Sexually exploitative imagery of minors can be reported easily on instant messaging apps and social media platforms.

Come across child sex videos online Heres how you can report themImage for representation
news Internet safety Sunday, June 02, 2019 - 13:49

In 2015, Thiruvananthapuram-based Beena* and her husband approached the Kerala police’s Cyber Cell. The couple had come across a Facebook page called “Kochu Sundarikal” (small beauties), which at first glance seemed like a normal page posting kids’ photos. On closer look however, each of the photos of young girls – mostly girls of school-going age – was accompanied by captions like “what would you like to do to her?” Most of them seemed to be taken from personal Facebook profiles.

Horrified, Beena and her husband reported the page to the Kerala Cyber Cell. And while police officials were unable to track the admins who were apparently running it from Saudi Arabia, the page was shut down.

Many people have had experiences like Beena’s. It is no longer difficult to find child sex abuse material (CSAM, also referred to child pornography) on the web, even though it is completely illegal. CSAM and sexually exploitative imagery featuring minors have been found to be openly solicited and available on easily available platforms including YouTubeinstant messaging apps like WhatsApp and Telegram.

Making, viewing and sharing CSAM is illegal under the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act. Further, reporting child sexual abuse is also mandatory under section 19 of the same law. And with more awareness about the same, it has also become easier to report it, from the comfort of your privacy and home. You can do so in the following ways.

1. Go to  https://cybercrime.gov.in

2. On the right side, you will see the option to report CSAM and/or media containing sexual violence such as rape, anonymously. You can also create a login with your phone number, report and then track a complaint.

3. If you are reporting anonymously, fill out this form and provide as many details as you can.

Note that you have the option of choosing where you found the offending media. You can choose from social media platforms. If you choose attachments, another option will appear where you can upload the media to go with the complaint as well.

4. Enter the characters, and press ‘submit’.

If you want to track your complaint, use the Report and Track option.

1. Click on citizen login, and enter your details.

2. Once you are logged in, fill the form with as much detail as possible. Here, you will have the option of being more involved, and share your contact details for the investigation authorities to contact.

3. To check the status of your complaint, click on the option to Check Status on the menu on the left.

While you can use this portal to report any CSAM content, it also makes sense to report it on the platform on which you found it.

For WhatsApp, open the chat or group you want to report, click three dots on the top right corner. Click on More --> Report. WhatsApp does not allow you to cite the reasons for reporting a group or chat.

For Telegram, you can report groups similarly as WhatsApp – click on the three dots on the top right corner in the group chat and press report. You can choose between options of spam, violence, child abuse, pornography and other.

You may not be able to report individual users or chats on Telegram, because, according to their FAQ, all Telegram groups and chats are private and they do not process any requests related to them. However, you can email complaints to abuse@telegram.org.

On Facebook, you can report a page by clicking on the three dots next to the “Like” and “follow” buttons at the top of the page. Facebook clubs the option to report with the give feedback option, so it may just skip your notice. Click on the “give feedback or report this page” option, and pick your reason to report. A similar option is there to report Facebook groups and profiles. To report posts, click on the “…” on the top right of the post and click on “Give feedback on this post”.

On Twitter, you can report a tweet or a user for sharing abusive or illegal material including CSAM. To report a tweet, click on the drop down arrow on the top right corner of a tweet and press “Report tweet”. You can then choose your reason like flagging the tweet for displaying a sensitive image or being abusive or harmful. 

To report a user, click on the three vertical dots on the top right side of the profile and select “Report @(username)”. Select the relevant reasons and press “done”.

It is important to note that most platforms do not have a great track record when it comes to seriously cracking down on sexually exploitative or explicit imagery - especially with instant messaging apps having end-to-end encryption. They are also unlikely to escalate it to law enforcement agencies unless a complaint is made by a third party. However, CSAM should be reported regardless of that, especially now that you can do it in a couple of minutes while maintaining anonymity if you wish. 

*Name changed

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