one year, but which may extend to three years, and shall also be liable to fine of not less than 1 lakh rupees and pay reasonable compensation to the victim for damaging his/her reputation in real life and online. If he be punished on a second or subsequent conviction, he shall be punished with imprisonment of either description for a term which shall not be less than three years, but which may extend to seven years, and shall also be liable to fine of not less than 5 lakh Rupees and reasonable compensation to the victim.
 Provided that the perpetrator must also be liable to remove the offensive image either original or morphed, irrespective of the fact whether the image was conveyed to him by the victim herself or not, from his own electronic device/s and from the websites and social media profiles where he may have uploaded the same for the purpose of taking revenge.
Provided further, that the investigating officer shall immediately after coming to know of the offence of revenge porn committed by the perpetrator as reported by the victim or anyone on behalf of the victim, contact the concerned website to remove such contents including any text accompanying the image/s which may falsely portray the victim.
Provided further that if the website concerned fails to cooperate with the police on being alerted by the investigating police officer and also if the website concerned fails to remove the content within 36 hours  after being alerted by the victim herself, the said website would not be exempted from third party liability as has been explained under S.79 of the Information Technology Act, 2000 (amended in 2008) and would be liable to pay compensation to the victim for an amount not less than Rs. 5 lakhs and also fine.
Explanation:
In Subsection 1, the words “publishing, transmitting, conveying, publicizing false and  sexually provocative portrayal of his/her victim” shall include  publishing, transmitting, conveying  any image of woman whether nude, semi-nude or normal to anyone individual and/or to any website including social media, with an intention to take revenge on that said woman.
(Rationale behind proposing a new law: Why S.354C IPC would not be able to regulate revenge porn:
1.    S.354C IPC speaks about voyeurism which is inclusive of “private acts” whereby victim’s private body parts may be shown. It does not mention anything about publishing/conveying/morphing etc of pictures of women for taking revenge. The ultimate motive, i.e., taking revenge is absent here.
2. S.354C does not speak about morphed pictures published/conveyed/transferred etc for gratifying revenge. In cases of revenge porn, majority of the offensive images may be morphed. This has neither been covered under S.66E of the Information Technology Act.
3.    Creation of revenge porn may be done with normal, innocent, un-morphed pictures as well. In such case, we need to look into the accompanying text that describes the image. For example, a normal picture of the woman victim may be published with a text describing her as “horny”, “Prostitute”, “my sexy wife during honeymoon”(when in reality, the woman is not married to the perpetrator, or even if married, did not allow publication of such normal photo with such text ).
4.    Revenge porn differs from non-consensual pornography as well. Non-consensual pornography is a larger term which may include revenge porn, voyeurism or even sexual slavery including forcing the woman to be captured naked for some unethical gain. Hence, revenge porn needs a separate definition.)
S.3.  Amendment to the definition of voyeurism under S.354C of the Indian Penal Code (punishment for voyeurism) : In the place of “Any man”, it should  Any one and the amended provision should be  read as follows:
Any one who watches, or captures the image of a woman engaging in a private act in circumstances where she would usually have the expectation of not being observed either by the perpetrator or by any other person at the behest of the perpetrator or disseminates such image shall be punished on first conviction with imprisonment of either description for a term which shall not be less than one year, but which may extend to three years, and shall also be liable to fine, and be punished on a second or subsequent conviction, with imprisonment of either description for a term which shall not be less than three years, but which may extend to seven years, and shall also be liable to fine.
Explanations:   For the purpose of this section, “private act” includes an act of watching carried out in a place which, in the circumstances, would reasonably be expected to provide privacy and where the victim’s genitals, posterior or breasts are exposed or covered only in underwear; or the victim is using a lavatory; or the victim is doing a sexual act that is not of a kind ordinarily done in public.
  
Where the victim consents to the capture of the images or any act, but not to their dissemination to third persons and where such image or act is disseminated, such dissemination shall be considered an offence under this section.
S.4. Amendment to S.354D of the Indian Penal Code (punishment for stalking including cyber stalking): In the place of Any man, it should be anyone. The amended version should be read as follows:
1) Anyonewho—
   follows a woman and contacts, or attempts to contact such woman to foster personal interaction repeatedly despite a clear indication of disinterest by such woman; or
   monitors the use by a woman of the internet, email or any other form of electronic communication,commits the offence of stalking;
 Provided that such conduct shall not amount to stalking if the man who pursued it proves that—
it was pursued for the purpose of preventing or detecting crime and the man accused of stalking had been entrusted with the responsibility of prevention and detection of crime by the State; or
  
it was pursued under any law or to comply with any condition or requirement imposed by any person under any law; or
  
in the particular circumstances such conduct was reasonable and justified.
 (2) Whoever commits the offence of stalking shall be punished on first conviction with imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to three years, and shall also be liable to fine; and be punished on a second or subsequent conviction, with imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to five years, and shall also be liable to fine.
(Rationale behind broadening the concept of perpetrator for Ss.354 C&D: It has been seen that women may also commit voyeurism and cyber stalking for victimising fellow women.  This amendment may help reduce such sorts of victimisation.)
S.5. Insertion of new provision prohibiting photography of individuals in general without the consent of the individuals concerned (this may be inserted after S.268 of the Indian penal Code as S.268A)
1. Anyone who uses his camera devices in any public place to capture the images of anyone including men, women, children, people belonging to LGBT groups, with a motive to either sexual gratification of the self, or sexual gratification of others, or uses these images for unethical gain, or for ridiculing or causing hatred,  defamation , damage to the reputation of the said persons by way creating, circulating, spreading etc of such images through electronic medium  without the consent of  such men, women, children  or member of LGBT group when the said men, women, children, or member of LGBT group are  not expected to give consent and/or not expected to be alert for not allowing such photography,  and also publishes, transmits, circulates the same through electronic medium shall be punished with an imprisonment  of either description for a term which shall not be less than six months r, but which may extend to one year , and shall also be liable to fine of not less than 20 thousand  rupees and pay reasonable compensation to the victim for damaging his/her reputation in real life and online. If he be punished on a second or subsequent conviction, he shall be punished with imprisonment of either description for a term which shall not be less than one  year, but which may extend to three years, and shall also be liable to fine of not less than 50 thousand Rupees and reasonable compensation to the victim.
 Provided that the perpetrator must also be liable to remove the non-consensual offensive image either original or morphed, from his own electronic device/s and from the websites and social media profiles where he may have uploaded the same for the purpose mentioned above.
Provided further, that the investigating officer shall immediately after coming to know of the offence mentioned above committed by the perpetrator as reported by the victim or anyone on behalf of the victim, contact the concerned website to remove such contents including any text accompanying the image/s which may falsely portray the victim.
Provided further that if the website concerned fails to cooperate with the police on being alerted by the investigating police officer and also if the website concerned fails to remove the content within 36 hours  after being alerted by the victim herself, the said website would not be exempted from third party liability as has been explained under S.79 of the Information Technology Act, 2000 (amended in 2008) and would be liable to pay compensation to the victim for an amount not less than Rs. 5 lakhs and also fine.
Explanation:
In Subsection 1, the words “capture images” shall also include  capturing images of accident victims and doing so without offering any help to the victim, any other heinous, serious or petty crimes and doing so without reporting the matter to the police and offering help to the victim, capturing images of  rape or sexual molestation or sexual assault of any women or children, taking self portraits or selfies in the above situations.
Explanation 2: The act of capturing the images of men, women, children and members of the LGBT groups may not be considered as an offence if the same is done for academic and research purposes, provided the person/s capturing such images has prior consent of proper authorities, or for medical research purposes or for the purpose of creating documentary evidences which must be provided to the criminal justice machinery including the courts for further legal actions to punish the wrong doers.
S.6. Amendment to Information Technology Act, 2000(amended in 2008):
Punishment for offensive speech (this can be inserted after S.66 (offences related to the computer) of the Information Technology Act, 2000 (amended in 2008). This may also be considered as the amended version of S.66A (punishment for annoying etc speech), which was scrapped off by the Supreme court in Shreya Singhal’s case)
1.      Anyone who sends, posts produces, publishes, creates, circulates or sponsors to be circulates  any offensive speech including any text or cartoon or caricature or image accompanied with text to any woman by way of electronic, digital and information communication, which may damage her reputation, damage the reputation of her family and  children create threat to her, her family and children, damage her reputation to an extent that may affect her job or may affect her reputation in the prospective job, shall be punished with an imprisonment for in the first conviction with imprisonment of either description for a term which shall not be less than one year, but which may extend to three years, and shall also be liable to fine of not less than 1 lakh rupees and pay reasonable compensation to the victim for damaging his/her reputation in real life and online. If he be punished on a second or subsequent conviction, he shall be punished with imprisonment of either description for a term which shall not be less than three years, but which may extend to seven years, and shall also be liable to fine of not less than 5 lakh Rupees and reasonable compensation to the victim.
 Provided that the perpetrator must also be liable to remove the offensive speech from his own electronic device/s and from the websites and social media profiles where he may have published etc the said speech targeting the woman.
Provided further, that the investigating officer shall immediately after coming to know of the offence of posting, publishing etc of the offensive speech committed by the perpetrator as reported by the victim or anyone on behalf of the victim, contact the concerned website to remove such contents including any text accompanying the image/s which may falsely portray the victim and damage her reputation.
Provided further that if the website concerned fails to cooperate with the police on being alerted by the investigating police officer and also if the website concerned fails to remove the content within 36 hours  after being alerted by the victim herself, the said website would not be exempted from third party liability as has been explained under S.79 of the Information Technology Act, 2000 (amended in 2008) and would be liable to pay compensation to the victim for an amount not less than Rs. 5 lakhs and also fine.
Explanation:
For the purpose of this section, offensive speech targeting women shall include the followings:
1.      Any speech which lowers the moral character of the woman concerned within the meaning of Article 19(2) of the constitution of India.
2.    Any speech which defames the woman concerned in the society as a whole within the meaning of Article 19(2) of the constitution of India as well as Ss.499 and 500 of the Indian Penal Code and Indecent representation of women Prohibition Act.
3.    Any speech which includes Cyber bullying. Cyber bullying  may mean attacking anyone with harsh or rude  words in the cyber space, including publicly available web platforms, social media, private and public  chat rooms, emails, blogs etc, and such harsh or rude words are particularly made to ridicule one’s body shape, gender, gender orientation, physical or mental incapability, race, colour, opinion, educational background, language  etc.
4.    Any speech which includes Cyber trolling. Cyber trolling is  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.
5.     Any speech which contains Cyber hate propaganda. Cyber hate propaganda may mean offensive communication between the sender and multiple recipients with intent to spread hatred against a particular individual for her opinion, race, gender etc.
It is expected that if this model Act is considered by the government, the growing rate of cyber crimes against women may be brought down.
Please Note: Do not violate copyright of this blog. If you would like to use informations provided in this blog for your own assignment/writeup/project/blog/article, please cite it as “Halder D. (2018), ” Need for a model prohibitory provision for preventing and punishing Cybercrimes targeting women”  22ndOctober 2018 , published in http://debaraticyberspace.blogspot.com


[1] My observations on these laws can be found in my book. (Cyber Crimes against Women in India. New Delhi: SAGE Publishing. ISBN: 978-9385985775, https://in.sagepub.com/en-in/sas/cyber-crimes-against-women-in-india/book253900  (co-authored with Professor K.Jaishankar.
[2]See the model law @Halder.D(2017) Criminalizing Revenge Porn From The Privacy Aspects: The Model Revenge Porn Prohibitory Provision. Available @
[3]This was published in supra@2

5 key factors about hacking and the laws

CYBER CRIME AGAINST WOMEN BY DEBARATI HALDER

Photo curtsy: Google 

Hacking is undoubtedly one of the worst issues that one wants to deals with. Often I get to see women complaining about hacking of their social media accounts, people including men and women fearing about and getting victimized by way of hacking of their email accounts , net banking profiles and overall, the computer devices. New netizens are more prone to getting victimized by hacking; so are their parents if these netizens are pre-teens or teenagers. It is important to know some key factors which are associated with hacking. These are as below:
The five key factors which everyone should know about hacking:
1.    The term hacking is not defined in any uniform style. Different researchers have defined hacking in different ways. All most all academic definitions have indicated that computer hacking or cyber hacking may mean unauthorized access to the computer, computer data etc, changing the data without any authorization etc. In a way, it is directly related to unauthorized data privacy infringement. A ‘smart’ example could be the allegedly unauthorized access into the personal documents including bank access details of the TRAI chief by the ethical hackers when the TRAI chief threw challenge that  ADHAR ‘hack proof’.[1]
2.    Indian laws especially Information Technology Act, 2000 (amended in 2008) does not address the issue as “hacking”. The issue is dealt with by not one, but three Sections, namely, Ss. 65 which prescribes punishment for tampering with computer source documents, 66, which prescribes punishment for computer related offences and 43, which speaks about Penalty and compensation for damage to computer, computer system etc.
3.    Hacking may literally start with unauthorized access or securing to the computer, computer system, computer network etc. Accessing or ‘securing access’ can be done by various ways. This may also include giving way to the hackers by opening suspicious mails/messages or links. It is for this reason that new users of internet and digital technology must be extremely cautious while opening suspicious mails/links etc.
4.    Hacking may also include downloading/extracting data etc, modifying such data, reproducing that data in an altered form etc. It may also include unauthorized access to the computer or computer system or data etc and infecting the same with viruses which will immediately or gradually destroy all data, software etc stored in the computer and computer system. Hacking may necessarily include unauthorized accessing and then using of the computer network, email id, phone number or social media profile for impersonating and unethical gain. It is for this reason that often people complaint about hacking when their accounts have been unauthorisedly accessed, data extracted/accessed and modified and email ID/social media profiles etc are used for impersonating by way of a fake avatar.
5.    Hacking may also involve denial of services, which is why a computer or computer system  thus affected may not get connected to the internet easily and according to the wish of the real owner of the computer or computer system etc, but according to the wishes of the hacker only.
Now you may understand that when your computer shows activities which are not generally expected, you must be alarmed that your computer or the computer network or the computer system has been affected by hacking : typically your device may slow down for no reason, you may start getting to see that the data is altered, your net banking account or email or social media account’s password and username and the related phone number and email id may get changed without your authorization, your documents including your photo may get published or circulated elsewhere without your knowledge. Most scary of these is the camera device of your phone or laptop or Ipad (when they are on switch on mode) etc may become active even when you are not using the camera. It is for this reason that  cyber security experts suggest to not to use the electronic devices when one expects complete privacy from the outside world, like when one is in the washroom.
So, what about the punishment?
Do Indian laws address hacking as “hacking” ? The answer is NO.  But this does not mean that the act of hacking is not punishable.  As discussed above, when the constituting elements mentioned under points nos 3, 4 and 5 create unauthorized access to the computer, computer system,  data etc, Sections 65, 66 and 43 may immediately be applicable for booking the offences for tampering the computer source code, computer related offences and damage to the computer  system etc. As such there are two types of punishments that are prescribed for hacking related offences : punishment as per civil offences which are regulated by S.43 and punishments as per criminal nature of the offence, which are regulated by Ss. 65 and 66. In the later, the punishments may include imprisonment for a period upto three years  and/or fine which may extend to Rs. two lakhs. In case S.66 is applied, then the fine amount increases upto Rs. 5 lakhs. Again, if the act of hacking is judged as per S.43, then the provision would be read with S. 45 of the Information technology Act, which indicates that, a maximum of Rs. 25, 000/ may be paid as compensation to the victim for such offences (this is especially so because S.43 does not mention any specific amount of compensation and this lacuna is filled by S.45 which prescribes residuary penalty).  However, the recent trend may show that most of hacking related cases had been booked under Ss. 66, 65 and 43 so that the perpetrators may undergo jail term as well as are bound to pay fine.
Interestingly, the Information Technology Act does not restrict the criminal liability to a specific age as is seen in the Indian penal code. Hence, even if it is a computer genius as young as 10 or 12 years of age, he/she may not escape the clutches of law in case he/she has done the offence/s which may constitute hacking. Considering their age and maturity level, Juvenile Justice  (care and protection) Act , 2015 may also be applicable.  Again, this would NOT mean that parents would be considered completely innocent. Very recently the courts in Gujarat had made the parents liable for underage kids driving two and four wheelers.  If the children are arrested, the parents may have to pay for negligence in monitoring the wrong doing of their children.
I end this piece with a positive note: if we adults are aware, then our children will also be aware and we can prevent the digital as well as real life privacy infringement in a swift way.

Please Note: Do not violate copyright of this blog. If you would like to use informations provided in this blog for your own assignment/writeup/project/blog/article, please cite it as “Halder D. (2018), “ 5 key factors  about hacking and the laws”  3rd September, published in http://debaraticyberspace.blogspot.com


[1] See Rachel Chitra(2018), Hackers deposit Re 1 in Trai chief’s account. Published in https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/hackers-deposit-re-1-in-trai-chiefs-account/articleshow/65190556.cms on 30/07/2018

Recording sexual assaults and rape in mobile phones: How laws fail to control growing sexual assault on women and children

CYBER CRIME AGAINST WOMEN BY DEBARATI HALDER

Picture curtsy: Google


17 men including a 66 year old lift operator allegedly continued to rape an 11 year old girl for months in Chennai, Tamil Nadu. The gruesome episode of “aggravated penetrative sexual assault” (as S.5(g) of the Protection of children from Sexual offences Act, 2012 explains, whoever commits gang penetrative sexual assault on child, is said to commit aggravated penetrative sexual assault) came in light in mid July, 2018 when the victim confronted about it first to her sister and then to her parents.[1] This is not the first time that aggravated child sexual assault has been reported from  metro cities which may boast of rigorous campaigns against any sort of sexual violence against women and children by government as well as non government stake holders. This will neither be the last time. Sexual assault against women and children is a social epidemic which happens in every society, in eastern, western, northern and southern hemisphere. Sexual assault on women and children whether aggravated or non aggravated, may be caused due to various psycho-social reasons: while on one hand researchers relate this to pervert mind set of human beings, on the other hand, several examples related this to misogynist mindset, caste oppression, class oppression etc. However, what is more concerning is the growing tendency in the assaulters to record the sexual assaults in their digital devices. In the Chennai case, the assaulters allegedly raped and recorded each another’s act of raping of the child victim. These videos were used to blackmail the child to prevent her from reporting and surrender to more sexual assaults. Often it is asked as why do these rapists, sexual assaulters, physical assaulters and bystanders record the incidents?
        We do have one answer: these videos are made to blackmail and threaten the victim so that she would be surrendering to the assaulter’s demand for more sex.  These videos actually create something which many of us know as non-consensual porn (and not revenge porn necessarily). Noticeably, one of the main aims of the POCSO Act was to curb pornography, especially child porn materials. Ss. 13 and 14 of the POCSO Act therefore spoke about creation of child porn materials using children in any form whether or not such contents may be used for self gratification or for circulation for unethical profit and punishment for the same. On the other hand, if the victim is an adult, one may have to club up Ss.375 (rape), 376D(gang rape), 354 C (voyeurism) of IPC, Ss.66E (violation of Privacy), 67 (punishment for publishing or transmitting obscene materials in the electronic form) , and 67A (punishment for publishing or transmitting sexually explicit materials in the electronic form) to address the issue of creation of gang rape videos. However, as may be seen in several reported cases of sexual assaults, rapes and gang rapes, such existing laws could hardly do anything to control the (pervert) human minds from creating sexual assault videos. While in majority of the cases, such videos are made to blackmail the victim/s, possibilities of other reasons for creation of such videos cannot be ruled out; these reasons could be as follows:
Ø Using the same for self sexual gratification post the physical act of raping, sexually assaulting women and children.
Ø Using the same as erotica for sex-service providers including sex workers from whom these assaulters may ‘buy’ sex.
Ø Showing the same as sexual valour to ‘friends’.
Ø While the above may be used for non-profitable reasons, such videos may also earn good money for the creators/producers if the same is circulated for consummation by consumers of ‘porn videos’ of deep dark net.
Ø In certain cases these videos may also be used to threaten members of socially and economically (extremely) backward communities so that such members do not get indulged in any activities that may have been prohibited by  so called ‘social norms’ which may not have any legal support.
In my recently published monograph titled Child sexual abuse and protection laws in India (published by Sage, (https://uk.sagepub.com/en-gb/eur/child-sexual-abuse-and-protection-laws-in-india/book263196) I have shown how sexual contents available in the cyber media including digital messaging services, social media websites and adult websites may impact on the adolescent minds who may have been brought up in a restricted, orthodox society where sex education itself may be considered as a taboo.
The existing laws here miserably fail to prevent creation of sexual assault videos because the perpetrators may remain anonymous creators/publishers. Interestingly, the Telecom Regulatory authority of India (TRAI) allows an individual to have multiple numbers of SIM cards. Even though the mobile network services are now being activated only on verification of Adhar data, there still remains a policy gap which allows customers to get “free Sims” which may have been pre-owned, swap Sim cards with other holders who may not be using such Sims for legal purposes etc. Along with this, the possibility of spreading the said video/s virally on the net also creates a huge problem to identify the real publisher/creator of the video. The courts may prescribe punishment in such cases by identifying the accused in the videos and on the testimony of the victim and the perpetrator himself that the video was created during the rape /sexual assault. Indeed the role of cyber forensic examination may not be denied here. But that may involve a lengthy process especially when the investigating officer may not be aware about the whole mechanism. But unfortunately no law can practically prevent any assaulter from recording the crime when it is happening. Resultant, more videos/still images may be created and may remain unnoticed as long as the investigating team may explore all possible devices and networks through which the same was/were created, stored and circulated, which is practically impossible.
Facebook has come with face-recognition mechanism to prevent online circulation of sexual assault/rape /revenge porn materials. Other social media websites may also follow the same method. But what we need to know is such videos may not always be circulated through such websites. As I mentioned above, they may be stored in multiple devices or may be made viral by networking services including  digital messaging services. As such, the government stake holder like the TRAI, manufacturers of smart phones, hi-tech digital devices, digital messaging service providers, telecom service providers and other international mobile network service providers must join hands in creating a solid policy to identify mechanisms to prevent misuse of the digital device equipped with camera, the Sim cards and of course the mobile and digital network and communication services.
Please Note: Do not violate copyright of this blog. If you would like to use informations provided in this blog for your own assignment/writeup/project/blog/article, please cite it as “Halder D. (2018), “ Recording sexual assaults and rape in mobile phones:  How laws fail to control growing sexual assault on women and children”  20thJuly, published in http://debaraticyberspace.blogspot.com

Judges, cops and civil servants: Can they have Social media friends in reality?

CYBER CRIME AGAINST WOMEN BY DEBARATI HALDER

Image courtesy: Internet 

In the fag end of May, 2018, news channels flashed the story of Major Nitin Leetul Gogoi, the army man who is hero to some and villain to some because of his controversial act of tying a Kashmiri man to a jeep using him as a human shield against the stone –pelters who were targeting army actions in Kashmir last year. He became (in)famous to many because the clippings of his controversial act became viral on the web. He grabbed the headlines again this month because of his controversial Facebook friendship with a Kashmiri woman who, the media says was trying to check in   with the Major and another person in a local hotel in Kashmir. It was reported that the said woman had claimed that she knew the Major through Facebook and his account was not in his real name. We know that social media including Facebook is used for secret surveillance by the government agencies and it has positive and negative aspects as well. Fake accounts are used by the police to detect and trap criminals including paedophiles, fraudsters and even terrorists.
But here, I am not actually concerned about pattern of use of social media by the government officials. I am concerned about professional ethics of certain categories of government servants who may not be allowed to befriend common people like what social media offers. This category may include judges belonging to higher and lower judiciary, government officials belonging to certain all India services including group A and B of central services etc.
Let me explain it broadly here:
Since ancient times judges are considered to be of high moral and judiciary is considered to be “an institution of integrity”. Several judgements including K.P.Singh vs. High Court of H.P. &ors,[1]High Court of Judicature for Rajasthan vs. Ramesh Chand Paliwal,[2]Tarak Singh vs. Jyoti Basu,[3]etc had established the fact that judges are expected to be like hermit, they should be honest and should “adhere to a code of moral value”.[4]In short, they should be inapproachable personally but approachable as an institution to be impartial. What does this mean? Judges cannot be on par with general individuals who may approach the institution of justice, i.e., the courts for seeking justice. They should not make themselves individually or privately approachable so that the possible litigants, who may approach their  courts, may not influence him. It is the principle of fair justice which to a large extent governs the code of conduct of judges. But we need to remember that in this era of social media, any individual can hardly be out of the net . While it is still expected that judges should not make themselves privately approachable, I myself have loads of Facebook friends who are in the judiciary. They share opinions, their personal photos with their chosen friends just like any other individual. But yes, their circle of friends may not be as big as any other common social media user. Many of them are directly connected with the Facebook pages of District legal services authorities, which not only spread awareness about legal rights, but also showcase performances of the particular government offices.  However, I do not have Facebook friends from higher judiciary, but nonetheless, many of “Their Lordships” may be easily approachable because of  digital messaging services like WhatsApp, which may be used to create ‘groups’ as well.[5]World wide this has become a cause of concern now; it has been suggested by many that judges while in service, should try to avoid social media as this may pull them in unnecessary trouble and make floodgates open for questioning their integrity.[6]But again, we can neither ignore the strong (social media) presence of judges like Justice Markendey Katzu, former Supreme Court judge who had courted controversy because of his blog posts, social media posts for strong criticism of court decisions.[7]Doesn’t this show that he may still be considered as falling in the ‘restricted netizen’ category even as a retired judge? Probably yes because he may never be seen as a general individual who may criticise judges and their judicial understanding of cases by virtue of his being a judge himself who is expected to not to lower the respect the judiciary; probably no, because he may still use his right to speech and expression to express his displeasure for the judgements which according to him, are not fare. But still then, he could not be equal to general individuals: the court questioned his act towards publishing post in social media criticising court’s decision in crucial cases like the final verdict of the sensational case of Soumya, who was killed by her rapist.
       High level civil servants including bureaucrats, officers of Indian Police Services etc have a high presence in the social media too. Most of their accounts may be private accounts. But there are several pages of their offices which may be made by their respective offices. This actually shows that even though the government and the courts continue to question data policy of social media companies like Facebook or Twitter, these social media sites are very much involved in government outreach mechanisms: for example, see the websites of certain city police offices/headquarters; all may show their Facebook presence. http://ahmedabadcitypolice.org/, https://www.bcp.gov.in/ ,http://www.tnpolice.gov.in/CCTNSNICSDC/Index?0 ; all may have their Facebook and twitter pages where individuals may access for information and even to reach out concerned police offices for immediate lodging of complaints. But private accounts of IAS or IPS officers are not connected with these pages. This means that they have a separate private presence in the social media. Their friends, their posts and their photographs are their private affairs just like any other general individual who may use social media sites for reaching out to friends. But still, they may not be out of surveillance for their conduct in their private social media accounts. Their children may also be held accountable for sharing parents’ pictures which may raise questions about their integrity: erstwhile J&K DIG Beig invited hoards of controversy when his son posted certain pictures of his dad which raised media storm because the posts suggested that Beig was abusing power.[8]Even though the son removed the posts, the pictures and hashtags were made viral and they are still available on internet.  It may actually mean that these officers may not have a private life even in social media. Gogoi in the same way, may also not have that privacy even if he may claim that he and the woman in question personally knew each other and this friendship was neither professional, nor was an abuse of power for harassing the girl offline or online.
In short, why such friendships between officers and civilians, their online presence and activities may raise questions at all? Misuse of power to harass and exploit civilians especially women could be one primary reason for such enthusiasm. But in case the friendships are genuine, posts by the officials reflect their personal and independent opinions and photographs shared in their social media sites are personal memoire , why they should be targeted and who makes these posts (in)famous for public and media? It is those ‘friends’ who may knowingly or unknowingly feed the enthusiastic ‘third persons’ by sharing /showing the private posts that may appear in their time line feeds. Remember Merin Joseph, the young IPS officer from Kerala who being a police officer herself, could not remain safe online? She had to encounter fake profiles with her picture, trolls and misogynist posts even though she was sharing some posts as a private person and not as an on duty officer. Trolls attacked her  posts and albums, some of which were not for public viewing. Privacy may be myth for these public servants  especially when they are active  in their private  social media accounts. Compared to 1990’s public servants have become more accountable now because of their web presence. After each UPSC result declarations, the social media accounts of successful candidates may immediately come into lime light. It works positively because their conduct becomes more transparent to public; it works negatively because they may slowly lose privacy being within the private social media account. The very much private personssuddenly come under lime light as not only the common people , but also the media starts data mining  to know them more than what is expected to be known. One name which comes in my mind right now is of Sandeep Nanduri, IAS, who is presently the District magistrate and collector of Tuticorin district. He had taken over as DM and collector Tutircorin at a very crucial time when the district was having agitation over Sterlite copper industries plant closure issue. Nanduri’s Facebook account may reveal his activities as a government official as well as a private individual. This may further mean that not only he himself, but his wife may also be targeted by trolls, stalkers and miscreants who may wish to approach him.
Untill now there is no clear-cut code of conduct framed for restricting judges and grade A and B officers of central government or even state government services from using social media (except  for certain issues like restriction from spreading hatred, criticising the government in certain key issues, leaking confidential data etc) and befriending  common people. They however may have to rely on the social media policies for data protection. But again, in such cases, they may be held responsible for choosing their virtual friends. We should not forget that there are instances  of honey trapping of government officials by ISI secret services; this may however show that privacy of the government officials may easily be breached if they themselves are not vigilant enough for their social media ‘friends’. There are clearly two arguments which may made in this regard: (i) such government servants may be completely barred from making themselves available to ‘public’ through their private social media  accounts , (ii) being part of  digital India movement they must be approachable to people through social media as well. However, considering the privacy and security aspects, I feel it is high time that government  makes a clear  policy as how they should be protected from predators and how they should conduct even when they are ‘privately public’.

Please Note: Do not violate copyright of this blog. If you would like to use informations provided in this blog for your own assignment/writeup/project/blog/article, please cite it as “Halder D. (2018),Judges, cops and civil servants: Can they have Social media friends in reality?”3rd June, 2018, published in http://debaraticyberspace.blogspot.com


[1]LPA No. 163 of 2009
[2] (1998) 2 SCC 72
[3](2005)1 SCC 201
[4]See for more in http://hpsja.nic.in/ethics.pdf. Accessed on 26.05.2018
[5] For example, see Maniar Gopi (2017),Vadodara: Gujarat HC slams VMC commissioner for sending WhatsApp message to judge. Published in India today on Semptember 8, 2017 https://www.indiatoday.in/india/story/vadodara-gujarat-hc-vmc-commissioner-whatsapp-message-judge-1040341-2017-09-08
[6]For better understanding, see Singh Shaziah (2016), FRIEND REQUEST DENIED: JUDICIAL ETHICS AND SOCIAL MEDIA, Published in Journal of Law, Technology & the Internet · Vol. 7 · 2016. Accessed from https://scholarlycommons.law.case.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1099&context=jolti on 25.05.2018
[7]For more understanding, see Vaidyanathan.A (2017), Justice Markandey Katju Submits Apology In Supreme Court Over Post Criticising Soumya Verdict, published in https://www.ndtv.com/india-news/justice-markandey-katju-apologises-to-supreme-court-over-post-criticising-soumya-verdict-1645845 on 06-01-2017. Accssed on 25-05-2018
,.
[8]For example, see Bashaarat Masood (2014),J&K DIG’s son posts photos of ‘Dad & I’ enjoying perks of power, published in http://indianexpress.com/article/india/india-others/jk-digs-son-posts-photos-of-dad-i-enjoying-perks-of-power/ on Octiober 29,2014. Accessed on 25.05.2018

Making pregnancy vlog? Beware! You may be feeding the porn consumers

CYBER CRIME AGAINST WOMEN BY DEBARATI HALDER

Often it is told that womanhood comes to full circle when a woman becomes a mother.  Being a mother either biologically or by way of adoption is indeed a unique experience because it not only gives the joy of nurturing another life, it may make the woman more responsible in every sense.  For every woman the phases of motherhood bring special moments. For some, these phases may start right from the day of conceiving, for some it may start when she decides to adopt a baby, for some it may start right from the moment of the birth of the baby. In this digital era many couples (especially women) like to capture the moments of motherhood by making digital photo albums or vlogs . In India this phenomena is rapidly catching up. Pregnancy photo shoots, baby birthing photos and videos, new born photo shoots etc are trending now a days. YouTube  and Instagram are chosen platforms to upload such videos or images. YouTube especially  provides wonderful opportunity to easy creation of amateur vlogs. YouTube users may also use specific tags for listing the video with certain steams like pregnancy and child birth, medical learning, fitness during pregnancy, know hows  of child births and neo natal care by new parents etc. Many of such users love to share such vlogs or images (through other social media platforms and digital messaging apps ) with their virtual friends and groups. I personally have come across several of such videos and images which may have been as old as 2, 3 or even 5 years.
But they may not bring back the good old memories always. Pregnancy and child birthing videos and images are hugely consumed by porn industry consumers as well. Several researches on pornography including non-consensual and revenge porn have shown existence and growth  of different sorts of porn contents which may include black porn, older women porn, nude porn, voyeur, amateur porn, big belly porn and preggo porn. The last one, i.e. preggo porn is actually made with women showing different types of pregnant belly formation, sloth movement of pregnant women with huge belly, (supposedly) movement of the baby within the belly and the corresponding gasping or painful twitching of the body of the pregnant woman and necessarily the breasts which may be half covered. These contents are made by porn actors who may or may not  be pregnant in real life. Generally these porn actors may be clad in under wears right from the beginning of the video to give an impression of real life birthing scenes. Several videos may also show women slowly removing dresses: such videos may actually give impression that the woman suddenly developed labour pain at home or at some place other than the hospitals. All such videos may have similar tag lines like the original pregnancy and birthing videos, i.e., pregnancy, child birth. The ancillary tag line could be ‘fake’ or ‘prank’ or ‘sexy preggo’. As such, these taglines may also pull the real pregnancy and birthing videos in the pool of sexually consumable contents.
Getting sexual gratification from the birthing scenes and scenes of labour pain is indeed a sign of perversion.  But what is more disheartening is how the porn industry has grown preggo porn stream on the basis of this perversion. If one notices the comment sections of such videos, one may see that the woman in the video may be asked to act more accurately in the next video, the woman may also be asked  to make videos with different pregnancy postures and sounds of pain which may create more erotica. The producers and actors of these videos may earn a good profit depending upon their presentation and ‘perfect’ acting. Unfortunately the real pregnancy vlogs may also be consumed with equal ‘interest’. The new mother  may get trolled in the comment section for her belly shape or for taking too much time to make the ‘birthing sounds’ or ‘labour pain’ moments which may be sexually gratifying for the ‘consumers’ of the videos. Some may even get trolled for ‘wasting time’ of the viewer. Often the creators of genuine vlogs may not get time to look into the comments which may be extremely disturbing for any new mother. Even if the creator would have disabled the comments, the links of the videos may still be shared with a malicious object to consume it as porn.
While the ‘victims’ may definitely take the matter to the websites for removing the offensive posts or to the police and courts  for taking action against the comment maker for making obscene, sexually explicit or  misogynist or (as it may happen  in several cases) racist and hate comments, the website, the police and courts and above all, the families may find hard to prevent themselves from ‘victim blaming’ for uploading ‘those private moments’ for ‘public viewing. In remote possibility, the content may even be considered as non-consensual porn (but not revenge porn) in case the police and the courts decide to book the perpetrators who may have made obscene, sexually explicit or  misogynist or racist and hate comments or who may have shared the video as porn content  to others either for unethical gain or just for the sake of sharing ‘another porn content’. The legal provisions for voyeurism may also be applied in this regard along with provisions for making word etc for harming the modesty of women, inappropriate representation of woman concerned etc. But the new mother may not be saved from acute trauma and depression which may arise from this.
Pregnancy vlogs may be considered as unique examples of rights to expression which should not be violated at any cost. But again, we as responsible society must work together to prevent such wonderful moments to be destroyed by perverts and perpetrators.
Please Note: Do not violate copyright of this blog. If you would like to use informations provided in this blog for your own assignment/writeup/project/blog/article, please cite it as “Halder D. (2018),Making pregnancy vlog? Beware! You may be feeding the porn consumers” 27th March, 2018, published in http://debaraticyberspace.blogspot.com/