Tag: Pornography

Gender and Internet : Web magazine for Cyber law for women News update for October 28- November 8th, 2020

copyright @Debaratihalder

Thailand uses its Computer Crimes Act to ban 190 websites including Porn Hub as pornography is declared illegal in the country.

Police unearths vicious net of cyber fraud who was operating through fictitious call center to play job fraud duping women and men in India

Deepfake detection company detects bots on Telegram which undresses women and creates nude images

Goa Police in India arrests actress Poonam Pandey for shooting nude video which she had posted on social media

WhatsApp reporting of women and child abuse videos: The common understanding versus the reality


Image credit : Google

Couple of days ago my friend shared an alarming news with me on Facebook about WhatsApp. It says that several cyber security think tanks including Cyber Peace Foundation are now finding out how WhatsApp groups are circulating child sexual abuse videos and how these contents are growing viral.[1] This is not an uncommon incident now. In 2015 from Centre for Cyber Victim Counselling, we had done an empirical research titled “Harassment via WhatsApp in Urban and Rural India: A Baseline Survey Report (2015).[2]This research was conducted in three cities namely Tirunelveli, Kolkata and Delhi with responders from the age group of 19-40. Even though this research did not include survey on WhatsApp groups , but it did emphasize on personal harassment or receiving of the sexually explicit images, harassing videos of others etc. Some of the findings of this report are as follows:
Ø32.8% stated that they are aware of the safety tools in WhatsApp and 42.7% said they feel it is safer than other internet communication services. 41.2% stated that they were not aware of the safety tools and 13.7% stated that they don’t feel that WhatsApp is safer than other internet communication services. 1.5% did not want to tell about their knowledge of awareness regarding safety tools in WhatsApp and 11.5% did not want to tell about their feelings whether WhatsApp is safer than other internet communication services. 24.4% stated that they have heard about the safety tools in WhatsApp but have no direct knowledge about it. 32.1% stated that they have heard about other internet communication services, but they do not have direct knowledge, whether WhatsApp is safer because they do not use other services.
ØIn answer to the question whether they had received any sexually explicit or obscene images including videos/images of rape, sexual abuse of women or children or men or LGBT people etc, among the 131 respondents, 11.5% stated that they had received sexually explicit or obscene images, 51.9% stated they did not receive such images and 2.3% did not want to answer. 34.4% stated that they are not aware of being targeted with such images because they do not use WhatsApp or have stopped using the services.[3]
This suggests that WhatsApp had been a “chosen platform” by predators since long.
 But why WhatsApp has become more dearer to predators than other social media websites like Facebook or Instagram especially for those including pedophiliacs or persons who  create and circulate abusive videos including sexual abuse videos of women  ?  Let’s have a reality check about WhatsApp here:
ØWhat is WhatsApp and how it works: As we had mentioned in the research report, WhatsApp messenger was started approximately in 2009 in the US by Jan Koumand Brian Action as a “better SMS alternative” (WhatsApp, 2014) and it is available for iPhone, Blackberry, Android, Windows phone, Nokia etc. This app uses the user’s phone number as the basic verification mode and it does not support calls via VoIP (Schrittwieser,Fr¨uhwirt, Kieseberg, Leithner, Mulazzani, Huber, & Weippl, 2014). Some of the basic features of WhatsApp include status update, profile picture update, uploading of address book (Schrittwieser, et. al., 2014), options to create/join groups (Terpstra, 2013), updates about location, uploading and circulating photos and videos and voice recordings. Typically WhatsApp verification may include a three stage procedure which involves (i) logging on to the download page of WhatsApp @ https://www.whatsapp.com/download/ and clicking on the chosen device icon and start downloading; (ii) the server then sends a 4-digit PIN number by SMS to the prospective user’s phone by SMS for verification and authentication (Schrittwieser, et. al., 2014), (iii) the user copies the code to the WhatsApp’s application graphical user interface (GUI) and after cross checking by the WhatsApp server the app gets activated on the phone of the user (Schrittwieser, et. al., 2014). Once connected with WhatsApp, the user can get the information about other WhatsApp users by simply checking his/her phone address book or call log history or Gmail address book. This is because WhatsApp may access the user’s contact list or address book to keep track of other mobile phone numbers who use the WhatsApp services and may store this information on the server (WhatsApp, 2014, see sub- para B in Para 3) to get people connected instantly, profile pictures of other users and one WhatsApp user may get instantly connected to others through the server.[4]
ØHow do users create network on WhatsApp and how the groups may be busted?
After downloading the app and activating the same, the user may get connected to his friends or like minded people by doing a simple search in his phone address book. Other numbers with WhatsApp applications may show up. Users may choose to circulate their messages in several ways through WhatsApp :
üBy using broadcasting feature whereby a single text/audio visual  message may be conveyed to a batch of people : The Boradcasting list may be created as below:
Image source : WhatsApp
üBy forwarding the message to maximum five recipients at one time. Now, this “forwarding” may reach a wider recipient list if it is done in a group.  WhatsApp group can be created  by any individual by going to the chat tab and creating a new group. 
Image source: WhatsApp
Interestingly, WhatsApp groups can be private or be public as well. Most of the groups who circulate images /contents of sexual abuse including  for self-gratification or group gratification, may keep their group private so that the group may not be disturbed by any 3rdparty monitoring authority including the police. These group members generally may have a mutual understanding and trust whereby the contents shared by them would not be reported outside.  The members may necessarily download /save the sexual abuse/harassment videos/contents in their own devices  for individual gratification or for unethical gaining by further circulation as well. The end to end encryption by WhatsApp may make it more favorable for such group members to widely discuss and circulate such contents.
Public groups on the other hand are more open groups where people may join for discussions and it may not necessarily private for those whom the admin/s have invited or made them join. Unlike the private groups, public groups may be monitored if any  third party monitoring authority joins the discussion in disguise or any other group member decides to bring in the police or other monitoring stakeholders. In both these cases, admin’s responsibilities have been scrutinized by courts in India. The recent report suggests that the courts have held  responsible for allowing to spread seditious, inciting messages.[5]  WhatsApp group members and admins have also been booked for creating /circulating child sexual abuse materials for sexual gratification.[6]
ØWhat if the group admin is an underage user?
It is important to know the age barrier about WhatsApp users. There are infact not two, but three options given by WhatsApp. Lets check it:
1.     The minimum age criterion for European region including European Union countries is 16.
2.     For other countries the, the minimum age criteria is 13 unless the domestic laws of the said countries have fixed a higher age for using of WhatsApp.[7]
3.     Overlooking both, a child can use the WhatsApp services of the parents if the parent allows the child to use the services under his/her monitoring.
This in fact shows that a child may use WhatsApp, may create his/her own profile and may create contents him/herself for private or public sharing on WhatsApp with whoever he/she wants. 
ØWhat happens to the producer/distributor of the offensive contents?
In broader understanding, the child is legally permitted to create content  which he/she thinks can be circulated. Now, this has been a question for several courts : when a child is creating a sexting content and circulating the same with fellow children (including his/her boy/girl friend ),  how the courts (and the laws )would treat him/her ? Is he the perpetrator? Is he the victim? Or is he a ‘child’ with no liabilities?[8] S.67B of the Information technology Act, 2000(amended in 2008), Ss. 13 and 14 of the Protection of children from sexual offences Act, 2012 clearly mention that “whoever’ creates, circulates, produces etc  contents depicting children in sexually contents may be penalized. These cane be considered non-baliable, which would suggest that the punishment can be heavier.  Similarly, Ss. 67 and 67A of the Information Technology Act, 2000(amended in 2008) also penalizes ‘anyone’ who creates, distributes etc  sexually explicit and obscene materials. S. 354C of the Indian Penal Code also touches upon penalizing men who  private images of woman who would not consent for sharing such contents with third parties . S.375 and 376 of the Indian penal Code also touches upon capturing rape videos and storing or circulating the same. These offences can also be non-bailable and can have heavier punishments.
The contents that the children would have created also carries significance: if a child creates a sexting video or sexual abuse video or a non consensual porn image/content or  even a revenge porn content and sends it to his friend/s, the recipient may decide not to receive the content if from the look at the content or the text attached with it, the recipient feels that it should not be opened or should not be further circulated because it contains ‘bad stuff’.  WhatsApp is smart enough to have created limited policy guideline and security feature whereby one can report his/her child who may be using WhatsApp without parental guidance  and the parents feel that the child may be doing /victimized due to illegal /risky contents and connections.  It says
“If your underage child created a WhatsApp account, you can show them how to delete their account. You can learn how to delete an account in our Help Center.If you\’d like to report an account belonging to someone underage, please send us an email. In your email, please provide the following documentation and redact or hide any unrelated personal information:
Proof of ownership of the WhatsApp number (e.g., copy of government-issued identification card and phone bill with the same name)
Proof of parental authority (e.g., copy of birth or adoption certificate for the underage child)
Proof of child\’s date of birth (e.g., copy of birth or adoption certificate for the underage child)
We\’ll promptly disable the WhatsApp account if it\’s reasonably verifiable that the account belongs to your underage child. You won\’t receive confirmation of this action. Our ability to review and take appropriate action on a report significantly improves with the completeness of the information requested above.[9]
Removal /deactivating of the said account is however at the discretion of WhatsApp especially when they would not be reasonably convinced .
But in case the reporting individual is not the parent of the child who may be doing illegal stuff  or who may be a potential victim, WhatsApp suggests to contact the parents of the child.
For adult wrong doers, WhatsApp has a typical formula which is followed by almost all social media companies : they would suggest to block the number so that the user of that particular number would not be able to contact the blocker  unless the earlier is being unblocked . Here is what WhatsApp suggests regarding how to block a number:
Image source: WhatsApp
ØThe producer/distributor of the offensive content has been arrested. What about the offensive image?
The above information would not serve much purpose for blocking /reporting of the content unless the same is considered as an offending  subject through a police report. In such case, the said content may be made disabled from their own server, but they would rather work like email or SMS and would not access individual devices to dig out the offensive content to block and disable it. In such case, even if the persons (owning the WhatsApp numbers and profiles) may be blocked, the contents may keep on circulatingunless these have been ‘ordered ‘ to be disabled from the server.  This is how the objectionable contents float from one device to another and reach out to millions after the original sender may have deleted from his device to save himself or he may have been arrested by the police.
Nothing but a police report or a court order about the said content therefore could be the best answer for blocking the content from being further circulated. But a few things can not be ignored when this is suggested: the police must act accordingly to make WhatsApp delete the content from its server and block the circulation whenever it appears on WhatsApp from which ever device. But this may become a herculean task especially when the police and the courts  may feel  challenged due to lack of infrastructure and proper laws. As long as this does not take place, WhatsApp users have to be responsible enough to not to circulate such contents even if they receive it from known or unknown numbers. Not to be forgotten, the police may arrest individuals who may store child sexual harassment videos /images unknowingly as well. But the unfortunate fact is this may not be the same for adult sexual abuse cases. But if the users use WhatsApp responsibly, the problem may definitely be address.

Please note : Do not violate copyright of this blog. If you would like to use information provided in this blog for your own assignment/writeup/project/blog/article, please cite it as “Halder D. (2019), \” WhatsApp reporting of women and child abuse videos:  The common understanding vs the reality”  29th April, 2019 , published in http://debaraticyberspace.blogspot.com

[1] Cuthbertson Anthony (2019). WHATSAPP IS HOTBED FOR CHILD SEX ABUSE VIDEOS IN INDIA, STUDY FINDS. Published in https://www.independent.co.uk/life-style/gadgets-and-tech/news/whatsapp-child-sex-abuse-videos-groups-india-a8885811.html?fbclid=IwAR251ajPe20Y7zcXtD2o1s0w–86-Pr5UrKHVgv7IF_7swAH_dvEGQTzcZQon 26th April, 2019. Retrieved on 26th April, 2019
[2] Halder, D., & Jaishankar, K. (2015). Harassment via WhatsApp in Urban
and Rural India: A Baseline Survey Report (2015). Tirunelveli, India:
Centre for Cyber Victim Counselling. Available @ https://www.cybervictims.org/CCVCresearchreport2015.pdfRetrieved on 27.04.2019
[3] Ibid
[4] See pp 2 in ibid
[5] See WhatsApp ‘admin’ spends five months in an Indian jail. Published in https://www.bbc.com/news/technology-44925166Accessed on 22.04.2019
[6] See Sandhya Nair (2018) WhatsApp group sharing child porn busted, 5 held
[8] Halder, D., & Jaishankar. (2013). Revenge Porn by Teens in the United
States and India: A Socio-legal Analysis. International Annals of
Criminology, 51(1-2), 85-111. ISSN: 00034452 (UGC Listed Journal)

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


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/

Porn panic: how festive-dressing styles become responsible


Come autumn and it is the festive season every where in India.  Daily soaps are regularly interrupted by new advertisements about every usable stuff and the fashion magazines  get flooded by what a teenager should wear, how a woman should carry her saree or in what attire a man should look most ‘desirable’ to women. Nonetheless, each of the States in India have their own dressing style, but when it comes to metro style and casuals, especially for festivals, girls and boys, men and women never disappoint style makers of Bollywood and the Mumbai serials. This Durga puja was a special one for me as I got to see Kolkata in Durga Puja after a long time. The city has not changed its traditions, but digital habits of people have. Visitors to puja pandals , especially young adults visit the pandals not for seeing the different themes or idols, but for taking selfies with “Durga and her children”.  Too many flashes, ‘click’ sounds of camera phones  do make a disturbance for those who want to enjoy the Puja in its real meaning. With the changing of the time, these were bound to happen. But what worries me is the gross violation of privacy while clicking selfies, doulfies (couple-selfie) or even clicking of the general Puja  pandals.  In earlier days, capturing images in the Puja pandals was treated as ‘eve teasing’ if someone intentionally clicked images of girls and women by continuously  disturbing them, making them to look at the photographer  without getting their permission and against their will (to be photographed). Even though this had proved to be dangerous for many girls and women, their harassment would not have been as ‘large scale’ as it may be now. It is because not only the girls and women can be clicked anywhere, in any position, their images can travel to many persons, many unwanted sites and to many unwanted persons within minutes. The hard truth is, even the selfie taker girls and women may also be victimised if their selfies land in unwanted places on internet.
 In this connection, I must mention about the conference on Porn, Panic, Ban held at Delhi on 28th and 29th October, organised jointly by Point of View and Internet Democracy project. I was invited as a resource person and speaker to speak on indecent representation of women on internet. My lecture was largely based on my article titled “Examining the scope of IndecentRepresentation of Women (prevention) Act in the light of cyber victimization inIndia”. In this conference, I and other speakers raised our concern regarding voyeurism. Precisely, in any public festival, women and girls may be the chosen targets for such voyeurs who have mania for clicking women and girls from odd angels. These images are either uploaded in the social networking sites for personal sexual gratification, creation of ‘sex-groups’, or even revenge porn.  We do know how a couple  of months back, the images of children clicked and uploaded on Facebook had created a vicious network of people who turned these young children into ‘sex-items’ for them on Facebook . The photographs of these children were also clicked in public places. Saying this I want to emphasise on the fact that everyone, especially women and girls in the present age must be cautious about their safety not only in the physical world, but also on internet.  In my previous article titled “Online Victimization of Andaman Jarawa Tribal Women: AnAnalysis of the ‘Human Safari’ YouTube Videos (2012) and its Effects.” Which was published in British Journal of Criminology in 2014, I had shown how absence of proper laws prohibiting photography in public places enhance the possibilities of online victimisation of women more. Same opinion goes for young girls and boys as well.
The festival dressing styles for women and girls not only encourage the fashion makers to decide for the next style statements, but also encourage the perpetrators to get armed with cell phone cameras to ‘capture’ their prey for their own corrupted minds.  It may be impossible to think about curtailing private rights to capture images at Puja pandals or any festival gatherings, but this becomes a necessary need for saving women from being indecently represented on internet. Along with that, I agree with some concerned police officers who are of the view that neither men nor women or children should opt for those attire, which not only make themselves feel uncomfortable, but also may make them victims of unwanted harassment.   Plainly speaking, public places ( except where it is designated to be a bathing place), should not be considered as platforms to experiment attires or style statements which may attract unwanted harassment. It needs to be understood that while one may dress according to one’s own choice, one can not expect everyone to have same views about him/her in his/her chosen attire. While its true that perpetrators and perverts may target women and girls and even men in any attire, but still then, in my own experience I have seen that perverts do target specific people, who in their view is the ‘sexiest’. True, its their problem and not ours.  
 Let me explain this with an example from my own childhood. At a wedding we got to see a famous movie star who came in attire which was the latest fashion statement at the early 90’s. He wore a see-through shirt. While he ( note that this particular person is a man and not a woman) managed to attract the attention of every young people who loved watching him on screen, there were people who were not exposed to such see through garments in real life. The popular actor did also managed to hear one such person shouting at others ‘look the man is wearing plastic sheet to show off his hairy chest and plump midriff’ . It was truly a hilarious moment for many of us youngsters who were ‘forced’ to look at the actor once again and scrutinise his body structure. But remember, the late 80’s and early 90’s did not have cell phone cameras and smart phones and hence his picture in his latest style did not become viral in the other way with the odd comment ‘pasted’ to his picture.  But this can happen now. Nonetheless, if this happens to anyone now, only the true victims would know what the pain would be like.  Social media would not take down such fake avatar with nasty comments if the victim is an adult, because such posts would obviously carry the question of First Amendment rights versus right against being victimised by indecent representation; clouds may take such images and the comments to numerous unwanted sites and it would become literally impossible for the victim to remove image of hers in her own favourite attire which may have become ‘hot favourite’ for others for sexual gratification. For this women and girls need to be more aware. No, my concern is not for making women and girls feel that they should not opt for uncomfortable dresses in the name of fashion only; my concern is for women team among the organisers. Stand up for protesting any violation of rights of women and girls and this could be done when women members in the Puja organising committees or volunteers from civil society members take active steps for spreading the awareness against voyeuristic activities. 
 With Kali Puja and Diwali approaching, the government, the police and also the puja organisers and civil society at large must decide to take such steps which may create awareness among people to prevent such sorts of victimisation of people. 
  • Children, do not click unwanted photos of others, because this may violate other’s privacy. 
  • Young adults, restrain from using your cellphone cameras as ‘spy-cam’, because if you are capturing somebody secretly, remember, you are not only violating other’s rights, but some one may also do the same to you and you may have to face  legal actions and harassments as well. 
  • Especially to girls and women: beware while taking selfies and storing it in the clouds or sharing it with others. You may never know how your favourite selfie can become an item for adult sites and an indecent representation of yourself.

Wish you all a very happy and safe Diwali.
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. (2015), Porn panic: how festive- dressin styles become responsible, 06-11-2015, published in http://debaraticyberspace.blogspot.com/