Tag: Revenge Porn

Gender and Internet: Web magazine for Cyber law for women News update for September 16-24, 2019

Man in Derbyshire uploads distributes breast pictures of his neighbor who borrowed the computer to upload the pictures for medical purposes. while returning the computer, she forgot to delete them.Accused shared the pictures because he was allegedly irritated by the victim. The court convicted the accused of revenge porn. Held that the pictures were not captured by the accused for sexual purposes, but were distributed for taking revenge. The court, which took note of the victim’s distress condition, ordered the accused is ordered two months prison sentence, 80 hours of unpaid work and restraining order prohibiting him to connect with the victim.
https://www.derbytelegraph.co.uk/news/derby-news/derby-man-sent-revenge-porn-3280054

Pornhub owner earns money from the revenue generated through advertisements, rejects the claim that they allow revenge porn contents on their websites. But the reality is different. Victims state even police can not help in preventing uploading of revenge porn in such websites and detecting the perpetrators. Website liability is questioned.
https://www.bbc.com/news/technology-49583420

India raises alert over need for a new legislation to combat cyber crimes against women as several women , including nuns are defamed via social media.
https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/kozhikode/cybercrime-womens-panel-calls-for-stricter-punishment/article29434022.ece

Nigerian man arrested in India for duping women, through impostering profiles of wealthy people
https://www.ndtv.com/delhi-news/nigerian-man-in-delhi-posed-as-wealthy-foreigner-cheated-women-jailed-2103379

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Gender and Internet: Cyber law magazine for women News Update for July 1-20, 2019

Concerns regarding privacy breach by Russian FaceAging App rises
https://www.forbes.com/sites/thomasbrewster/2019/07/17/faceapp-is-the-russian-face-aging-app-a-danger-to-your-privacy/#1f5fd4462755

Devastating impact of Revenge porn on victim women and girls acknowledged again
https://www.grimsbytelegraph.co.uk/news/grimsby-news/devastating-impact-revenge-porn-files-3073566

Photo mining of women leads to balckmailing and extortion of women. Suspects arrested in Pakistan
https://www.samaa.tv/news/2019/07/islamabad-blackmailers-admit-to-involvement-in-child-pornography-fia/

Jeddah Court awards three days jail sentence to Saudi Woman for sending insulting Whatsapp communication to ex-husband
https://stepfeed.com/saudi-woman-gets-three-days-in-jail-over-profane-texts-to-ex-husband-4850

Selling intimate images of own wife is considered violative of law. SriLankan swimming instructor arrested for allegedly cooercing his Filipina wife to perform sexual activities for uploading the images and then selling them for unethical gain.
https://www.pna.gov.ph/articles/1074960

Philipines introduces Safe Spaces Act or Republic Act No 11313 to penalise misogynistic slurs, sexual harassment in public places, workplaces and online spaces.
Minimum sentence is fine and 12 hours community services with Gender sensitivity seminar
https://www.rappler.com/nation/235481-new-law-punishes-wolf-whistling-catcalling-online-sexual-harassment

Court struggles to settle online harassment cases involving emogis
https://edition.cnn.com/2019/07/08/tech/emoji-law/index.html?fbclid=IwAR3KP3pDDfrSbcnRYEyNPnPZN8S9MJZ6CPLLxMbV1OvSoq6bBfo6hXnSu_E

Facebook defends and says does not operate website to have friends, infringe privacy
https://arstechnica.com/tech-policy/2019/07/facebook-denies-allegations-that-you-make-friends-on-facebook/?fbclid=IwAR2gBe-S5rP4prF57zODikgKshn5gbJbew7UnJDibLFP7oxiCx3BJ-_mJJU

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

Continue reading “Women’s Day, 2019 : Views of a #webwonderwoman”

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

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/

Right to Love on social media on Valentine’s Day

CYBER CRIME AGAINST WOMEN BY DEBARATI HALDER

Image curtsy: Google
Come Valentine’s Day and social media and digital messaging services like WhasApp or Snapchat are flooded by beautiful heartwarming messages, pictures and emogies. Nonetheless, Facebook, Instagram , Whatsapp YouTube and also some adult networking sites may see more contributions of nude videos, revenge porn, fake avatarsas well by jilted lovers. The other type of messages that one may get to see in these platforms are those from moral policing groups asking people to refrain from ‘celebrating Valentine’s day’ in Facebook, Twitter  and other social media . Such message can be ‘shared messages’, can be opinions or even can be clear  threats to ‘whoever’ ‘celebrates  ‘Valentine’s day’.
The question is, do we have something called Right to love? Can this right be considered to  be violated if someone posts messages against celebration of Valentine’s day ?  Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) does not specifically speak about right to love, but it flows from Article 16 (Right to marriage and family) and Article 19 (freedom of opinion and expression).  All most all countries with modern constitution including India, UK, Singapore, US, Canada, Australia, countries from European union including Germany, France, Spain  etc  do recognize the right to choose and communicate with   dating partner, live-in partner , same sex partners and heterosexual partners for emotional bondage including marriage  because these countries  recognize right to express opinion, freedom of speech and expression and also right to marriage and family. While right to form family by way of live-in relationships or  homosexual partnerships  have been recognized by  several countries by way of legitimizing  the rights of children born out of such union or  adopted in such marriages, some countries may  not recognize Live-in relationships or same sex marriages in real life
But right to chose emotional partners and right to communicateto the same on cyber space are not barred by any law. For example, even when Indian Supreme court did not apply doctrine of severability to S.377 todecriminalize same sex union and consider the rights of transgender people to be recognized as 3rd gender people, or even when the US did not legalize gay marriages,  Facebook had pages and groups meant for socializing and creation of emotional bonding between  LGBTQ people.  Right to love is rather an abstract idea which may be expressed when a person starts expressing the love to his/her chosen person on a specific platform. Seen from this aspect, right to love on cyber space may be barred only  under specific circumstances, i.e., when the same expression offends the ‘target’ person because he/she may not like to develop any emotional relationship with the person expressing  the feelings either because the relationship falls under the concept of stalker and victim, ex lover or spouse where the victim ex does not want to be connected with the other person anymore, or  a real life acquaintance including workplace acquaintance who had accepted to be friends with the other person  expecting reasonable distance and privacy , or a stranger  who may not like to be approached by way of expressing  eros.  Similarly, positive reciprocation of love on cyber space may not be offensive unless the receiver/reciprocator is knowingly committing any mistake like that of  breaking  trust  of a married partner.
A person may however be deterred from exercising his/her right to love an acclaimed criminal only when such relationship may prove to be hazardous for the security of the nation or for the society at large.  But he/she may not be held guilty for such love affair on cyber space when he /she can prove his/her innocence in knowledge about the particular acclaimed criminal. He/she may even claim compensation under certain circumstances when such fraudulent relationship causes damage to him/her as well. But note that I am speaking about being offended from the perspective of the receiver of the message carrying an expression of love and not the bystanders in case such message are posted on some one’s timelines or in a common group or in a page and it is publicly visible. Moral policing groups against celebration of Valentine’s day may go ahead with their propaganda of   threats of ‘devastating results’ on the understanding that whoever  exercises right to love either by way of expressing love for some one, or by  showing a status ‘in love with X’ or by even reciprocating to such message by  words or emogies or even by thumbs up  should be considered as ‘dangerous’ for the society as a whole.  Some radical groups have even come up with warning that people exercising their’ right to love’ will be straightaway married  off  or they will be warned to stop displaying (exercising their right  to) love. Understandably  such sorts of warning messages may have been made to create fear in the minds of  individuals who may belong to orthodox patriarchal families where love marriages are not allowed  or where threats of honor killings exists . Such radical groups  are targeting those individuals who may be new generation social media users and whose families including parents may not know their digital whereabouts.  
The question is, would such announcements by such radical groups be considered as hate speechor threat speech? There may be varied opinions for this.  If the statement/s show that the commentator/s  may track the whereabouts of the persons  who are expressing their love on Facebook or any other social media  on valentine’s day to commit some harm, the speech may be considered as threat speech especially because they may indicate violation of privacy and also intention to commit harm (even if it is arranging marriage, which may be the ultimate the aim of the love birds). Women especially may feel threatened because this may result in offline and online reputation damage, rape threats (especially if it is an inter religious affair) or even   grave threats to their lives.  Some , including the   social media website may consider  such speech as absolutely normal because such speech may seem to be very broad  to be fitted within  the meaning of hate speech or threat speech because such speeches may be ‘general’  and may not target any specific individual, class or community of people.  But we must not forget  that online mob violence may become extremely dangerous especially when such instigating comments or posts are made. Concerned authorities therefore must not ignore such ‘warnings’.
But I would have been happiest would the moral policing groups turn their attention to evils done on cyber space and send messages to the world including possible perpetrators to refrain from creating revenge porn on the Valentine ’s Day. In my observation I have seen that on such days several jilted lovers, revengeful persons and stalkers may create revenge porn stuff to grossly violate women’s reputation including rightsto privacy.
Let us join hands to prevent spreading of hate and threats through social media. Let us grow love and not hate.
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), “Right to love on social media  on Valentine’s Day ” 10th February, 2018, published in http://debaraticyberspace.blogspot.com

Why cyber bullying should never be taken as a holistic term for cyber harassment

CYBER CRIME AGAINST WOMEN BY DEBARATI HALDER

In a recent academic conference where I was speaking on cyber bullying, I got some ‘strange questions’ as why I am not covering topics like pornography and obscenity.  To me, these questions were ‘strange’ because I was delivering lecture specifically on cyber bullying. But to the individuals who asked the questions (and this group included academicians and practitioners from women’s rights group as well), this seemed to be a genuine concern as why cyber bullying does not mean cyber pornography, cyber obscenity, revenge porn, cyber stalking or the concept of cyber harassment.
Decoding cyber bullying:
Many of us believe that cyber bullying is the holistic term to explain the concept of cyber harassment. In reality it is not. 
 Cyber harassment or online harassment is a holistic term which may include various types of harassments including cyber bullying. The term cyber bullying is defined as “abuse/ harassment by teasing or insulting, victims’ body shape, intellect, family back ground, dress sense, mother tongue, place of origin, attitude, race, caste, class, name calling, using modern telecommunication networks such as mobile phones (SMS/MMS) and Internet (Chat rooms, emails, notice boards and groups)”(Jaishankar, 2009).
www.Stopbullying.gov explains cyber bullying as “………Cyberbullying includes sending, posting, or sharing negative, harmful, false, or mean content about someone else. It can include sharing personal or private information about someone else causing embarrassment or humiliation.”
A clear reading of the definition of Jaishankar and the explanation provided by Stopbullying.gov  would suggest that cyber bullying includes conveying or posting of insulting, degrading, teasing, messages in the victim’s timeline, in groups or forums etc. Bullying messages are also conveyed through one-to one chatting mechanism. Bullying messages may typically be like “ you are a liar”, or “you look ugly”, or “ you are worthless”, or “x is a black spot in the team”, or “x is a big zero when it comes to trendy fashion” etc. Presently, India does not have any cyber bullying prevention law.
However, it would be wrong to say that cyber bullying happens to children. Adults may also be victims of bullying, including workplace bullying.
So when does bullying turn into stalking?
Often people confuse cyber bullying with cyber stalking. We at Centre for Cyber Victim Counselling had provided a functional definition of cyber stalking in our 2010 research report which is as follows:
“In one word, when ‘following’ is added by Mens rea to commit harm and it is successfully digitally carried out, we can say cyber stalking has happened” (Halder &Jaishankar, 2010).
S.354D of the Indian Penal Code (inserted via Criminal Law amendment Act, 2013) defines cyber stalking as follows:
“Any man who follows a woman or contacts or attempts to contact such woman to foster personal interaction repeatedly despite a clear indication of disinterest by such woman or whoever monitors the use by a woman of the internet, email or any other form of electronic communication or watches or spies a person in a manner that results in fear of violence or serious alarm or distress, in the mind of such woman or interferes with the mental peace of such woman, commits the offence of stalking.” 
Seeing from the above perspectives we can see several stages of cyber stalking

The first stage of cyber stalking can be Repeated Pursuing

The second stage can be data mining and/or monitoring.

The third stage can be creating threat /fear in the mind of the victim.
Repeated pursuing can be in the form of sending /posting messages which may not be insulting or degrading or annoying at the beginning. This is because the stalker (especially in case of interpersonal stalking) may not necessarily like to insult or humiliate his ‘target’. The main aim of the stalker may be to persuade the victim to enter into an emotional relationship where the stalker may be a dominant figure. The messages may turn insulting or degrading when the process reaches the third stage, i.e., when the sender wants the victim to feel threatened. Stalking may adopt the process of cyber bullying when the victim refuses to abide by the ‘commands’ or ‘demands’ of the stalker. The later may then start sending insulting, annoying, degrading messages in order to create a fear of constant harassment and defamation of the victim. Bullying therefore changes into the phenomena of cyber stalking when the bully becomes obsessive with his victim and continues to post hurting, degrading, insulting messages as long as the victim does not start developing a sense of fear; when he starts monitoring his victim to see the outcome of bullying or rather, to see how far the victim is affected by bullying.
Revenge porn and bullying
Again, revenge porn and bullying can be completely different forms of online harassment. Revenge porn “……….is an act whereby the perpetrator satisfies his anger and frustration for  broken relationship through publicizing false, 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 computer, or may have conveyed to his electronic device by the victim herself, or may have been stored in device with the consent of the victim herself; and which may essentially have been done to publicly defame the victim.”(Halder &Jaishankar, 2013).
Revenge porn may necessarily include unethical using of images of the victim for taking revenge and creating a fake avatar of the victim which may signify the later as that of bad character. Unfortunately many countries including India do not have any focussed law to prevent and punish revenge porn. However, several legal academicians including cyber civil right activists in the US  have proposed revenge porn legislations and such proposals have been considered as legal provisions to criminalise revenge porn. In case of revenge porn, the perpetrator may or may not include bullying tactics to create extra humiliation to his/her victim. I have observed that in several revenge porn cases, the perpetrator may limit his act to posting to his own time line with a tagline indicating that the victim is of bad character, or may create a fake avatar either in the social websites like Facebook or Twitter etc indicating that the profile owner may solicit sex, or may upload the image to adult networking websites where all images may be ‘consumed’ as erotica. Revenge porn and bullying may be clubbed up only when the perpetrator posts/sends annoying, insulting, degrading messages to the victim or to a group to humiliate the victim with the revenge porn content, i.e., after he has already created revenge porn and wishes to continue harassing the victim with teasing messages. However, I would still not agree to call it cyber bullying; it would be categorised as defamation if seen from the perspective of defamation laws. S.499 of the Indian Penal Code which states as follows:
“Whoever, by words either spoken or intended to be read, or by signs or by visible representations, makes or publishes any imputation concerning any person intending to harm, or knowing or having reason to believe that such imputation will harm, the reputation of such person, is said, except in the cases hereinafter expected, to defame that person. Explanation 1.—It may amount to defamation to impute anything to a deceased person, if the imputation would harm the reputation of that person if living, and is intended to be hurtful to the feelings of his family or other near relatives. Explanation 2.—It may amount to defamation to make an imputation concerning a company or an association or collection of persons as such. Explanation 3.—An imputation in the form of an alternative or expressed ironically, may amount to defamation. Explanation 4.—No imputation is said to harm a person’s reputa­tion, unless that imputation directly or indirectly, in the estimation of others, lowers the moral or intellectual character of that person, or lowers the character of that person in respect of his caste or of his calling, or lowers the credit of that person, or causes it to be believed that the body of that person is in a loathsome state, or in a state generally considered as disgraceful.”
As may be seen from the above, cyber harassment or online harassment therefore is a bigger term which includes forms of harassment including cyber bullying. It is essential to understand the differences because the terms may signify different types of criminal or civil wrongs and as such may attract different types of punishments by courts of law. For instance, if a victim who has encountered impersonation (not amounting to revenge porn, but an ordinary impersonation whereby his/her image had been used to create a profile in the matrimonial site), he/she should not report the incident as cyber bullying to the concerned website. It should be ‘impersonation’, meaning the perpetrator has unethically and unauthorisedly used the personal picture and information of the victim to create harassment. Depending upon the mens rea, nature of the profile and impact of the same on the victim’s reputation, the police may book the offender under various provisions under Information Technology Act and also under Indian Penal Code for impersonation(for example, Ss 66D of the Information technology Act, 2000(amended in 2008), Ss. 416 & 417, 499, 500 IPC, etc) . In case the victim is a woman, the police may also include provisions meant for harming the modesty of women (S.509 IPC). Similarly, in case of stalking, the victim should rather report the crime as stalking and not cyber bullying because the legal provisions in India do not recognise any offence of cyber bullying, but prescribes stringent punishment for stalking. Whereas, in other jurisdictions, where both cyber stalking and cyber bullying are recognised as offences, both may have different types of punishments. Further, the social media websites may also have different reporting mechanism for cyber bullying and cyber stalking.
  However, cyber bullying still remains in a grey area from legal perspectives. More research is needed to develop a good universal understanding which may help to demarcate why cyber bullying be considered as Bad Speech. Further, research is also needed to create deeper demarcation between different forms of online harassment for the purpose of better policy developments.
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), “Why cyber bullying should never be taken as a holistic term for cyber harassment” 4th February, 2018, published in http://debaraticyberspace.blogspot.com

The Facebook way of saving “face” : The profile picture guard by Facebook

CYBER CRIME AGAINST WOMEN BY DEBARATI HALDER

Long back in 2005 when I was newly introduced to a very popular social media “orkut”, I proudly showed off my profile with my own picture  which was clicked during a family wedding. Internet communication technology was new to India and we women were regularly being targeted because of the easy availability of our presence. This was largely due to lack of security in the social media as well as internet. We did not have two step verification for Gmail; Yahoo chat messenger, which was extremely popular during those days, almost made everyone’s personal information that were uploaded for the website, available to anyone who wanted access the user. It was during that period that I learnt about cloning of profiles which were made to harass individuals, especially women. The profiles may not be hacked, may neither be directly accessed by way of sending friends’ request; but the profile pictures may be downloaded and a new profile may be created with the available profile picture and profile information. Way back in 2006-7 I already had several women victims who contacted me for help and guidance. Almost all of them had common problem : harassment by way of creation of fake avatars. I have been part of the feminist movement which vehemently protested making women as ‘sex object’ on internet. Indeed women are made as ‘sex objects’ and they are regularly targeted by  misogynists, perverts and online traffickers who may selectively pick up women and girls by seeing their profiles, profile pictures and shadowing their online activities.
Let me go back to my own experiences where I received the first harassing comment (which was not stalking, neither resulted due to hacking) which was plainly nothing but ‘bullying’. My first profile picture in Orkut received a remark which mocked at my supposedly ‘over made-up   face’ and ‘blood red lipstick’. I knew this was just the beginning and if reciprocated, the bully may be extremely provoked to reply back. But this was not the first and last incident. I have received various negative comments, I have had my own period of being victim of a female stalker who monitored me and did send defamatory mails about me to my husband and again I had noticed several attempts to open Facebook accounts with my name and email ids. The later was detected and prevented by me because I never neglect the security messages sent by websites in my mails.
In my research I have seen that often the police and lawyers refuse to help the women victims and start the blame game. This is because they may not be aware of the mechanism to help and counsel the victims. In my opinion, websites must also be made responsible for third party victimization of women especially when the genuine reports of violation fail to move the websites.   However, the websites concerned, may constantly develop safety policy guidelines for users to make the users take self prevention mechanisms. I have been part of Facebook women safety program for quite some times now.  I continue to demand for more liability on the part of the websites especially for women and this time my concern was safety of profile pictures of women.  I was extremely happy to see the developments in the security and policies of Facebook which was introduced in India on 22ndJune, 2017: ‘The profile picture guard’. Every woman must avail this opportunity to safeguard their profile picture since this is the most chosen target of all the images that may be uploaded by a user. The step by step guide to how to use this ‘guard’ is explained by Facebook team @ https://newsroom.fb.com/news/2017/06/giving-people-more-control-over-their-facebook-profile-picture/
However, I understand that it is not the women only, but children are also extremely vulnerable targets of sexual predators. Men are neither excluded. All users must use this facility and it may definitely help to reduce ‘image stealing’ for various malicious purposes including morphing, hacking and creation of fake avatars. But we need to understand that is not the ultimate answer to prevent revenge porn cases. While image of an individual may be saved because Facebook may detect the particular stolen image easily after receiving the report, there is a still remains a lacuna for other photographs which are in the personal albums. We must also note that the website will not suomotu take action for the cloned or stolen images. The victim must report the profile and the concerned profile picture along with the “shielded picture” as evidence.

Its nonetheless a big step in the history of cyber security for women and I congratulate Facebook for taking this initiative. But again, ……… accidents do happen and we need to be stronger to recover.
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. (2017), “The Facebook way of saving “face” : The profile picture guard by Facebook”  23rd June, 2017, published in http://debaraticyberspace.blogspot.com

How ‘yellow journalism’ and internet is failing the women victims of online harassment and revenge porn

CYBER CRIME AGAINST WOMEN BY DEBARATI HALDER

Almost a month and half back the whole south India woke up to a rather “juicy news” of “Bhavana” molestation case. She is not “Nirbhaya.” Her name was not given by the any legislator or judge or executive to protect her identity. Bhavana is a Malayalam female cine-star whose real name can be found in Wikipedia and numerous film magazines. She was apparently molested in a moving car by some including her former drivers. As the news report suggests, the perpetrators also took ‘objectionable’ photos of her while the incidence was going on. The news surfaced exactly when I was enjoying the sweet success of publishing my latest article “Celebrities and cyber crimes:an analysis of the victimisation of female film stars on internet” published in Temida: Journal on victimization, human rights and gender Volume 19 • Issue 3-4• 2016 .
We the movie fans often understand that actors or actresses may themselves attract negative publicity by voluntarily getting into troubles or playing the victim card. But in some cases this may not be true. Women actors may face numerous problems, harassment and threats in real life as well as virtually. One of such problem is facing voyeurism and revenge porn almost on daily basis. Some actors turn numb to such harassment as they take these as (negative) part of  their work. Some may reach out to police to show genuine concern. In Bhavana’s case, a minute analysis would show that she was not only physically violated, but also she became a victim of ‘revenge porn’, a term that our laws still do not recognise and tries to cover it up by numerous legal provisions which may not provide  the actual answer. I call it ‘revenge porn’ because once such ‘objectionable’ pictures were taken; it would not take more time to get it  circulated through WhatsApp. These contents may then land in various ports including to the secret sellers of porn clippings and obviously to the XXX rated sites. No one, not even the police may do anything to prevent secondary victimisation of the victim in such cases.
What concerns me more  is publication of her name. S.228-A of the Indian Penal Code prohibits publishing, printing etc  of the name and information of the victim/s who may have been victim of rape or sexual molestation. This protection is brought in to protect the privacy of the victim and more so, to encourage women victims of sexual violence to come up for reporting of crimes without the fear of ‘recognition’ and resultant possible social exclusion. But this provision also has a loose noose : when the victim herself allows to publish her name or identity, this provision will cease to help the victim. We don’t know whether Bhavana herself permitted the reporters to use her name and photograph but I can definitely understand that this has again created a bad example of ‘no identity protection’. Common people who may not be expected to know the pigeon holes of law, would understand a completely different story: reporting would bring media highlight which will destroy the physical and mental   privacy of the victim and her family. But this does not mean that I am ignoring the provisions of S.228-A, IPC. Women victims must also be made aware of this twist of law relating to identity protection. We may expect good and bad results of this: the provision may be misused, women may be able to take a rational decision.

Let us, the civil citizens take a preventive decision to not to spread any offensive videos/still images of women actors even if it may surface as apparently (ugly, unethical movie promo) genuine. Let us respect all women as equal irrespective of their job.
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. (2017), “ How ‘yellow journalism’ and internet is failing the women victims of online harassment and revenge porn”  1st April, 2017, published in http://debaraticyberspace.blogspot.com

Hacking is no fun

CYBER CRIME AGAINST WOMEN BY DEBARATI HALDER

This December we got to see a bout of hacking attacks on renowned politicians, journalists, business magnets in India. Apparently their purpose was to reveal corrupted people who are disrupting good governance in India. Almost all the news media channels ran stories on who these hackers are, why the targeting specific people are and what may be their next target etc.  Very recently I got to meet  a group of people who hack for various reasons. While most of us are concerned about our own digital data security, it is interesting to know why our accounts in social media or email may get hacked.  There is a difference between unauthorised access of financial data, social media profiles, emails and digital data that may be stored in our own devices. They may be interconnected. But definitely their motives may be different. In my recently published monograph “Cyber crime against women in India’ (https://in.sagepub.com/en-in/sas/cyber-crimes-against-women-in-india/book253900) I showed that  revenge porn may be a result of unauthorised access of social media profiles as well as digital albums for revenge to destroy the reputation. Similarly there are hackers who may access  financial data for illegal monetary gain.
However, there is a group of people who hack for fun. This ‘voyeuristic pleasure’ is exercised especially when the hacker/s may want to establish how an organisation or particular individuals may poorly maintain their  cyber security . I do often get to hear from senior citizens and women that their social media accounts or emails or Whatsapp profiles have been hacked.  An in-depth research may reveal that hackers may have done this for fun. To me, it relates to those pre internet  days when youngsters took pleasure in peeping into well guarded private diaries maintained by young girls and boys or individuals who loved to treasure their secrets. But hacking is no fun especially when the information thus gathered can be used for various detrimental causes including extortion and sextortion. Especially Women may feel extremely traumatised when such hackers for fun target them. The reason is, if a woman’s digital data is unauthorisedly accessed, it may misused and damage to her reputation may compel her to take extreme steps like suicide due to fear of social taboo. What I strongly condemn is teaching school children about hacking with the tag line that hacking is for fun. It is like giving a loaded gun to children to experiment it and learn it for fun. It is indeed a fact that ethical hackers are used for many positive reasons and internet companies may pay them a hefty amount too. But, teaching hacking to children must be done with utmost concern. We definitely do not need Frankensteins . It must be understood that any individual who may not understand the responsibilities attached with power may definitely misuse the power.  We need to understand that our Information Technology Act, 2000(amended in 2008) has recognised unauthorised access to digital data, tampering of the data etc as penal offences and the provisions are wide enough to cover offenders of all age. Further, our Indian Penal Code also recognises cyber stalking and voyeurism as an offence which may necessarily involve hacking. Any child psychology expert or educator may understand that children tend to experiment (often with disastrous first few results) for a better understanding of the subject. Hacking is such a tool which may at the outset show the child how to gain illegal profit by using it if he/she is not told about the risks that may be caused to others as well as to his target victims.  
This Christmas let all take a vow that our knowledge must be used for positive purposes and not for victimising others. We must remember that if we use our knowledge and expertise to check the weakness of others, that must be done in a prescribed way and not to humiliate the later.
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. (2016), “Hacking is no fun
25th December 2016, published in http://debaraticyberspace.blogspot.com/