On behalf of Centre for Cyber Victim Counselling (www.cybervictims.org), we urge all our readers to stay safe and not to share any fake news. Also, please do not use online platforms to generate any harassing content, revenge porn materials, non consensual porn materials bullying, trolling contents etc to harass women and girls. Stay safe. Let others feel safe...
years YouTube has won millions of hearts in India as a social media platform
especially among women. This is because unlike other social media websites, YouTube
has provided a platform to earn money based upon views and subscribers.
Contents uploaded by users may be varied: it can be home decor, power point
presentations of simplified versions of undergraduate subjects, subject lectures
by professional teachers or amateur subject experts, cooking recipes, Do It
Yourself (DIYs), home organisations, daily routines of home makers, technological
solutions, how to do stuffs etc . Several women have used YouTube to earn money
generated through the revenue that YouTube promises once the user can reach some
criteria like getting 1000 subscribers or 4000 watch hours etc. 
YouTube however would not lead the user to create contents that may earn more
watch hours or subscribers. Users may go for market survey to understand which
sorts of videos may attract more views, ,more subscribers etc. mostly new users
including men and women may try to create videos on anything that they feel
proper to share to the world. YouGTube , like Facebook and Instagram has
features for allowing users to create videos for private sharing. This enables
the users to share the video which may be watched only by those whom the
creator chooses. The users may however go for wide circulation of their contents
by not only making the videos public, but also by going live whereby the users may directly communicate
with their subscribers or may share information while live. Even though going Live may be a feature specifically
for improving the relationship between the user and his/her subscribers, live
videos can be watched by the world wide audience even if they are not
subscribers to that particular user. Here, YouTube may not play a vital role to
restrict uploading and sharing the contents unless the subscribers or viewers may flag the content as inappropriate. In short, YouTube may actually provide a wide
platform to share anything including bullying videos, mashed up videos, child and
woman abuse videos, birthing videos, adult sexual interaction videos and so on.
While the adult sexual videos and birthing videos may not be universally accessible
unless the user logs in to his/her YouTube accounts, other sorts of videos are accessible
to all irrespective of age. YouTube however uses the due diligence clause to
escape from any third party liability by providing notification which restricts
children from viewing adult sexual contents or violent contents which may
traumatise children. Hardly this has any
practical implication because children may access these videos by using email
ids which may be created on the basis of fake age , or may even log in through
their parents’ or friends’ email /YouTube ids.
attention here is however attracted to the contents shared by YouTubers: I have
been an avid watcher of YouTube since many years now. I have been following the
changing trends of users in uploading the contents. Earlier it was more on
creating mashed up videos which may have the potentials of violating the copyrights.
Such videos have also been silently encouraged by actors, singers and producers
because these actually publicise their work even though it may violate the
But slowly, the content creators, especially women started becoming reviewers
of products on YouTube as well. This included using of cosmetics, kitchen wares
organisers etc that may be shown in the daily routine videos, home organisation
videos or make up tutorials.
not only get views and subscribers as may be needed for fulfilling the YouTube
monetising criteria, they may also be connected with the brands manufacturing
the products or dealers of the products who may wish to showcase their products
through these non-professional videos. Several urban and rural women home
makers have actually benefitted from this: consider Youtubers like Radhika Real
who may be rural homemakers, but may have made a moderate to comfortable living
because of their YouTube videos advertising about different brands including retailer
brands. Nonetheless, these YouTubers may
also be victims of bullying and trolling for the quality of their videos, their
pronunciation, lifestyle and even house decorations.
While these women may have made a landmark professional/personal achievement because of YouTube, they may unknowingly violate privacy of their own children or even spouses or other family members as they may be showing and informing the worldwide audience about their family members who may not may consent for such wide distribution of images of themselves. These YouTube videos may also be the subject matter of bullying and ridiculing the children of such YouTubers since these may stay on worldwide web for long time. YouTube videos may also create severe domestic violence for several reasons which include live fights between spouses which may be captured by third party YouTubers for fun and uploaded and circulated for getting more views; or airing of grievances by women YouTubers against the other spouses, without knowing the far-reaching consequences etc. These videos may attract huge views and opinions, comments in the nature of cyber bullying and also trolling targeting the YouTuber concerned or supporters of the same. Consider the case of two specific youtubers from Delhi, who are spouses in real life : the wife is a senior YouTuber whereas the husband is a recent Youtuber: They had severe altercations and started living apart. But this was not enough: both used YouTube to throw insults and humiliating words to each other and their teen daughter was allegedly dragged in between. The recent reports suggested that the teenager girl who was staying with her father for couple of months after the separation, was beaten by the latter while on live and her t-shirt was torn in a manner which would show her inner wares. The girl was beaten because she wanted to visit her mother. This video became viral as several supporters of the wife started showing the clippings through their own channels. Some had also informed ChildLine and the police who had rescued the teenager and sent her to her maternal grandmother. There are several other YouTubers who started discussing about incident using the profile name of the husband wife duo. While the news report published in the local news media suggested that the teenager was often beaten by both the parents when they were drunk and she was forced to come on live which she refused many times, the news clipping did not mention about the name of the girl and that of her parents as S.74 of the Juvenile Justice Care and protection Act, 2015 prohibits publication of the identity of the child in need of care and protection or child in conflict with law. The provision reads as below:
S.74. Prohibition of publication of name, etc., of juvenile in conflict with law or child in need of care and protection involved in any proceeding under the Act.-1. No report in any newspaper, magazine, news-sheet or visual media of any inquiry regarding a juvenile in conflict with law or a child in need of care and protection under this Act shall disclose the name, address or school or any other particulars calculated to lead to the identification of the juvenile or child nor shall any picture of any such juvenile or child be published: Provided that for reasons to be recorded in writing, the authority holding the inquiry may permit such disclosure, if in its opinion such disclosure is in the interest of the juvenile or the child. 2. Any person who contravenes the provisions of sub-section (1), shall be liable to a penalty which may extend to twenty-five thousand rupees.
Now, let us understand the scope of this provision in the light of this particular case: the first subsection prohibits any report including news report, inquiry etc from disclosing the name, information etc of the concerned child. The second proviso extends the scope to ‘anyone’ who may contravene the prohibitory scope of S.74. Seen from the perspective of electronic media and the concept of citizen journalism, which gives every one right to share information, the term ‘anyone’ may literally include anyone including the good Samaritans who may have wanted to alert the concerned authorities, share their opinion against such acts of women and child abuse. Further, note the words “any other particulars calculated to lead to the identification of the juvenile or child nor shall any picture of any such juvenile or child be published” mentioned in the first sub clause. This may include the name of the concerned child and names of the parents. But apparently, this provision became a just a paper tiger in this case because those who had watched or subscribed to the videos of the couple had already known about the identity of the teenager because of the daily Lives put up by the parents and discussion about the girl in the videos posted by them. If one visits the comment section of the recent videos of both the parents in the recent past, it would be seen that commenters have taken the name of the girl, asked about her whereabouts and in some cases, some had also suggested about her changed behaviour after she had stayed with her respective parents separately. Nothing is confidential for those thousands of worldwide audiences now who had watched the parents daily and who had also witnessed the Live video where the girl was beaten up by the father. In spite of repeated request by the mother of the girl, several YouTubers still did not take down videos mentioning about the name of the father (which broadly falls within the meaning of “any other particulars calculated to lead to the identification of the juvenile or child”) when this writeup was published. While the Juvenile Justice Care and Protection and Act provides a base rule, the concerned YouTubers may not be held solely responsible because the parents already violated the privacy of the teenager and encouraged thousands to watch the couple fight which had every potential to attract penal provisions for using words etc for harming the modesty of the wife under S.509 Indian Penal Code as well as defamation of both the wife and the husband under Sections 499 and 500 of the Indian Penal Code. YouTube on the other hand has not taken down the videos of either of the spouses or that of the other YouTubers which may showcase the names of the parents and the child because it is guided by First Amendment of the US which may hardly be affected unless YouTube has been approached to take the videos down by concerned stakeholders.
It is now
a typical love triangle of three parties : YouTube, which is loved by all for
providing such an open platform for airing opinions and consumption of real
life family dramas, the YouTubers who may expect to get support, views,
popularity and money because of participating in the trolling and independent
discussions on such issues which may rip open privacy of general individuals including
children and criminal justice machinery, most of whom may never know how to
manage legalities of YouTube videos because they are completely ignorant of
this new type of electronic media.
But this is
not a unique incident that attracts the attention of legal researchers,
especially privacy law and speech law researchers. YouTubers, especially women YouTubers
continue to violate privacy knowingly or unknowingly and provide more opportunity
to trolls, bullies and offline perpetrators to victimise them because they may
not be aware about the netiquettes of YouTube. Time has come that YouTube users
become cautious of the contents uploaded by them and legalities attached with
such uploading and sharing. In this festive season YouTube content uploading
and sharing may have seen a steep rise. But it is upon YouTubers to control
what must be shared and may not.
is more powerful than televisions, more demanded than movies and more
devastating than what is generally apprehended.
example see Halder D., & Jaishankar K. (2016) Celebrities and Cyber Crimes:
An Analysis of the Victimization of Female Film Stars on the Internet. Temida –
The journal on victimization, human rights and gender. 19(3-4), 355-372
August, 2015 started with some not so surprising news with the government of India banning around 800 websites who were allegedly having porn contents, and then again relaxing the ban. The government clarified that now the ban would be strictly for those websites who distribute child porn materials. Finally the Supreme Court of India came down with its unique observation that neither the government, nor the courts can dictate what to do for adults who watch porn contents within the four walls of their own houses. This is indeed a unique observation from the Supreme court especially from the perspective of privacy rights of adults. Debates ran in several media including the electronic media regarding banning the porn sites, which directly hit a crucial privacy right: right to watch contents within the four corners of one’s own home. I was asked by some regarding views. Yes. I support banning porn sites. But only when, the websites have failed to stick to their due diligence policies. Regarding whether individuals should be allowed to view porn contents in private: I would still say, No they should not be if the contents are violate laws. I say this, because if the courts make it punishable to watch every porn content at home, then millions including you and me would be indicted irrespective of why we got to watch it. A very simple example: how many of you had received gang rape videos asking for identifying the accused? If you have watched it even for a few seconds and circulated the same, then tell me, why and how the content stands apart from contents which may be categorised as porn contents which violate basic human rights? If such video/s came to you via WhatsApp or Facebook , would you consider asking the government to ban it ? In one of the conferences I expressed my concern in this regard and urged every one present in the conference to not to circulate to any friend/s, groups etc except to the police any such videos even to identify the accused. Nonetheless, I was heavily criticised.
India had probably world’s first civilisation where watching erotica or creating erotica by way of sculptures and documenting about erotica were considered absolutely legal .but neither Kamasutra, the ancient book on erotica, nor any erotic sculpture advocated for abusing any living being including men, women and children and even animals for driving sexual pleasure. With the advent of time and technology, human psychology in regard to consumption of erotica faced a drastic change. With colonial rules, came the period where slaves were used in inhuman ways for deriving sexual pleasure. I have documented some of such incidences in my article titled “Online Victimization of Andaman Jarawa Tribal Women: An Analysis of the ‘Human Safari’ YouTube Videos (2012) and its Effects”( Halder D., & Jaishankar, K. (2014), British Journal of Criminology, 54(4), 673-688. (Impact factor 1.556). DOI: 10.1093/bjc/azu026.) With this, the historians, sociologists, legal researchers and criminologists could frame up how human being were abused for sexual pleasure, which were ethical and legal for some and unethical and illegal for many. Came the era of cinemas and televisions and the production/distribution of the erotica contents became even easier. There were cinemas with “A” signs which were produced only to cater the needs of adults. But in no time these movies found their ways to personal television sets where not only adults, but children also could see such erotica of course secretly. Point to be noted here is, after several attempts, none could ban production and distribution of such films. On the other hand, several stakeholders started realising that awareness creation among parents and children may yield better results to make them understand why such contents should not be consumed for home viewing purpose, especially when there are growing children around. But could this actually stop children from becoming over matured in regard to understanding sex related issues? Perhaps no. during my teenage days I got to see many of peers borrowing books which had erotica contents as parts of the text. We were not allowed to carry such books or pictures to the schools. But I know many of my friends secretly enjoyed those materials just how their elders may do . slowly I understood that this is because our inquisitiveness regarding sex was suppressed right at the time when we should have been told about this by our teachers or elders .
Then came the internet era. One of the worst forms of violence against women took place in the cyber space when women were abused to create erotica contents for the porn markets. Children were neither spared. But because children need more care and protection, their cause was highlighted more. Some of the websites did cater child porn materials with children as actors. The stakeholders who wanted to bring a blanket ban on porn sites not only wanted to emphasise upon the fact that child actors may be abused for creation of such contents, but also that such porn contents may encourage others including adults and children to take up similar measures to abuse other children. Laws were created in both Information technology Act (S.67B)and as well as Protection of children from sexual offences Act (POCSO)(s.13) whereby such creation and distribution and also consumption were prohibited. These laws actually extended their scopes to the websites who would be hosting such contents as well. However, the websites are already armed with their own due diligence policies which stem out from US laws. Hence in India also websites were given an advantageous position whereby their own mechanism can detect the illegal contents, remove it from public viewing and block the uploader from uploading any such content again. It was only when that they fail to take notice of the reports made by the victims themselves, observers who feel that such contents are objectionable and the criminal justice administration, that websites can be indicted and the veil of exemption from being directly liable is lifted (S.79, Information Technology Act). In this regard several rules are also created as intermediary guideline rules. But adults were also given consideration while creating laws against porn or obscenity. S.67 of the information Technology Act 2000( amended in 2008) prohibits creating/publishing/distributing obscene materials in the electronic form and S.67A prohibits publishing/distributing sexually explicit materials in the electronic media. It must be noted that when we speak about adults, no law recognises the term “pornography” as an offence or part of any offence. There is no legal definition as such of the term. What does it mean then? Is creating/ distributing/ producing pornography legal? Are the websites who are created solely for the purpose of catering pornography legal? Is watching pornography legal ? No! it may not be legal when pornography is understood in the meaning of sexually explicit object. It is neither legal when the content so created involves other privacy issues including voyeurism, revenge porn, sextortion etc. Some of the Indian laws do recognise the above issues, some remain un recognised. The question is, are consumers/viewers and the websites liable for consuming/ catering such contents as adult porn materials? it is interesting to note that if the content is erotica, does not fall within the category of Ss. 292 IPC(sale etc of obscene books, pamphlets etc), 354C IPC( voyeurism), 66E( violation of privacy), 67 and 67A, 67B of the Information Technology Act,2000(amended in 2008). As the Supreme court has observed, the viewers are not responsible when they view these contents in private. But yes, viewers may be liable only when it amounts sexual harassment within the meaning of various laws in India including sexual harassment of women at workplace (prevention, prohibition and redressal) Act, 2013 etc. it may also amount to an offence if the viewer forces the partner or spouse to watch the same against his/her wish. Of course, in the later situation, the burden of proof lies much upon the complainant if he/she wants to establish the fact that such activities were done in a course of mental torture and domestic violence to the spouse. It must be noted that the websites are neither responsible if they have observed due diligence.
But then how should we manage the huge growth of porn industry which is largely dependent upon the contributors of home-made porn and consumers? I feel here comes the question of society’s and not the court’s or the government’s lone responsibility . Thousands of porn contents are fed in the websites every minute. These sites include exclusive adult sites, social media like Facebook, You Tube etc and also mobile messaging services like WhatsApp. When we speak about amateur porn contents, we may note that majority of such contents are actually voyeur porn, revenge porn and sexted contents which got leaked due to various reasons. When an adult prefers to watch porn content, he would definitely not know whether the same is a legal content or an illegal content. Just because the content is catered through adult sites, the content may not become offensive. Similarly, just because the content is catered through social media like Facebook or YouTube, it may not become a legal content. Consider the gang rape videos. It does not make legal to watch or circulate such videos just because they are circulated to identify the accused. Even if the victim is not shown, the video harms the privacy of the victim in the same fashion as it may do if it would have shown the victim. In that case, can the government block Facebook or YouTube or WhatsApp because such videos were circulated through them? They can not. There is a procedure to make the websites take down these contents. Further, what would be the effect of banning if only Indian viewers in India would be barred from viewing some contents but contributors staying abroad upload revenge porn, voyeur videos from foreign IP addresses ? Would that not be more victimising for victims whose privacy has been violated? Such contributors would not be able to show such contents to Indian viewers, but the contents can be visible anywhere else in the world. In such cases, how would the victim be able to prove the case if he/she is provided only with the link and that does not work within Indian jurisdiction? we need to understand that in all over the world, police still needs sensitisation to deal with cyber crimes especially against women and in such cases, the victims are bound to face secondary harassment in the hands of police as well. By saying this I argue that websites as organisations must share the social responsibility to stop victimisation of women, men and children. Websites thrive in the market because of its contributors and consumers. It is only when that the websites take a strong note on contribution of contents which are violative of laws as well as privacy of individuals that the illegal contribution may be brought down. Coming to the consumption, it would be wrong to say that all consumers of porn contents are perverts. Porn contents may be used as sexual stimuli and this factor has been noted by medical researchers especially in sexology, reproduction science etc. But such stimuli should be used for healthy sexual relationships and purposes. Not for violating rights. I completely agree with the views that porn contents do affect youth who get indulged in rape or sexual molestation just to experience direct pleasure from similar situations in real life. Who are responsible for letting the youth consume such contents for unhealthy reasons? Definitely the elders, the teachers who never explained about sex education and basic guidelines to respect the privacy of women, men and children in schools and homes , and the peers who seek to share the forbidden pleasure.
We need to understand that blanket ban on porn sites would never be effective to stop victimisation of women, men and children either in real life or in cyber space. Instead of blanket ban or blocking the traffic for certain websites to all the broadband network consumers, the government should consider taking up policies to detect the rackets who are spreading such contents to the websites, the faulty websites who are failing in practicing due diligence and of course to train the criminal justice organisation to be able to handle to reports of the victimisation within shortest time. We need to understand that porn contents are spread not only through adult websites, but also through every day accessible mechanisms such WhatsApp or even a simple MMS. That is because the contents may be stored in the personal devices and law can not enable any official to screen every device to detect whether porn contents are stored and what types of contents are stored. This would again bring debates about government surveillance and privacy. Truly, you can not shoot messenger, but can declare war against the devils that use the messenger for destructing peace.
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), “The Great Debate on Porn Ban: my views”, 12th August, 2015 , published in http://debaraticyberspace.blogspot.com/
CYBER CRIME AGAINST WOMEN BY DEBARATI HALDER A woman can be made (in)‘famous’ if she is portrayed ‘topless’ or ‘shameless’. The ongoing tussle over the issue of “topless Kate” is a glaring example as how women are repeatedly victimised through the internet, be it the Duchess of Cambridge,or any other woman who becomes the victim of voyeurism. If the victim is a woman who was not known to the world previously, expect her to be ‘re known ’ (if not well known) by some people whom she never expected to know her in her life time. As on date, I got to see huge media attention to the power of the internet for spreading religious clashes in almost all over the world; along with that ‘Kate Middleton’ became even more hugely searched topic in the search engines not because of her royal position, but because of her perfectly toned naked upper body which is now prominent due to the French magazine which breached into her privacy. Topless Kate was available with hundreds of Twitter users also; when I was jotting down my thoughts for this blog on 17th September, she was still being displayed in spite of the warnings from the British royals, civil charges and amidst of plans for slapping criminal charges. But this particular woman belongs to those layers of people who know how to handle privacy breaching cases and can afford to slap criminal charges against a magazine and subsequently she may also successfully stop the world wide net including the social media giant Twitter from distributing her private pictures. The ‘Rian Gigg super injunction case’, also from the UK, would show the way to tame public social media with private laws. Quite similar to her is the case of BettinaWulff, the wife of former German president, who has been portrayed as a prostitute; Google as a search engine has made her more (in)famous. She has also applied private laws to prevent public humiliation through internet.
Note that both Kate and Bettina belong to European Union countries whose private laws are daring to control the First Amendment Guarantees for Free Speech and Expression of the US, which is the core basis for social media including Google, Facebook and Twitter. These two women not only have monetary power to sue these web giants, they can also withstand the bypassing storm of media highlights, criticisms, sympathies, empathies and even appreciation; credit goes to their social and political backgrounds which made them realise what are their rights and what are the duties of others. But this is not the case of thousands of women who may have similar painful victimisation stories like Kate and Bettina. I remember a non-formal conversation with one of the Swiss presenters of Sweden Criminology Symposium this June. I was impressed by his presentation; he further impressed me by giving wonderful information: women in Sweden have cut off the feeling of shame from sexual victimisations like rape. This has actually motivated them to come up and report the matter to the police. Even though he was speaking on child victimisation in the internet, he emphasised the fact that this very feeling of women has actually gone a long way to combat so called online eve-teasers. But in practise, I get to see a very different picture almost every day; women from all over the world, including these European countries face terrible hurdles to seek legal help or police attention when they fall victims of crimes such as Kate or Bettina. Either the police ridicule them, or they can not afford a legal battle due shortage of funds. Resultant, victimisation of women in the net escalates.
Indian experience is no different. Women have not yet gathered that courage like their European or the US counterparts to cut off the feeling of shame; the situation is even worse with the police ineffectiveness. I dont blame the criminal justice system, for they are not given proper chance to increase their understanding in such cases largely due to the attitude of the victims. Well, exceptions are there. A young woman reportedly came up with not so pleasing comments in the Facebook page regarding the police ineffectiveness for an F.I.R that she lodged for theft of her vehicle (see http://www.thehindu.com/todays-paper/article3913094.ece). She did not fall prey to typical category of cyber victimisation of women; but she shamelessly displayed her anger and frustration.But she actually did fall a victim as her right to speech and expression was gagged. She represents women who face similar humiliation from criminal justice machinery and finally they give up their claims for fair justice and loose hope from the machinery. It is only when women victims especially of cyber crimes, are given a patient hearing and immediate relief by the law and justice machinery that they can win over the feeling of shame as their western counter parts. This would in turn go a long way in preventing unethical hacking activities too.
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. (2012), “Topless and shameless women always top the internet search lists”, 19th September,2012, published in http://debaraticyberspace.blogspot.com