Similar cells dedicated to preventing the menace may also come up in every state.
The Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) is considering a proposal to set up a specialised central police unit to deal with matters related to “child pornography”. Similar cells dedicated to preventing the menace may also come up in every state.
The MHA and the Ministry of Information Technology are also studying a suggestion from the National Human Rights Commission to ensure that intermediaries take down online “child pornography” material within six hours of getting information from authorised agencies. At present, intermediaries get a period of up to 36 hours to do so and this often proves too long and fails to check the spread of objectionable content related to children.
The Central government is also studying a proposal from the rights panel to drop the phrase “child pornography” in the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act, 2012 and change it to “Child Sexual Abuse Material (CSAM)”.
The NHRC recommended that terms like “use of children in pornographic performances and materials”, “child sexual abuse material” and “child sexual exploitation material” should be preferred over “Child Pornography” in the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act, 2012.
On its recommendation on specialised police units to handle cases of CSAM, the rights panel said only personnel trained in identification and investigation of CSAM should be recruited in the task force. It said these units may be mandated to apprehend CSAM offenders, both in the dark web and open web and developing a comprehensive and coordinated response of investigation and law enforcement agencies towards monitoring, detection and investigation of CSAM.
For better handling of repeat offenders and investigations, the NHRC has also asked the government to form a national database of CSAM to collect data regarding the prevalence, patterns, trends names, and other socio-economic parameters to better understand interventions. A suggestion was also made to include CSAM offenders convicted under the IT Act, 2000, and the POCSO Act, 2012 in the National Database of Sex Offenders in India.The MHA has also been advised to consider making the punishments harsher for CSAM offenders. The rights body has sought harmonisation of laws across the country for arrests. For better understanding among investigators dealing with cases of child pornography, the NHRC said, “Police officials dealing with cases pertaining to CSAM to be imparted sensitisation training on rights of children in the digital environment, their specific vulnerabilities on the Internet, the extent and emerging manifestations of CSAM and the use of child-friendly procedures in investigation.”
The commission cited the US-based National Centre for Missing and Exploited Children’s “CyberTipline Report 2022”, which showed that out of the 32 million global reports received by it, 5.6 million reports pertained to CSAM uploaded by perpetrators based out of India.